Monday, September 28, 2015

Do You Suffer From a Low Information-Action Ratio?

A Low Information-Action Ratio

The Bear was reading one of his favorite blogs, Et Cum Spiritu Tuo, and was led to a story about Cardinal Daneels admitting to a "mafia" against Pope Benedict XVI, which ultimately led to Jorge Bergoglio's election as Pope.

Oh dear, what does one do with such information? Is that old bear, Pope Benedict really the Pope? Do we wake up to find Bobby in the shower, and the entire Francis Pontificate a dream? But before we address that, we know that a cabal of German bishops are conspiring to hijack the Synod on the Family (possibly with Pope Francis' connivance) and approve divorce and gay unions! But getting back to Pope Francis, what's up with that visit, anyway, and concelebrating priests taking selfies?

Neil Postman (1931-2003) was one of the greatest social commentators ever, and wrote the greatest book about our age. It is called Amused to Death.

A High Information-Action Ratio

Imagine you are in a mid-nineteenth century small American town, somewhere between the Ohio river and the Rockies. Let's call it Tumbleweed. A storm comes along and knocks down the church steeple. Everyone knows, of course, and the men get to work putting it back up, while the women bring them lemonade and cookies. The repair is well within the scope of the town's abilities.

A week later, word spreads that the schoolmarm showed up at the schoolroom a little tipsy. The ladies of the town quietly take the matter in hand.

The Johnson family's crop was blighted. No one makes a big thing about it, but foodstuffs are quietly gathered and they are provided for.

In each of these examples, the town receives no more information about problems than they themselves can address. They enjoy a high information-action ratio. In other words, they can act on the all the information they receive. They do not receive information they cannot act upon. They feel a measure of control over their world that we can't even imagine.

The Telegraph

One day, men come with tall poles and big wooden spools of wire. A stranger sets up some sort of clackity-clack device in the railroad station. Somebody recognizes it. "It's the telegraph! The news comes over those wires they're settin' up. It's all done with clicks of that thing-a-ma-jig, but that there man knows what it's sayin'."

In short order, the train delivers a huge, heavy crate. Townspeople gather around in excitement as the wood is pried apart to reveal a printing press. "We're gonna have us a newspaper!" exclaims the same man who knew about the telegraph. (He must be a city slicker.)

"A newspaper," another man scoffs, winking at his fellows. "What happens in Tumbleweed worth puttin' in a newspaper?" His jibe is rewarded by laughter.

"Go ahead, laugh," says Mr. Know-It-All. "But this here newspaper is going to have stories from all over the country, the world, even. And it'll all come right down those telegraph wires. Think of it! We're not going to be stuck here in Tumbleweed knowing just the small dealings of our town. If a ship sinks, we'll know about it. If there's a new King of England, we'll know that too. Disasters! Wars! Controversies! However often that fellow decides to print his newspaper, that's how often we'll know about everything! Imagine, the whole world is coming to Tumbleweed!"

One of the first stories carried by the telegraph and printed in the newspaper was an outbreak of yellow fever in New Orleans that killed thousands.

Brave New World

The telegraph slithered into the garden of Tumbleweed and whispered to the people: you shall know like God. Now the townspeople's heads were filled with problems about which they could do nothing. Postman wrote in the age of television. How quaint, compared to our internet-fueled day where consumers of news are themselves producers, and editorial comment is provided by anyone with access to wifi.

In his forward, Postman compares Orwell's vision of the future, 1984, to Huxley's Brave New World. It makes for fascinating reading, but slightly off-point for the Bear's purposes. Suffice it to say that Postman wrote this: "'In 1984,' Huxley added, 'people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.' In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

What do we love? The Church. Could our very love of what is holy contribute to our ruin? Wouldn't that be positively satanic!

A low-information action ratio refers to the helplessness of people faced with unlimited, decontextualized information. The relationship between information and action has become so attenuated, what's left is a feeling of helplessness. The problem isn't the steeple on the church, it's the Church.

We try to satisfy our disquiet with more information, or -- and this is new -- tailoring our information sources to only those we find agreeable. Neither way contributes to getting to the ultimate truth, nor still yet doing something about it ("action") which is the real issue.

Postman doesn't offer a solution, to the Bear's recollection, but it has been awhile since he read Amused to Death. He'll do that soon.

Low Information-Action Ratio in Ecclesiastical Politics

If it is not obvious by now, the Bear is saying we suffer from a low information-action ratio when it comes to ecclesiastical politics. What if we really knew why Pope Benedict XVI stepped down? Or what sketchy Cardinals were involved in a "mafia?" Or what exactly the German bishops were up to? Is there anything we could do with that information?

If the engine light comes on in your car, the action is clear and doable: take it in. But sifting through a glut of information to obtain timely, actionable intelligence about the Church that you and your neighbors can handle -- like Tumbleweed's church steeple being knocked down? No. It is an impossible fantasy. We read, and we create more information. No wonder we fret so!

And supply is just part of the problem with our limitless appetite for information. What about "action?" We never really get to the bottom of anything. And if we ever were to get near it, we would be distracted by the next scandal, some other juicy tidbit to engage, enrage or enthrall us. And if we were somehow finally able to master it all (impossible, of course), what could we do, practically speaking? Nothing. We would have only made our low information-action ratio worse.

That's not our fault. That is just the nature of the information machine we have created as it interacts with the human brain. Our brains were designed to use information that they sip, as it were. When we hook up our brains to a fire hose of data, far beyond their power to do anything about, the Bear shall let you guess the result. Confusion, fear, anger and ultimately paralysis is probably the best we can expect.

Whatever it is, it is probably not going to be the most peaceful place for prayer and reflection, but, rather, an occasion for pride and wrath.

The telegraph lines are singing right into our heads these days, and we sit, our jaws lax, as we know too much, but can do nothing about it. As always, that old serpent who seemed to promise us so much turned out to be a cheat.

The "take away" from this little essay is that Postman was onto something, the Bear thinks. Feeling helpless isn't pleasant, and we don't always make things better when we try to do something about that. Feeling helpless is inevitable in the internet age, just as it was, to a lesser extent in Postman's television age, or even when the telegraph insinuated itself into the innocent town of Tumbleweed. 

There is no apparent answer to the modern problem of the low information-action ratio. Just another trap to be aware of in the information age.

And now, reward you for your attention during a long essay, here's the title track from Roger Waters' best album, Amused to Death, obviously inspired by Neil Postman. (Is anyone even doing serious concept albums anymore?)


  1. Excellent post. My pastor said something similar recently. He told me to stop worrying about things I couldn't change and to focus on my own spiritual health. I was feeling helpless and wasn't focused on my prayer life. Say the Rosary everyday, offer sacrifices for sinners, and be faithful to our daily duties and we will get through this. It is the message of Fatima.

  2. Yes I agree we must sanctify our own little corner of the universe first of all. The Internet has taught me so much about the treasure trove which is our Faith and other marvellous things as well. For instance, Father Z's blog gave a fascinating explanation of last night's "blood moon". So, the Internet has its place and opens up our worlds.

    We must learn to discern! When I read of the Daneels revelation it seemed like the Catholic Enquirer on steroids. I simply put my trust in the good bishops of the world that they will do the right thing. I'm not obsessing on it at all.

    Many more traditional leaning Catholics are isolated geographically from like-minded individuals. The Internet can offer succor. I'm involved in the prayer campaign for the outcome of the synod. I feel united with others in that effort.

    Again, we must avoid hysteria. Someone should compose a beautiful prayer a Catholic should say before logging on to the Internet.

  3. I think Fr. Z has a prayer. St. Isidore of Seville is the Patron Saint of the Internet. Here is one prayer:

    Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Of course there it's such a thing as too much of even a good thing. How many blogs are enough each day? How much is "enough," (Which the Bear would guess is very little,) vs. "too much," (which is probably very little from a low information-action perspective)? Especially when you consider every minute we're on the internet we are not reading Scripture, The Interior Cattle, the Rule of St. Benedict, our something else that is timeless.

    Hey, the Bear spends way to much time, so it's not holding himself up as a paragon. He thinks it is an issue we must all deal with as part of stewardship of time.

    1. In my profession in the public transportation industry, as with many jobs and ways of life, it is essential, when faced with a crisis of some kind, to gather information before choosing a course of action and response.

      A poor response is to recognize a crisis and act without a well-formed plan. To go off half-cocked as it were. Or, to fail to act because you do not see the problem developing leading to surprise and getting swept away by circumstances and an undesired outcome.

      The proper response is to see the first symptoms of crisis and start gathering info while there is still time to ponder. Then, take the info, and in discussion with other wise people, do something with it that has the best chance of success. Lead the events through knowledge and control, rather than be led by them in surprise.

      Long story short, I am a Catholic today largely because I would not accept the Protestant narrative and continued to gather information due to my sense of spiritual crisis and by circuitous paths, that led my Here. In a similar way I see current events with great dread and am gathering data to be prepared for what that means for me and my family. I am convinced all we see on the Big Stage will ultimately reach us all in a most intimate way in our little slice of the world and quite quickly too.

      I may not have a seat in the Synod, but annulments are coming to our local Parishes. Our friends, possibly our Spouses, are taking note and adjusting their beliefs and my act upon them. I disagree most strongly that we should do as you propose even though I see why you would say it. The battle, and it is a battle, is coming to our homes. The ground is shifting under our feet. EVERYONE knows this, no matter what side of the Issue we are on. Be prepared for your own sake and those you love so you are not overwhelmed in surprise.

      That's my opinion. Thanks for giving me space to express it. All the best, Bear.

    2. Yes, information is good when you have the ability to do something with it. In your case, you had the ability to come into the Church.

      I was talking about the very specific issue of being bombarded with information that you cannot do anything about. If you believe you can act on the machinations of Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Marx, and whatever comes out of the Synod, then you have a higher information-action ratio than I do. To me, that is information that presents a problem that I have no power over. If they were to bend the Church, realistically there's nothing I can do about it. If people are getting annulments right and left in my diocese, I don't know what I could do do about that.

      So there is only a low information-action ratio if you know too much about stuff you can't solve. If you can solve the things that you're bombarded about, then you have a high information-action ratio (you can fix the Church steeple). This is hardly possible today, and I'm sure you can see why.

      I don't really see how you can disagree with my advice since I didn't advocate a course of action :-)

      Information per se is not bad, but we need to be aware of the adverse effects of a low information-action ratio. Do I have advice? Nope. You now know what a low information-action ratio is and what difficulties it might present to your brain. You can disbelieve it, or disregard it; it's up to you to do what you think best.

      I will say this. Perhaps we can wait and see what happens with the synod. Unless there is a plan to identify and target schemers beforehand, speculation or even revelations about this plot or that seems to me premature, since there is nothing to be done about it. A perfect example of low information-action ratio.

      I know people see this is non-caring, or wimping out. That part of the brain where you care what other people think? Bears don't have that.

    3. P.S. some of us may not be able to fix the Catholic Church (assuming we believe it needs fixing) but there is one thing we have control over: how we use God's grace, how we spend our day, how we help others, and how we pray and read Holy Scripture. This is also an example of a high information-action ratio, which is a good place for our brains to be in.

    4. Oh, and as for Bears not caring about what people think, that was said in a light ;-) friendly :-) even happy :-D way, and not a way to get offended by!

    5. You bring up a very important point, Bear. I have long thought that we human beings are hard-wired for village life. In our current situation, it seems that those of us who are temperamentally best able to cope with the information overload without actually tuning it out, will be the ones that have the best possibility of living happy lives. Proper focus on spiritual life is doubtless an aid to that,

    6. My problem, is that the mission, from the Pope down to most every Parish in the world, is one I already saw and rejected in the Protestant church. I recognized deep-seated sin in myself and acceptance of that condition by my church and a message of eternal life, despite it; perhaps because of it. My conscience drove me to find deliverance. My Protestant church said stop obsessing about it. My conscience drove me to drastic family sacrifice and change.

      I entered the Catholic Church because it seamlessly combined ALL the elements of deliverance from sinful slavery to righteous freedom and had done so continuously since Christ. It demanded submission to Christ through the visible Church as the price of eternal life. THAT was what I sought.

      The current message of the Pope is VERY, VERY PERSONAL to me. That is why it makes me viscerally angry, (and why I read blogs since that anger is a fearful thing for me as a novice Catholic). It goes against the grain of my entire journey in life to salvation in the Church. And this message is not contained in an ivory tower behind the Vatican walls in Rome. It is in almost every Parish I have ever visited, and I visit a lot. We avoid the worst of it by diligently finding the best Parish available and attending the TLM when we can.

      I hear what you are saying. I am in fact convicted to get off blogs and the Internet entirely. But I will also say that this current condition is a real trial for my Faith. It would be very easy to just walk away from these Priests who say sinful actions do not exclude you from Life; that the modern way (which is so much like my previous Protestant way), is better than the un-merciful way of the "past" under which I converted. And not just better. True vs. Hypocrisy and Pharisaism. I represent the WORST under the modern Catholic Church. I stand condemned. I am a hypocrite in the new Church. My Protestant family says something similar about my belief. Oh, the conversations we've had. I stand very much alone in my convictions.

      I am highly frustrated. I don't suppose that just turning off the channel and staying "local" is really going to solve anything for me. But there it is.

    7. Thanks Bear. I am interested in everything that happens today in the Catholic Church because as Catholics, as members of the Church Militant, we are, in part, responsible for what goes on. And what is going on now is the increasing evidence of the corruption that has permeated the Church from top to bottom for many years and gets worse by the day as you point out.

      And the reason I want to know these thing is because we are obligated to do something about it by understanding what's happening and what caused it, who caused it, etc. Once known then we can disseminate this information far and wide in order precipitate a resistance movement to the various evils. Another thing we can do is pray. Another is donate to those who are doing the resisting, etc. etc.

      So Mr. Bear please help us keep up the good fight and we will do the same for you.

      Today is the feast day of St Michael , Raphael, and Gabriel all of whom will help us in our fight if we ask them.

    8. Prayer and donation are actions that are within your information-action ratio. (Trying to keep the discussion in line with the essay.) But I am sure you see the potential danger in giving too much attention on matters over which you cannot control. We can't control who the pope is, or what Pope Francis is going to say or do. (And in the credit where credit is due department, has anyone noticed he doesn't seem to have as many gaffes as he used to?)

      The Buddha spoke of "acceptance of what is," and Pope Francis said we should drink from the wells of other faiths.

      Just kidding.

      This little essay was just the Bear throwing out some information relevant to our situation with the internet and the Church that he found interesting. Like the Screwtape letter on One Peter Five. We all have our missions. One Bear can't save the Church. But he just might keep one person in the Church. Too much negativity draws and audience, but it is not necessarily "edifying" to use St. Paul's wonderful word. He will be as entertaining and engaging as he can, because without a readership he can't do anything with this blog, except feed his ego.

      Criticism will continue to be part of the mix, but hopefully with better context. There are hundreds if not thousands of Catholic blogs providing a steady red-meat diet of the outrage of the day (or of 1965). The Bear wants to be a little different. Stick around and see where this goes. The worst that can happen is that you can be challenged occasionally. I know you're up for it, Michael. The Bear is not going to cease being the Bear.

      St. Michael is my confirmation name! Here's a little story. My son was involved in a battle in Afghanistan in which some of his buddies lost their lives. He kept praying "St. Michael help me!" as he employed his grenade launcher. He survived unharmed. Another time, an insurgent jumped out of an alley and sprayed his squad with automatic weapon fire at short range. Miraculously, no one was hit. (I'm still mad that the Army did not manage to provide a Catholic chaplain while my son was downrange.) BTW, the insurgent threw down his weapon and ran away, secure in the knowledge that the ROE would not allow them to return fire.

    9. BRIAN -- growling just so you'll see this, that's all. The Bear sympathizes with the old "Catholic Convert Bait and Switch." When I was a Protestant, I read everything I could get my hands on, and had books with Latin in them. I came into the Church as a wide-eyed lamb.

      It didn't take long to figure out I had been duped. The Church wasn't anything like the books I read. There was no RCIA, so my instruction was to read the Dutch Catechism. (I should have figured out something was wrong.) I wanted and expected one thing, and found something different. I, too, was disappointed.

      If you're been around here any time, you know that I eventually left the Church for Orthodoxy. Now THERE was no false advertising. It was everything I THOUGHT I was getting in the Catholic Church! But, years later, I came back to the Church on a December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was not dissatisfied with the Orthodox Church (although it was an ethnic club I'd never really belong to) but I knew that my place was with Peter. That's the way I thought of it. And that's what has kept me going ever since.

      Anger is not a good place, Brian, as I'm sure you know. People used to seldom, if ever, hear anything from the Pope. Now we hear from him or about him every day. Same with bishops. All the essay says is what you already know: we're saturated with information, most of it really not ready for prime time. Naturally we feel frustration and anger.

      The Bear used to contribute to that without a second thought. I think many are assuming that the Bear has morphed into Mark Shea overnight. Nope. He's just going to be aware of the effect of his work on souls who may be struggling, who may be tempted.

      I enjoy your comments very much, Brian. One unexpected but welcome result of the change in tone of this blog is that while, sadly, some familiar commenters are gone, there are new people. (I don't know why that should be. Were they intimidated by a "clubbish" atmosphere? I don't know.)

      But, Brian, if you are unsettled by the blogs you read, maybe it would be a good idea to stop reading them. (Except for SCB, of course, where you get the best of both worlds!) You're not ready to hear this -- I know I wasn't when I was in the same place it sounds like you're in -- but the Church is here to save you -- you're not here to save the Church. As with most of the things we read about, there's just not anything we can, not on the big issues. People do the same with politics. They're angry all the time, gonna change the world, by gum! I have noticed that my life as lived has not been different between Reagan and Obama. And honestly, my Catholicism is not different between Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.

      Your job, Brian is to get into Heaven, and, if you can, to get as many of your family in, too. Throw in some spiritual and corporal works of mercy, a good prayer life (rosary, and/or morning, evening and night prayer from Divine Office) and regular scripture reading, and you're doing well. It's easy to get stirred up and want to "fight" and "change things." The being a plain ol' Roman Catholic like I described (trying to get into Heaven) and the role of Holy Warrior is a difficult mix. May God bless you, Brian, and guide you on the safest way for your soul.

    10. Bear, I appreciate your personal comments. I really do. Those that confirm what I know to be true are very, very few and far between. It is helpful to read musings from like-minded Catholcs to help light the way.

      And that is how I would express my disagreement with you. I don't read blogs to get angry. I read them to remain sane; to remain in the Faith. Because what I see every day, everywhere (with small notable blessed exceptions) would lead me right on out. I entered the Church Past, Present and Future and not some focus-group tested, pale - imitation Protestant Mega-Church wannabe. I've seen the real thing. When Catholcs try to imitate that it is embarrassing and very discouraging. When the Catholic Hierarchy purveys their stone soup theology it hits me deep in the solar plexus.

      The Church Past gives me a measuring stick against what I see today in the Chirch a Present. That is a HUGE advantage. I read blogs to make sure my plum line remains true, (since my personal Parish level help is precious small), and NOT, repeat NOT in order to get angry.

    11. That's good you can read blogs and not become angry. Yes, blogs can be a reminder of what's different today. But one of the reasons I'm not a traddie is that the essence of the Church is the same, even as it is expressed in different times and cultures. To me, the despised "Novus Ordo Church" is what I call the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church. It is quite different from the past! I stopped measuring our Church against an ideal of the past. I am perfectly, and I mean that quite sincerely, happy in a "Novus Ordo Mass." Intellectually, I could pick it apart, of course, but it's the Mass of my Church, and the way Jesus is given to me.

      I don't agree with a lot of what Pope Francis has said, either. And you know what, there were parts of Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth I found a bit scandalizing and didn't care for. A Bear takes the sting to get to the honey.

      But there is plenty of room for differences of opinion. If I didn't want people to disagree with me, I wouldn't have cared about the effect I might be having on people. Anyway, I'm glad you're not coming away from here angry. (I hope!) That's all I'm responsible for.

    12. At the risk of over-commenting (done now I promise), I can't help but observe that revolutionary change of the liturgical, sacramental presentation of Jesus' sacrifice, coincide tightly with revolutionary explosion of sin in the Church and the world. I mean come on: we are not only killing babies, we are harvesting parts and selling them over lunch. A prominent, vocal, homosexual activist was chosen to read Holy Scripture for the Pope. Marriage was dealt a fatal blow via nullify for all. We have completely lost our way. No real complaints from anyone. Just warm applause for it all.

      I will follow the example of Joshua: "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord".

      Now I am done. Gone for a while.

    13. I would tend to attribute the explosion of sin to the general explosion in society in the 60s.

      Last I heard, Our Lord was in the tabernacle at your parish church.

      Your comments are always welcome, Brian.

    14. Yeah, the Vatican II revolution started when?

      Yeah, Our Lord's Tabernacle is hidden unseen off in a corner. A gleaming nine piece drum set is under our Lord's Crucifix.

    15. Oh, dear, please don't turn out to be a Vatican II rejecter / Latin Mass onlyist. I'll assume you're not until I hear otherwise. You realize this blog has a particular purpose, right, and you've read the articles that set that out, right? The Bear's parish doesn't have drums. If it did, he would get used to drums. Bear's are flexible that way.

  4. Sounds more like a sophisticated way to explain ostrich behavior. But there is a fatal flaw in even that - rejecting certain truths so as to say you don't know and can't act. The old Israel did that for the most part at the first coming and was nearly wiped out in 70AD. The new Israel will repeat the process but for the second coming. Instead of Romans it will be communists, Russia and China. As Jesus said, will I find any faith when I return? And the householder would not suffer his house to be broken into if he knew when the thief was coming and remained awake. I hear lots of loud ostrich snoring.

    1. This goes out to everyone who advocates action. Okay, the floor is yours! Briefly outline your plan to fix the Catholic Church, and as long as it doesn't involve unfaithfulness to the Church, the Bear will join you!

      All you folks with a high information-action ration, just what have we got to do to make sure the Synod doesn't do something wicked? What's the plan to turn Pope Francis into Pope Pius XII? To repeal Vatican II? Heck, let's have modest goals and at least get rid of the "Novus Ordo Mass."

      It's easy to talk about "fighting," and "ostriches" and being afraid to act. It may even be easy to convince yourself that you are saving the Church. Those who just kind of pretend John XXIII and Vatican II and everything after never happened at least have a logically consistent position.

      And, RC, let's be clear. The essay just proposed a fact: that information which overwhelms the means to act produces a feeling of helplessness that is characteristic of our age. You are free to disagree. But as to the Church, do you disagree that too much attention on things we can't do anything about can impact our religion and our spiritual life negatively? There are people for whom being Catholic involves an obsessive study of ecclesiastical politics. (It's true, believe it or not.) Now, are you honestly going to tell me that is time well spent, and is going to dispose one's spirit to calm prayer and work? Where did Christ command us to arbitrate between Peter and James, or Peter and Paul, or form and broadcast an independent judgment over everything His Church does?

      But it's just an essay. If anyone thought about it, great. And I'm not picking on you, RC. I know you're smart and secure enough to take it ;-)

    2. Just a fact? Clever trial lawyer. Figures don't lie and liars figure, meaning that facts can ba presented in a way to convince people of truth when the truth is absent or obscured. I don't accuse you of lying but point out how you used said process. Francis uses the half truth method regularly.

      What does one do?

      1. Order your life to become a saint. The world is affected positively by that. Is sanctity your goal?
      2. Know your faith enough to detect when you are being lied to and when your sacraments are valid or not.
      3. Hiding in your den is not allowed, because of being buried in the earthquake and the obligation to assist your fellow woodland creatures. With knowledge comes responsibility and you are JUDGED by it.
      4. Get to know faithful priests and where your local SSPX are because the sacraments will be invalidated. That's the abomination of desolation in the Bible.
      5. Obtain a mass kit for traveling priests (like I will be) and some supplies for the catacomb mass that will be required. Be prepared to house them temporarily.

      Yes Bear, part of my mission IS to help save the Church. A voice crying out in the wilderness who will provide the Lamb of God when the visible parish system will have apostasized. There is precedent in the Arian heresy. Francis will make priests sign an oath in allegiance to him and his dogmatic approval of sin.

  5. Love you Bear, but agreeing with Brian. My action was to be conditionally baptized and conditionally confessed in a sede traditional chapel. Others may make different decisions and others may choose not to act at all but go along with the Vat 2 church status quo.

    Funny---the religion I was raised in ---S. Baptist-----sees the problems in the Church under Francis more clearly than most Catholics:

    Seattle Kim

  6. Once again, the answer is, "But, you just don't understand how bad Francis is!" Yeah, I get it. Postman might say, "If you really don't have a low information-action ratio, then fine, get your neighbors together and fix the Church tomorrow. Take a month if you need it." No, the point, dear friends, is that it is beyond our power. We don't have the high information-action ratio we pretend we do. For all our brave talk about not being ostriches, we can no more fix the Church ourselves than ostriches can fly -- or build a nuclear submarine. A segment has been angry (don't deny it) and unsettled for 50 years, and what as it accomplished in half a century? Being angry and unsettled, pretty much. Low action-information ratio. So, I ask, which is more dangerous, to recognize I can't fix the Synod (to pick an example) and act accordingly? Or to have an unrealistic view of my powers with the potential that my relationship with the Church is poisoned and my spiritual life becomes a shipwreck? I'm the movie Melancholia, an undiscovered planet is going to wipe out earth. Some characters obsessively read internet articles about it. Talk about a low information-action ratio! There's nothing to be done! It's out of their hands! Kirsten Dunst's character accepts it, and uncharacteristically finds peace in other things. Kiefer Sutherland's character follows it avidly, only to end up committing suicide when he realizes his information-action ratio couldn't be lower. Now the essay doesn't say don't do what you can just that people tend to fret about things they can't do anything about anyway. There's really nothing to disagree about with this observation. Did you read Screwtape's letter at One Peter Five? Says the same thing beautifully.

    1. I agree with you Bear and I'm one of those angry Catholics who have watched unfaithful Catholics control and destroy the Church I love and everything I have tried to do to counter that - including home schooling my children - hasn't really resolved anything in the wider Church. And it hasn't kept my children in the Church. However, I do have a parish, although very small, which offers both the EF Mass and the NO Mass every Sunday. And I work hard for my parish and so does my husband and daughter. However, I have begun to realize that prayer IS action. Prayer is not doing nothing. It's hard to pray when you don't feel like it. It's hard to get up every morning and go to Mass. But this is the reason our Blessed Mother came to Fatima. She told us to pray the Rosary every day, offer sacrifices for sinners, make the 5 first Saturdays and be faithful to our daily duties. If we're complaining about the Church but we haven't been doing what the Blessed Mother asked us to do then we don't understand the power of prayer to convert souls. Our priests, bishops and, yes, even the Pope, need conversion. It's hard to do the things Mary asked us to do. Spiritual warfare is hard. Don't despair. Pray.

    2. Excellent comment, Jamie. Prayer is always in our "information-action ratio" :-)

  7. Isn't the solution to the low action /information ratio, more action or better information or both. Since information provides the basis for action we cannot do without it. But what we need is a filter to take out all the bullshit so we can deal with the true and solid stuff. Helping separate out the truth is something the Bear is very good at doing Thanks Bear. Keep up the good work.

    1. er, language :-) I have been in both the Army and the Navy, so it doesn't bother me, but we have to be aware of some of the more delicate woodland creatures!

      I think context is important, too. Here's an example, Michael (and happy name day!) People didn't like Pope Francis' speech to Congress. He didn't mention the word abortion. He never mentioned Jesus once! Went along with religious liberty, instead of insisting the Church is the One and Only! The context I provided was Pope Benedict's 2008 speech, during his visit. Pope Benedict didn't mention those things, either.

      That's a useful context, because now we can see that everything people were demanding of Pope Francis are outside of reasonable expectations of these kinds of things. Maybe some other blogs did that, but I didn't see them.

      Now, the Bear could have jumped into the echo chamber and criticized the speech with everyone else, but he gave a detailed analysis, being critical where he felt it was warranted, and giving praise where he that that was warranted.

      Of course you can always say Pope Francis had a duty to ramp it up because this is an emergency, that times are so different from the good old days under Pope Benedict. That's fine. At least you had the information to form your own opinion.

      Thanks, the Bear shall continue to try to produce the very best Catholic blog written by a bear.

  8. Oh, I so need to read "The Interior Cattle"! Where can I get a copy??

    1. There are print and kindle editions at Amazon. I used the kindle ed. on m iPad and took it slow with lots and lots of highlighting! (Then promptly forget 90% of what I'd read!) I won't say what mansion I think I may have made it to, but it's not much of an accomplishment!

    2. Oh dear, Bear, what can I say? My inner cow thanks you.

      (I suspect a species of word blindness is at work!)

  9. I'm still trying to get out of the moat....


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