Recently Fr. Tim Finigan gave a thoughtful talk to the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain about parallels/connections between the phenomena of “new movements” and the Catholic blogosphere. He is onto something.
Even a cursory glance shows that both new movements and the growing influence of the blogosphere (which is overwhelmingly orthodox and traditionally Catholic) come from the grassroots. They are challenges to the status quo. They reveal that people are not getting from “normal” paths what Catholics need.
They aren’t getting what they need from The Tablet either. People are turning to the alternative Catholic media and a more reliable message.
Very well placed people are turning away from The Tablet and its like. There is an alternative media now.
In the wake of Fr. Finigan’s talk in Durham, comes this from The Tablet (aka RU-486) with my emphases and comments.
Let’s start look at this piece from RU-486 in the midst of Catherine Pepinster’s whine that public discourse is getting too rough. And this from the The Tablet! The Tablet, that oh so civilly suggested that having people strike the breast during the new translation of the Confiteor of Mass was tantamount to child abuse (HERE).
[T]he use of social media, particularly blogs and tweets, where instant reaction is coarsening debate. [Sometimes instant reaction is sparked by other people posting idiocies. Sometimes instant reaction sharpens debate by keeping the other side accountable.] And it’s evident not just in politics but in religion too, particularly in comment over the same topics that cause such vitriol in politics: life and death issues, sex, marriage, gays. [Oh no. No one should permit that there ever be spoken a sharp word about those issues. Imagine speaking up about mortal sins!] Friends who work at The Guardian tell me that great care has to be taken in monitoring its website whenever Catholics write opinion pieces, given the aggression of many readers’ instant responses to them. [Ehem.. I'll wager all the money in my pocket right now that if we were to study and group those comments, the vast, truly vast majority of them would be in the category of vicious anti-Catholic remarks rather than sharp comments by committed, faithful Catholics. Yes, there are "orthodox" Catholics who behave like jerks too. I lock them out of my combox regularly. But in the main, the really nasty stuff is from liberal catholics.]
Critics of the Church and of Catholics are not only to blame. Nasty, unChristian remarks abound within the Catholic world. [Yes, they do. And I'll go head to head with the writer on what it is like to get hate mail.] No wonder one Catholic journalist says he won’t read the most vicious sites of the Catholic blogosphere any more: he views them as an occasion of sin. [Boo hoo. Then get out and find something else to do. But wait.... (CUE CREEPY ORGAN CHORDS)... there's more!] But what’s worrying is that Rome is apparently keen to read them too. [Ooooo!]
The Vatican itself has become adept at using new media [Sorry... but here is another clue that the writer is clueless... "Vatican" and "adept" and "social media" in the same sentence? Really?] – check out YouTube, its tweets, its websites – realising the power of these twentyfirst-century opinion formers. [In "the Vatican" I think the byword is "Yesterday's technology tomorrow!". Okay, I am being a little too hard. The byword is really "We update technology every 75 years, whether it needs it or not." But here is the real problem... and this is KEY:] The word is that Vatican officials are gleaning much of their “knowledge” of the Church beyond Rome from blogs, including those that have made spite their signature dish. [Ooooo! Translation: The blogosphere is an alternative source and it is more trusted than The Tabletand other dying liberal dinosaurs. They are losing. They know that they are losing. They are running scared.]
If we have reached a stage when Rome’s views are shaped by bloggers’ vitriol rather than the opinions of its nuncios and its bishops, let alone sounding out the people in the pews who pray and pay, then something deeply distorted is developing. It’s certainly no way for Rome to learn to talk human. [Or even to talk English.]
My course, instant response?
When liberals start whining that we should tone down the rhetoric, that we should all make nice on other, blah blah blah, it means that they sense they are losing the argument. Conservatives/traditionalists/Catholics are supposed to lie down and let the liberals kick us to bloody bits and then, ever so nicely, say “Thank you!”.
The Tablet is increasingly irrelevant. What The Tablet is peddling is passé. A big shift is coming. They know it. They are panicking.
Finally, RU-486, more people will read what I, and men like Fr Finigan, and other good Catholic bloggers write in a day than will read your bitter pill in a month.