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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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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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