Why Blog? Catholic Bloggers Post Their Reasons | By Valerie Schmalz | May 25, 2005
In Part One of this series we took a look at the world of Catholic blogdom. Last week we asked some Catholic bloggers what blogs they read.
This week we asked for comments about the contributions, value, and uniqueness of Catholic blogs. In short: why blog?
What is "Bring a Catholic perspective to things," Alex? That seems to about sum it up. Catholic blogs can do what any other Catholic news and ideas medium can do: bring a Catholic perspective to things. That's true of Catholic newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and its true of blogs, too. Also, like the other Catholic media, Catholic blogs can play a role in evangelization. I've been pleased to discover, as I'm sure many other Catholic bloggers have, that my blog is being read by a significant number of non-Catholics who ask questions, interact, and in many cases are on their way to the Church. Blogs, because of their highly interactive nature, are particularly suited to helping such folk out.
Dom Bettinelli, Bettnet.com:
The great strength of blogs is the immediacy of action and the widespread influence. If I have an opinion about a breaking news story, I can post my opinion of it, and by noon, 1,000 people will have read it. If other bloggers link to it, that number could be multiplied times 10 by the end of the day. Also, as I said before, blogging lets more and varied types of personalities shine through. It's like a vast Forum where anyone can stand up and shout out their opinions. Whether anyone will listen, well that's another story.
Also, blogs have been influential. There have been several times when I posted something on my blog that later got into wide circulation and resulted on some major action. For example, a few years ago, Catholic World Report did a story on Catholic college web sites including links to pro-abortion and other immoral organizations. I posted a quick preview on my web site and by the time the magazine came out, some colleges were already removing those links.
The Dan Rather Memogate story is a similar example of the effect at work in the secular realm.
Jeff Culbreath, Hallowed Ground and El Camino Real:
Presently, many orthodox Catholics find themselves in modernist parishes without a voice and without the fellowship of like-minded Catholics. Catholic blogs have given them a voice and helped to compensate for an appalling lack of community in the "real world".
The Shrine of the Holy Whapping:
I think they have contributed much to the world of news reporting, with regard to the clerical scandals (which certainly got them rolling) and the utter legal travesty of the Terri Schiavo case (dona eis requiem). More importantly, they have the potential to be the foundation for a revival of genuine Catholic culture by serving as a reunion-point for Catholics everywhere. In the blogosphere marketplace, you may find who's in need and who's providing. Artists and writers show their work, and the Catholic populace gives them feedback; each shapes the other in a fascinating dialogue. It's difficult to get published as an up-and-coming Catholic writer, I imagine; the blogosphere allows you someplace to practice. I know whenever I compare many Catholic writers of the present day it's hard to find anyone on par with Waugh, Chesterton and Greene, who show rather than explain, who illustrate rather than preach. We need more like them today.
Steve Dillard, Southern Appeal:
I think the greatest virtue of Catholic blogs is that they are playing a significant role in the rebirth and embrace of orthodoxy in the American Catholic Church. If you look at the truly successful Catholic bloggers, you'll notice that all of them have one thing in common: they are extremely faithful to the Church's teachings.
Steven Sanchez, Beingornothingness:
What I find so important about Catholic blogs is that they are a strong presence that points to something: Christianity is a fact that happens! Every Catholic blog is another voice saying to the world,
"Ah, but a man rose from the dead!" This is extraordinary!
Barbara Nicolosi, Church of the Masses:
St. Blog's has become a parish of last resort for tens of thousands of Catholics who feel on some level that the post-Vatican II Church has left them. We are good Catholics, so we have no where to go, but the dreadful aesthetic and liturgical and politicized realities in so many parishes and diocese have left us all staggering around, suffering in isolation. The institutional Church in America with its pulpits, newspapers and diocesan offices have been largely in the hands of liberal, dissenting Catholics, and before the advent of St. Blogs, there was no place for any voices to dissent from all the dissent.
Blogdom is also a fabulous forum for the laity to express themselves. And what a wonderfully thoughtful, learned laity we have in the Church! Every parish could peruse St. Blog's parish every day. It would certainly ameliorate some of the half-baked condescension that passes for homilies in too many places. There is an amazing amount of sheer brilliance in St. Blogs. And also profound, informed devotion.
In a modern way, they reemphasize the universality of the Church by allowing us to form connections to brethren we may never even meet. Personally, I think it's great to find out that (for example) there are other Catholics my age who know what an aspergellium is.
Blostopher, Against The Grain:
Alongside other Catholic news websites and online bulletin boards, I think 'St. Blog's Parish' plays a distinct role in witnessing to the blogging community at large. We can do this by giving non-Catholic Christians, members of other religions (or no religion at all) an opportunity to see the world from a Catholic worldview. In simply presenting that worldview, putting it out in the internet, one can plant the seeds of faith.
This is not to say Catholic bloggers have to constantly be in agreement. G.K. Chesterton once remarked that Catholics agree about everything; it is only everything else they disagree about. "St. Blog's Parish" is a good illustration of that. There are areas of discussion which invite (and which the Church grants) a diversity of opinions. At the same time, borrowing from Catholic Answers' Guide for Catholic Voters there are also certain moral and theological 'non-negotiables', about which Rome has spoken authoritatively, and which constitute 'the Catholic view' of things, distinguishing our perspective from the rest. With respect to the latter, I think Catholic bloggers will ultimately be judged by the degree to which we demonstrate in our blogging our unity with Christ and his Church on the fundamental matters of the faith.
Julie Davis, The Happy Catholic:
In one way they offer affirmation that the Catholic spirit is alive in a society that often works against Catholic values. In other ways, they support the Catholic community through exchange of ideas and answering questions about the faith. I find them to be the most satisfying blogs to read because Catholic bloggers tend to look at and write about the "whole" person. For example, a Catholic mother is not just wondering about how best to discipline children but how to help nurture souls at the same time. Catholic news commentary is looking not just at the news itself but at how that news plays out against a Catholic cultural worldview. It makes it all much more interesting ... at least for me. But, on the other hand, that is how I look at the world anyway.
Josh LeBlanc, CyberCatholics.com:
My take on the Catholic blogging atmosphere is this: Having Catholic bloggers allows pertinent news for Catholics to travel much faster than with traditional news sources. It also allows the reader to get each individual blogger's perspective about a subject, sometimes one we hadn't thought about previously. Reading Catholic blogs daily is like getting to hear talks by Fr. John Corapi, Marcus Grodi, Rosalind Moss, and Marcellino d'Ambrosio every day. People go to listen to these people to get their unique perspective about a subject. This can be found daily in the Catholic Blogsphere. The weaknesses of the Catholic blogging system is, of course, the fact that the system is mostly unmoderated and sometimes erroneous information can be posted on so called Catholic blogs. Also because most blogs having commenting systems, sometimes dissenting opinions can enter what would normally be an orthodox Catholic's blog. Most Catholic blogs have to be guarded and watched over constantly to maintain good theological teaching.
Kathy Schaidle, Relapsed Catholic:
There are Catholic blogs by priests, sisters, canon lawyers, lay people, even choir directors. At their best, blogs are the perfect vehicle for apologetics. And for conversation. When a papal encyclical is released, for example, many Catholics go online to read what their favourite bloggers have to say about it, and they may add their own thoughts in the blogs comment section. Bloggers and readers perform many of the Spiritual Works of Mercy "instructing the ignorant" being my personal favorite... :-)
Tom Kreitzberg, Disputations:
In the broader public conversation, they can provide the Sed Contra to the portrayal of the Church in the secular media. They can also give context to and fill out stories that aren't of general interest outside the Church. They can give a sense of communion to Catholics who for whatever reason don't feel close to their fellow parishioners. (This has some obvious limits beyond which bad things start to happen.)
For me, St. Blog's provides a community of smart, knowledgeable, engaged Catholics with whom to talk things over, explore ideas, and share insights. In the final analysis, though, what Catholic blogs have to contribute is what Catholics have to contribute, which is Christ, risen and present to His Church.
Mark Sullivan, Irish Elk:
Bestow indulgences, rather than being a mere indulgence.
Next week: "What criticisms of blogs are most valid?"
Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight. She worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press, and in print and broadcast media for ten years. She holds a BA in Government from University of San Francisco and a Master of Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the former director of Birthright of San Francisco. Valerie and her wonderful husband have four children.
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