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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"No Blog Is An Island"

An article in the latest National Catholic Reporter explores the Catholic blogosphere, and this humble blogger gets a mention:

While bloggers often link to other blogs or other media to build ideas, some aim to destroy, as Fr. Martin indicated earlier. Most bloggers will argue, with some justification, that they are attacking the argument, not the person. While that’s generally true, it’s easy to see how the venom directed at someone’s words can sting the speaker and his or her supporters. Even more, it’s blog readers who cross the line. Most blogs include comments sections -- “comboxes” for short (not for nothing does the word resemble “combat”), where readers can add their own thoughts, and sometimes no holds are barred. When Gerald Augustinus of the otherwise reliably orthodox “Cafeteria Is Closed” blog wrote of his support for gay rights this past March, he was hit with a barrage of hostile comments that went on for a month. A sampling: “Whether or not you realize it, on this issue you are a pseudo disciple of Satan!” “As to your new militant pro-sodomite stance, I will be reporting these posts of yours to the Catholic League as soon as possible. ... Hope to see you soon at your own personal auto-de-fé. You brought this all on yourself. Apostate.” More recently, the “Cafeteria Is Closed” blog shut down.

Several bloggers lament the acrimony of their occupation. Jesuit Fr. Mark Mossa closed his blog about seminary life, “... And I let Myself Be Duped,” after online attacks, remarking, “I’ve grown tired of swimming against the tide. The most negative Catholic blogs still continue to be the most popular.” The “Aún Estamos Vivos” blog commiserated: “Do we all feel so safe behind a keyboard that we feel free to write things that we would never say face-to-face without coming to blows?”

On the other hand, “Catholic Sensibilities’ ” Todd Flowerday enjoys the virtual jousting and says of some traditionalist blogs, “Being in the extreme minority of their commentariats is a guilty pleasure. It keeps me sharp, crossing swords with them.” The collegial Christopher Blosser regards “Vox Nova” as a favorite blog even though it often posts things that “we at ‘Catholics in the Public Square’ might consider ‘fighting words.’ So, as you might expect, we’ve had our share of online feuds.” Imagine the blog wars to come over how Catholics should vote this fall.