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Invasion of the Catholic Bloggers | By Valerie Schmalz | May 9. 2005
The world of Catholic bloggers is a window into contemporary and orthodox
Catholic thought that takes Pope John Paul IIs call for a new evangelization
and turns it into a worldwide discussion of faith, morals, politics, and
plain old daily life.
One blogger said he and his friends were delighted to discover they were
part of a wider range of orthodox Catholics interested in evangelizing the
world, that they were "Catholic nerds!"
The movement is perhaps best summed up in the mission statement of CyberCatholics.com,
the sponsor of The 2005 Catholic Blog Awards. Founded by Joshua LeBlanc
and Chris Decker, on Dec. 8, 2000 the feast of the Immaculate Conception--when
the two were in the seminary together, the website states:
"The mission of cyberCatholics.com is simply to put into practice
the call of Pope John Paul II to a new evangelization. Part of this
new evangelization is to spread the Gospel by any means necessary, especially
through the newest medium of the Internet. Through the cyberCatholics
apostolate, any individual can respond to Gods call to evangelize
at a very low and reasonable cost."
Of course, there is a downside. As Jeff Culbreath, of Hallowed
Ground and El
amino Real notes, "Blogging and blog reading can become an incredible
waste of time. I think it is for most people, myself included." And
the disadvantage of all blogging, as college student and well-regarded blogger
writes: "Any halfwit can start a blog, and the potential for disinformation
As blogs have taken off, so have Catholic blogs. This year was the second
year of the Catholic Blog Awards, with a list of nineteen categories, chosen
by on-line popular vote. CyberCatholic.coms LeBlanc credits Fr. Bryce
Sibley, A Saintly
Salmagundi, with the idea, and says the categories were chosen after
consulting other Catholic bloggers. A total of 550 people nominated blogs
this year, using open source polling software, LeBlanc told IgnatiusInsight.com.
In The 2005 Catholic Blog Awards, several blogs topped the categories: Amy
Book, Father Bryce Sibleys A
Saintly Salmagundi, Jeff Millers The
Curt Jester, Shrine
of the Holy Whapping, Catholic
Ragemonkey, JimmyAkin.org, Being
or Nothingness, Southern
Appeal, and Catholic
Apologetics of America.
Many Catholic bloggers belong to St.
Blogs Parish, self-described as "home to a varied congregation
of Catholic weblggers located around the world. The webring links together
their weblogs, which must conform to Church teaching but do not have to
be constant commentaries on Church issues.
IgnatiusInsight.com interviewed a cross section of Catholic bloggers. We
contacted blogs with the most votes in the cyberCatholic awards and others
who made the top five as well as a few who didnt. Here are some of
their answers. Unfortunately, we couldn't talk to everyoneif we did,
this would be a book (hey, there's an idea!).
Over the next 2-3 weeks we will post answers given to these questions: Why
do you blog? What other blogs do you read regularly and why? What can a
Catholic blog do that others cant? What are criticisms of blogs?
WHY DO YOU BLOG?
Rev. Bryce Sibley, A
Saintly Salmagundi. Winner of most humorous blog, best blog by a priest,
most bizarre blog, best blog by a man:
I have three main reasons why I blog. 1. As a hobby 2. To try
and help Catholics to laugh a little when it seems that the world
and Church is collapsing around them. 3. As a means of evangelization.
Jimmy Akin, JimmyAkin.org. Winner of best apologetics blog.
I was put under a Gypsy curse when I was seven years old. Seriously:
I blog because it's fun. In enjoy interacting with people, writing up
kooky or informative pieces, throwing them out on the 'Net, and then
seeing what the reaction is. Despite the obvious problems with our world
today (I'm still waiting for the upgrade), I find the world we live
in a terribly interesting place, and my blog is a way that I can share
with others my own experience of exploring the world. I enjoy answering
folks' questions, as well as typing up things that I find interesting
for amusing, and I enjoy seeing folks get into the spirit of it. On
my blog we have a number of running jokes, and folks send in links of
things they've found that they think other blog readers might want to
know about. The more, the merrier!
Jeff Miller, The
Curt Jester. Winner of most creative blog:
"Punditry, Parody, Polemics, Politics, Puns from a Papist Perspective":
To blog is to first think that you have something worth saying. In my
case I fall back on G.K. Chesterton when he said "if something's worth
doing, it's worth doing badly." I had started listening to talk radio
towards the end of the eighties. I would mentally go over the stories
and opinions I heard and would think what my replies to questions would
be. Yelling back at the radio is rather fruitless when you hear something
you disagree with and I would think about what it would be like to have
my own talk show. In my conversion from atheism to the Catholic Church
I had read as much as I could because I was like a dry sponge hungrily
absorbing the faith. I was now pondering the responses to the news stories
I was hearing and reading in light of faith. Finding the medium of weblogs
was for me the perfect way to exercise what I had learned.
Amy Welborn, Open
Book. Best blog by a Woman, most Informative blog, best overall:
I blog for several reasons: as a long-time columnist in the Catholic
press, I was accustomed to having a personal relationship with readers.
This is an extension of that. It's an opportunity for me to write in
a venue unhampered by editors' or publishers' concerns and restraints.
It's a place for me to work out ideas. And it's PR keeping my
name out there, publicizing my books.
Barbara Nicolosi, Church
of the Masses:
I am a writer, in my soul. And writers write. I blog
because it allows me to put my ideas out there, without having to submit
them to the commercial structures imposed by conventional publishing.
Sometimes I have small ideas that I can say in 250 words. It is
very liberating to be able to just put it out there. I very much
value the bloggers who are surfing the Net and providing links to interesting
stories, but that's never been the intention of my blog. I only
can justify blogging if I have some kind of developed idea to put out
Tom Kreitzberg, Disputations:
My nobler motives are to make what contribution I can to the public
conversation of American Catholics; to learn about my faith and its
practical implications by talking things over with others; and to share
with others such "fruits of contemplation" (in St. Thomas's phrase)
as I have to share (which, frankly, are usually plucked straight off
the tree of some book I'm reading, rather than home grown). My ignobler
motives include pride, envy, anger, and sloth. (Not avarice, alas.)
Dominico Bettinelli Jr., assistant editor of Catholic World News and managing editor
of Catholic World Report. Blogs at Bettnet.com:
I blog because I have to or I'd explode. Just kidding, but only
a little. I used to complain incessantly while watching televison about
the biases and the lack of full disclosure. After awhile I started to
talking to my friends and family about topical issues, trying to undo
the damage the mainstream media was doing to their understanding of
how things are. After 9/11, I wanted to discuss more of those sorts
of issues and I realized my web site would be a good platform. Technically
I started blogging in July of 2001, before 9/11, but I didn't begin
doing it daily until after 9/11. (I guess that makes mine one of the
oldest Catholic blogs out there.)
Christopher at Against the Grain:
I used to participate in the 'Great Books' program in college. I've
found blogging to be a way to continue my post-graduation education.
It's not only an opportunity to hone your writing skills, but to think
as well, and as a Catholic convert, learning how to grow and think AS
a Catholic. It's good intellectual (and, in its better moments, spiritual)
Steven Sanchez, Being
or Nothingness: Winner of best new blog:
I blog because I stand in front of the faces of teenagers who have
been taught that there should be no judgments made in front of life,
in fact they have been taught that judging something is somehow a negative
position. Things happen that are horrible, 9/11, the Tsunami, or the
decapitation of Nick Berg and their response is to make jokes, or to
react ideologically. These are Christian kids who are writing cynical
songs under the guise of humor about the death of 100,000 people from
The result is that Christianity becomes a retreat from the world or
an ideology that is for them because it makes them happy but that everyone
has their own truth, their own happiness, their own path. My teenagers
slip into the nothingness of life, unwilling or afraid to say that their
heart desires more than what life is reduced to.
I blog to challenge the position that judging the things that happen
in life is somehow a negative position. I blog to help educate my kids
to a new humanity, one that sees life as positive and the Christian
claim as attractive and true. I blog to help my students see that the
desires of my heart fill life with a positivity, fill life with a hope
and goodness that I long to see realized, not because I do a million
things, but by just being a presence that says "No, there is one way,
one truth, one life and it has a name: Jesus!"
Mark C N Sullivan, Irish
I have pronounced opinions, and I come from a newspaper background,
as well as from a family of inveterate article-clippers. The blog offers
a forum for commentary, a cyber-filing cabinet for items I find interesting,
and the ability to be my own newspaper editor or pamphleteer, which
has its Jeffersonian appeal. A famous painting of the artist and museum-keeper
Charles Willson Peale has him opening the curtain on his cabinet of
curiosities. That's the Internet to me.
Jeff Culbreath, El
amino Real. Best devotional:
My motives are mixed. I do a lot of reading and enjoy disseminating
ideas from my reading. As a traditionalist, I think the greater Catholic
community benefits from exposure to Catholic thought that has been neglected
or forgotten since the Second Vatican Council. But it is also true that
Im something of a controversialist and enjoy "dusting it
up" once in a while.
Micki, one of the Summa
Mammas, a group of Catholic convert mothers.
I find it therapeutic and encouraging. It gives me a "safe" forum
to rant and it affords a wonderful opportunity to reach out to
like-minded Catholics, but it's also a reminder how diverse and varied
we Catholics can be.
Nicole DesOrmeaux, Notes
to Myself. Third place, most devotional blog:
Over the last year and a half, I have taken the "risk" of sharing
my stories of faith with St Blog's in hopes of bringing greater glory
to God.Im not a thinker, Im not a reader, Im not a
writer. So what am I doing blogging? Since blogging has its origins
in journalism.My answer is that I am a lover. A lover that want s to
express the love welling over inside, in as many ways possible. I continue
to post, today, because I am a lover. On my side bar I have posted my
purpose "The inspiration behind my blog is my personal belief that
memoirs which pertain to our church have unique power. Sharing these
stories of faith plant seeds of Gods love
lives can be touched,
God can be greatly glorified.
Steve Dillard, one of the bloggers writing for Southern
Appeal, winner of best political blog, best social commentary"
I blog because I am passionate about the subjects that permeate
my writing: Catholicism; "culture of life issues"; preservation of traditional
marriage; the genocide taking place in Darfur; originalism, federalism, and
judicial restraint; and Southern history and culture.
What blogs do bloggers read?
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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