Tribes

John Allen is getting a good bit of blogobuzz for his piece on post-tribal Catholicism. But let’s keep it in perspective: most of the Catholic tribal energy has emerged on the internet over the past ten years. While some of it trickles into parishes, I’d say most Catholics have never heard of the heroes: Corapi, Johnson, Voris, etc.. They are largely unaware of the issues that eCatholics find so engaging. And most of said issues drawing heat are really nothing much deeper than coffee and donuts gossip. Did he really have sex with her? Did she really write that?! Did he really say that?!?

As long as parishes tackle the challenges of evangelization, liturgy, identity, outreach, and formation in their own backyards, the net will remain largely irrelevant. And it probably should be so. I have big doubts about the blog as a medium of evangelization. My blog is more like a seven-year-old conversation that’s been taped in front of a small, but live viewing audience. Who replays the tape here? Not me. 6600 posts? It’s ridiculous, when I think about it. How many novels or spiritual books could that have been?

When I evangelize, it’s about my own faith journey, and plying someone else with questions about their experiences. Blogs do this not well at all. If anything, blogs reinforce a sameness, like Camazotz. They discourage metanoia. They feed into the cult of celebrity. They endorse a weird conformity. Participants resist mightily when a hero gets all moral on something like torture. We’re not supposed to make moral choices, say both the advertisers and the neo-orthodox–we’re supposed to conform to our heroes. When the hero takes a fall, it’s a catastrophe.

What interests me far more are the post-tribal communities Mr Allen discusses. Would I have to give up poking at the sillines of the Right and occasionally the Left? Good trade, most likely. What about you?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Tribes

  1. Paul says:

    Your remark about the irrelevancy of the internet for most parishioners is absolutely true. Good on you for saying so.

    Your insights that “blogs reinforce a sameness . . . They discourage metanoia. They feed into the cult of celebrity. They endorse a weird conformity” also ring true. Even those who check out the blogs of “the other side” do so to reinforce their own preconceived, cement-shoed position.

    Thanks.

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