Is Survival The Plan?

trench warfareMore blogging lament, this time across the Atlantic from me. The title was intriguing enough: “If the Catholic blogosphere is to survive then our bloggers must become more Catholic.” I wasn’t quite sure how to take that at first. A misspelling of small-c catholic? Or more virtuous in a Catholic sort of way: more faith, hope, and love … especially prudence?

The comments are illustrative too. Much praise for Michael Voris and his boot-to-the-butt version of Catholicism. Much praise as long as a body is watching someone else’s rear get a boot print, and not on the receiving end of a kicking.

I’m not sure that blogging survival is the real mission here. The Gospel and its proclamation seems primary to me. Blogging is a tool. Like writing letters. Like television. Means to good ends. But only means. Ink on calfskin has gone by the wayside, but that doesn’t mean the whole Bible is sunk. The medium of transmission has changed.

Blogging among Catholics seemed to spring from two events, and in part, a transformation from the old message boards of the late 90’s.

Father Z adapted quite well from his early days as a moderator and turned blogging into a personal cottage industry. I think chat rooms and the old 90’s-style stuff is still in the internet wilderness somewhere. But blogging provides a wider platform the old didn’t provide: images, video, sound, and a deeper personalization.

It might have been Amy Welborn who commented that 9/11 and the Boston sex abuse cover-ups jump-started Catholic bloggers into action in 2001-02. It was at least a conflation of blog platforms and a reason to keep the discussion going. But bloggers good and otherwise have been dropping from view ever since. Some of us have died. Some of us found that the demands of real life took time away from the internet–Deo gratias, many have said. Especially families.

Mary O’Regan writes:

Nearly five years ago, I started a Catholic blog that has been modestly successful. The high-point was when I was invited to the Vatican Blogmeet in May 2011. During those exhilarating days of Benedict’s pontificate, bloggers raised their voices in support of the German Pope.

Will the apex of the blogosphere be remembered for “exhilarating days,” or was it just a coincidence of a particular pope and a particular technology? I’m not sure I found those days to be terribly exhilarating, from the viewpoint of Church, its theology and politics. But I kept writing–only God knows why.

Ms O’Regan, unlike other lamenters, does offer some positive advice:

As regards bloggers who are “low on inspiration”, perhaps they could devote their energy to myth busting? This takes patience and fortitude, but surely there is little excuse to be idle when by and large our society has such bewildered ideas about our faith. We have a missionary faith, and the Church exists for the aim of saving souls.

It’s a curious thing. Nothing I write these days has any real impact on the visits this site generates. About 80 to 85% of the traffic here is due to people looking for readings for their weddings or funerals. Those posts were written two to six years ago.

I don’t think my mission is about saving souls as much as it is presenting the Gospel in whatever terms I can muster, and then get the heck out of the way.

And if getting out of the way means some bloggers are dropping their time spent on the internet, maybe it’s being spent in prayer or with family instead. And that’s a good thing, too.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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