I was thinking back to the Catholic blogosphere, and to what finally got me to start blogging about a decade ago. I was skeptical about it. I wondered if blogging had already jumped the shark. Probably too late to join in, I thought. The old blogspot site is still living, I see.
I went back to the October 2003 posts. Seem pretty tame.
I recall that Fall was a heady time for the Catholic blogosphere. Not many progressives online. While there were a few Big Name Bloggers, practically everybody was running it out of their own shop, so to speak. Not many publishers in the game at that point. I don’t think Father Z had made the switch over from message boards yet.
Everybody was blogging about Terri Schiavo that month. The DaVinci Code too. US adventurism in southwest Asia was still a feel-good thing for many Catholics.
Personally, it was a very arduous time in ministry. The second year in a parish, for me, is always the toughest. Three times I didn’t survive the place for a third year. I stayed put in Kansas City for six, and I’m still reflecting on lessons gained from it all. This quote from October 30th has a bit more behind it:
I had heard through the grapevine that a few parishioners are grumbling about the new choir. “Why do we need another thing for kids? Let them do it in the school, where that kind of thing belongs.” *Sigh* It’s a good parish, but it has so far to go.
It was a good parish. It still is, from what I hear from afar. I remember arguing for Christmas and Easter publicity with the pastor. I lost that one. He didn’t understand why, when the church was packed for Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, we would want to invite more people to come. I wasn’t as evangelically aware in those days, but it still seemed right to tell the community who we were and that we were here, ready to welcome all.
The big parish controversy that Fall of ’03, as I recall it, was that someone in the loft choir (which I didn’t direct or accompany) was upset because I said they did “Protestant” music. Which they did. The choir members didn’t know better–they had fifteen years with the same director, who usually went to the big Protestant publishers for performance pieces. I actually got called into the pastor’s office on that one. Sort of reminiscent of grade school. And deck chairs.
It’s curious how people who don’t know you are fairly quick to misjudge when they feel threatened. It was like that online, too.
I was looking over the blogroll from the old site, too. I kept it fairly well updated, and it included a mix of blogs from the ideological sides of the Church. Most of them are dormant or rarely updated. But a few bloggers continue, mostly on new sites. There’s a lot of change in seven to ten years.
Many of you readers have been with me for years. They seem to pass quickly, don’t you think? What do you see as the biggest changes in the Catholic blogs over the past decade?
One major change erupted in 2004: coming to grips with the use of torture in the prosecution of the War on Terror. And it led to divisions that persist to this day – a gradual de-linking of the decades-old need of American Catholics to demonstrate fealty to the national security state, albeit not as anarchistic (not in the pejorative sense) as Dorothy Day might have urged. It even led to what was for a few years an flame war each August over reconsideration of the use of atomic weapons in WW2. A spillover effect gave energy to many of the kind of people who blog on the morality of the national security state at The American Conservative.
I look at the rise of more specialized Catholic blogs over time (e.g. liturgy, ethics, clerical) as the predominant trend, whereas most of the early heavy-hitters (e.g. Mark Shea and Amy Welborn) were more generalist. I have to say that I find The Deacon’s Bench is the most unique, truly a 30 minute network news-style blog. I refer to that for Catholic news far more than EWTN and both NCRs. And some of the bloggers (Rocco and Fr. Z) have notable ecclesiastical influence, which really couldn’t be said of the first generation of St. Blogs, as it used to be known.
I rather like the UK Catholic Herald as Luke Coppen lets the viewer navigate, and one mustn’t slog through Rocco’s arias.
Ideology is now firmly entrenched without respite, save maybe for Todd. Rorate (yes, Todd, I keep track of all!) even has a post wherein other idealogues endorse Rorate as “having gotten it right about HHFrancis!” Jump the shark, anyone? But occasionally PTB writers and commentariat have delved way far into ideological hyperbole beyond recognition.
I miss RC chatrooms and their offshoots like RPInet. Bill Burns had a great thing going for a while.
Maybe (Catholic?/Orthodox) Spiro Agnew got one thing right before passing onto his reward: whatever one thinks of him personally, his call out of the “nattering nabobs of negativity” is in full fruition.