The campus ministry at Texas A&M has a significant web presence. I wish my own parish would emulate it. Marcel LeJeune posted his list of “Top 20 Catholic Bloggers.”
Yes, these are the blogs I read most. If I missed one you like, mention them in the combox. If you don’t like one of them, be nice about it. If you think one is better than the others, be nice about that as well.
I note that six of the twenty blogs are NCReg operations. Practically every one on his list is of the high hit count variety. The list leans conservative, political, and to news collectors. Greg Kandra, who is one of the most active collectors linked at the Bench.
And now I have one of these little badges, to boot.
Conversation ensued. Henry Karlson took great exception:
When will Catholic bloggers stop looking for and patting each other on the backs with such stupidity as “blog awards”?
I tend to agree. A few of us Catholic bloggers have been rather consistent in our disdain for popularity awards. Henry isn’t raining on Marcel and Greg’s parade just because he missed the gold star. He’s discussed it before.
Henry is a serious writer and thinker. He came down hard in the comboxes on this yesterday. I think a lot of us have issues that push our buttons. Mine is adoption. Henry’s is awards. He really pricked Greg’s patience, who shut down the thread this morning:
Okay. Enough. This is getting ridiculous.
I’m closing down comments.
Henry is obviously angry because he didn’t make the list, and is lashing out at something that was relatively small and insignificant, and turning it into a federal case, complete with conspiracies and words like “propagandist.”
Sour grapes, anyone?
I think it’s more sour because somebody stood up to the jocks and cheerleaders. People have to remember: this isn’t (really) high school. We’re not afraid of the popular
kids people in the blogosphere. It’s always a dangerous thing to think we have somebody figured out, especially emotions, and especially without face-to-face contact.
My own take is that some Catholic bloggers treat their internet exercise as their own private club. There’s not a conspiracy in the sense of a criminal, intentional plot to circle the wagons around the bloggers outstanding for popularity, orthodoxy, and good-looking kids. But propaganda is not far off the mark.
I went to Marcel’s site and offered a comment. I wasn’t mean to anyone. I just said my piece. And the piece wasn’t approved.
Now, I’m good with people running their blogs however they want to. If Marcel thinks the impressionable Aggie Catholics down in Texas can’t handle a bit of friendly dissent from Iowa, he’s welcome to turn his comboxes into lovefests. (Chaste, of course.) (Good luck with that SEC thing, by the way.)
And Greg has perfect freedom to shut down his threads, too. Though I confess my surprise–he usually does it when people get nasty. Henry was on the Aggie Top 20 like a bulldog. And he did throw out that cruel epithet, “stupid.” But he wasn’t at all out of character. Of course, if he were a popular top-20 blogger, more people would know blogonarcissism wasn’t his thing.
I don’t think that asking questions about self-congratulatory behavior is ridiculous. I’m sure those questions are perceived as bothersome. But my sense of the discussion is that we thought some people were big enough to receive well-intended input, and consider expanding a view of the blogging world. Apparently not. I’m not going to speculate on people getting ticked off, annoyed, or feeling insulted. I’m just going to note what happened, and keep my deeper speculation to myself.
Speaking personally, I’d rather read a good writer than a good reporter. When I read print media, I preferred in-depth features to headlines. Greg Kandra, for example, blogs the way a media journalist would blog. He collects stories, and offers them with minimal content. I suspect he’s a better writer than he shows, and I’m sure he could write a great feature. But he’s a section A journalist. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I like to collect news items too. But only when I have some comment on them, something another blogger hasn’t already commented on or thought of. I suppose that’s narcissistic in its own way. Jimmy Mac, for example, sends me several stories a week. Most of them I don’t comment on. Some because I try to keep a tolerable level of stomach acid. And some because I agree with Jim’s liberal viewpoint, and I have nothing original to add.
I enjoy bloggers who are more pure writers. They stare out their window near dawn, and make some connection with a Bible passage, a word from a saint, some poet, some bit of nature–and in ten minutes, they have three-hundred words of a totally unique insight that nobody ever thought of before. I love that.
I suspect that Catholics are attracted to certain kinds of blogs more than others.
“Tell us the facts. Tell us the truth. And we’re good.” These folks like their religion and their life black-and-white, with no gray area. They’re going to like Greg, and most of the conservative news outlets. They need reinforcement, wagons circled, and what they thought they were sure about yesterday confirmed again today.
“Challenge me. Get me out of my rut.” These folks know they aren’t perfect. They know they need help, and if a good kick is going to help them, so be it.
Some people seem lonely, and they just want to engage in some way socially. Either to be argumentative or to be totally supportive.
It takes all kinds. That’s why were a catholic Church. That’s why we’re a body. We’re not 1.2 billion ears. Or 1.2 billion folded hands.
Maybe once we realize that, we can get to work reading other blogs, other viewpoints, and find out who the really good writers, thinkers, theologians, teachers, poets, artists, and saints are. And not who stars for Team Catholic and cheers them on.