Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blogging, the Vatican, and Getting a Grip

One of my goals, as a blogger, is to not get told by a bishop that I fouled up.

That's not at all likely to happen.

First, I'm pretty sure that the Diocese of St. Cloud, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, have a great deal more important things to do than monitor this blog for doctrinal error.

Second, I make an effort to be an informed Catholic. Which is why you'll find so many citations and links to Catholic documents in these posts.

I've repeated "I write with the full authority of 'some guy with a blog' " so often, it's starting to sound like a catchphrase. My opinion.

Frontier Life on the Digital Continent

Emerging social and legal structures that use the Internet and other Information Age technology are a bit like the western frontier in America's history - hardly an original observation. I think online communities are sorting themselves out into more orderly (virtual) societies - but there's still a great deal of freedom. And disorder - which isn't the same thing.

I hope that online communities - and blogs - continue to be forums where opinions can be expressed - even if establishment editors and other information gatekeepers1 don't agree.

Since being a practicing Catholic puts my views well outside the conventional envelope in today's America: The openness of the online world is a welcome opportunity.

On the other hand, that same openness makes it possible for someone to opine that, for example:
  • 'The only true Catholics are vegetarians'
  • 'Vatican II is a communist plot'
  • 'Social justice demands armed revolt'
I'm not referring to any particular person or blog in that list - although I've run into statements that are pretty close to each of the examples.

'But They're so Sincere'

I don't doubt that quite a few folks who say things like "I see salvation as a commitment to organic fertilizer" are sincere - and think they should be taken seriously. That doesn't mean I think they're right.

My take on the nature of reality is pretty close to 'if three hundred million people really believe in a stupid idea: It's still a stupid idea.'

"...A Christian Style of Presence"

The Catholic Church takes beliefs - and blogging - seriously.

An excerpt from yesterday's news:
"...During a press conference to present Pope Benedict XVI's message for World Social Communication's Day last January, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli decried 'aggressive blog sites that excommunicate and don't have a Christian style of presence.'

"While it was not clear to which Church-themed blogs he referred, he said that Internet users needed to approach blogs with an eye on 'to what point they are truly Catholic.'..."
The CNA article was discussing part of the Holy See's efforts to learn about, and deal with, today's culture. Nothing new there: it's what Peter's successors been doing for almost two millennia.

Anyway, here's how the article starts:
"The Vatican is inviting Internet bloggers to Rome next month for an unprecedented meeting to foster 'informal exchange and contact.'

"The May 2 event aims to take advantage of the influx of international bloggers coming to Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II a day earlier.

"While all are invited to apply, only a limited number of blogging attendees will receive a formal invitation. The objective of the Vatican departments organizing the event is to fill the 150-seat St. Pius X auditorium with a group representing the diversity of the 'blogosphere.'..."
I'd say something about the Catholic Church, technology, and common sense: but I did that on Thursday. ("Modernism, Luddites, Catholicism, and Godzilla" (April 7, 2011))

I'd also opine on what I think that "Christian style of presence" means - or should mean - but, like I said, I'm "some guy with a blog." And anyway, bishops are already addressing the issue. (see "Background," below)

Related posts:My (sort of a) blogroll:In the news:Background:
1 An "information gatekeeper" is someone who controls access to information. See:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.