Of Zeitgeist

The Catholic blogosphere can be vexing, amusing, and amateurish–all in one swoop. Also earnest. In today’s Catholic Church there’s definitely an undercurrent of wishfulness. Wish it were three years ago, or a hundred and three? These guys (and it’s mostly guys) have your number.

I noticed the Nazi card at the site OnePeterFive today. And whether the stories are about Anne Frank or Joseph Ratzinger or Dietrich von Hildebrand, one is stirred as like a patriotism for freedom against Hitler Sauron the devil of the moment.

From Mark Nowakowski’s essay at 1P5:

The New Evangelization can be nothing if it is not first and foremost an active spirit of striving against the Zeitgeist of our times, while Hildebrand’s spirit of positive defiance lives on in the countless blogs and citizen journalist efforts of Catholics around the world.

I don’t see it.

First, evangelization, new or otherwise, is not about some spirit. Definitely not some spirit of strife. It is about Jesus Christ. And it is only about him. It is not some political or quasi-political movement for a smaller, purer church. Holiness comes with evangelization, and holiness is seen in saints across the board. Left, right, or whatever. A certain vehemence in one’s stance in politics is likely a marker against a certain holiness. Mainly because Christ is, or should be, at the center of evangelization.

Certainly the notion of citizen journalism – and the implied lack of gatekeepers – can lead to a lack of quality control, while the very term “blogger” can have a silly and amateurish ring to it.

Sometimes more than a ring. Sometimes a cacophony. But notice the division espoused just by the term. If the pajama journalists are “citizens” then the implication is that people who submit their work to editors and some communal work format, and even get paid for it perhaps are not citizens. Or they are less of citizens for being better writers with better eyes, and usually better manners.

Yet when the gatekeepers are increasingly Catholic “Kapos” and co-opted cowards, their efforts become counterproductive, while it is the counterinsurgency of the Catholic blogosphere which makes an increasingly mainstream mark. While they cannot possibly match the global reach of mainstream propagandist outlets, together they have generated a sustained and uncompromising buzz of international activity, while giving orthodoxy a brave and independent voice.

Such “orthodoxy” is also marked by independence from heretics, and dissenters, defined as “any person who disagrees with my agenda.” This includes bishops and popes. It happens whenever some pronouncement or stance is at odds with elements of the blogosphere. If you doubt it, consider the vehemence in blog threads where certain heroes are criticized: Mr Voris, Fr Corapi, and others. To his credit, Mark Shea has a certain eye for hypocrisy on the Right, and he gets tarred for it often enough.

The blogosphere has allowed faithful Catholics to represent their legitimate worldview and integrity, to take back their religious language, and to plot a way forward through a hostile culture (sometimes despite the policies of Bishops and the naive efforts of more mainstream Catholic sources.)

And the blogosphere has also allowed Catholics to wander off into schism or worse, to narrow their worldview to a very small backyard, to lose their integrity, to invent language, and to build a hostile culture online.

What I find missing in the writing I used to read online and still do a little bit is a lack of discernment. In every sense of that word. So a Catholic blogger can’t get a job with some writing outlet. I might be more impressed if more bloggers opted for spiritual direction if they insist on being so counter-cultural.

The hermeneutic works well enough subtracting teachers, mentors, editors, discipline, and a paycheck. Why not try adding something? Having one’s spouse, children, and pastor review one’s work.

Zeitgeist … the spirit of the age, eh? What if the spirit of the age is fragmentation, poor manners, insult, individualism, and narcissism? I’m not too sure that Catholics bloggers–and I have to include myself in the group–are indeed children of the age. Even those of us who think we perch safely on a high ledge.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Hermeneutic of Subtraction, The Blogosphere and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Of Zeitgeist

  1. Melody says:

    The “blogosphere”…kind of like the bandar-log.

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