(This is Neil)
I always feel cautious about generalizing about something like the “Catholic blogosphere,” but I think that I can say a few things. When I began contributing to Todd’s blog, most Catholic bloggers were amateurs or popular writers, often insightful, but hardly credentialed experts with institutional affiliations. Now, most magazines have regular bloggers, and theologians and even some bishops have blogs. There are disadvantages to “professionalization,” but the “Catholic blogosphere,” if there even is such a thing, seems less chaotic. This means that there is less pressure to seem more than vapid, political, or entrepreneurial. Also, most Catholic bloggers were conservative. Now, there is more diversity and less pressure to “balance” others or to speak for a different perspective.
I think that I can say one other thing: I’m not prolific enough to be a good blogger.
Thus, I’d like to do something new, at least for me. I’d like to post a series of questions. I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions – this will be true, even if at times it might seem rather embarrassing for me. I would like to know the answers, if they are answerable. I do think that these are difficult questions that can’t be answered with readily available talking points. I’d be grateful for any insight that you might have, even if you simply want to say that the questions are very badly posed.
This first post in this series has to do with Catholics and Protestants and has a pastoral angle:
1. True or false: In most Roman Catholic parishes in the United States, one can regularly attend Mass anonymously. In most Protestant congregations in the United States, this would be difficult.
2. True or false: In most Protestant congregations in the United States, there is an obvious “secondary” activity for committed participants – usually a small group, Sunday school class, or a Bible study. In most Roman Catholic parishes, there are many activities, but not any obvious “secondary” activity.
3. True or false: In a Roman Catholic parish, the priest will be bemused if someone approaches him after Mass and wishes to politely question parts of his sermon. In a Protestant congregation, even a relatively unlearned pastor will accept this as normal, and, in theory, welcome.
4. True or false: Presently, in many Protestant congregations, there is a detectable presence of ex-Catholics who bring a distinct perspective with them – usually, a belief in sacramental realism and a respect for elements of Catholic spirituality and theology, but also hostility towards clericalism and any seemingly distant and impersonal form of dogmatism and legalism.
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