Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bless Me Father, For I Have Blogged

Harmless Fun With Rabbits, or Courting Damnation?

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. 
James 3:1-6 (NABRE)

James may be noteworthy for its  percentage consisting of warnings about the tongue, but you can find similar admonitions throughout the Bible. Our Lord said:

21 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

Aside from prophets, who were speaking directly on behalf of God, speaking ill of another is universally condemned.

Yet every day thousands of Catholic bloggers sit down before keyboards and bang out criticism and even ridicule of not just anyone, but priests, bishops, and even the Pope. The more outrageous we can be, the more people like it, it seems. Often, our comboxes are filled with the same.

The Bear wonders about this. Behind every blog is a blogger working out his or her salvation. Are they damaging themselves spiritually by harming the reputation of others and causing scandal?

There are three types of blogs, or blog articles. The Bear will skip straight up reporting. So next would be commentary, which will often characterize the actions and motivations of persons. Then there's agitprop, which is usually not informative, but is designed to encourage and entertain the blogger's audience by an appeal to humor or pathos.

Are there limits to fair comment? To agitprop? Clearly, it would be safest to not blog at all, or keep it non-topically "cozy." The Bear has some ideas about this, that he will share in the future. For now, though, what do you think? How do other bloggers reconcile the moral component of blogging?

The Bear asks just one thing. Don't anticipate what his answers are yet.


  1. I have altered my blogging over the years. I don't do any personal life blogging beyond entertainment, books, tv, general mass observations. I commented on my parish a couple of times and realized I didn't need the trouble it could cause. I don't blog about my children, spouse, or other family members. Got me in trouble once, there too. So, no blogging about real life.

    As for blogging on Catholic teaching, I don't blog in the tone that tells readers you are not Catholic if you don't X just like me. I will state what the Church teaches and what I understand her to teach. I wont' say you reader are not Catholic if you don't X. I can't do that. I am not the pope, nor any clergy, much less God Himself. I probably am going too far on Francis of late. There are many more moral lessons. I will stop here. It's quite a lot to think about frankly. And we should think about it.

  2. Well, Bear, I do wonder where you are going with this. I think you might know this papacy has confused me and I have had to confess what I feel were sins of bitterness, the loss of hope and what is that sin where you damage someone's reputation by pointing out a fault that might not otherwise be known?

    For what it is worth, I have stumbled upon a few guidelines that *I think* will help me to steer clear of sinful blogging in the future.

    1. Avoid name-calling and labelling at all costs. **** If something someone does really enrages me, then I will describe what they have done--perhaps briefly and bluntly-- and attempt to explain in detail why *I think* what they did was so enraging. Once I have labelled and pigeon-holed an opponent, it is pretty clear that I have set myself above them, judged them and consider myself pretty much through with them.
    2. Use sarcasm and irony sparingly. It just insults and blinds your opponent to any reasoned argument you might want to offer.
    3. Respect people's privacy. i.e. if I am commenting about a situation with which I have personal experience, I try to be vague enough so that even people who know me will not be able to identify any 'miscreants'. e.g. I blogged about being denied Holy Communion because I knealt down--ok, there was no way that was going to go un-blogged! But I made every effort to conceal the where and the who.

    ****(there is a Catholic bishop I know of, who I wish would take this rule to heart)

    1. The Bear is often a rollicking fellow who probably goes too far for some. Some of the stuff he does would lose him credibility, if a Bear had any to start with. Perhaps that is why it would be a Bear that started this blog to begin with. In re-reading posts as part of this examination, he is impressed at how snarky some of them are. He thinks, "Come for the snark, stay for the legitimate points."

  3. I careen from hope to despair and back again. It gets me very down sometimes, and on those rare times I post something that has any real value, it reminds me why I do it.

    As I have posted before, the Lucky Charms-o-meter is pegged very low in this pontificate, and there is a palpable spiritual malaise that can't but affect us all. There is a real spiritual battle, and there are real spiritual opponents.

    I don't know if you are a Lord of the Rings reader, but if you are this might give you a view how I feel. In The Two Towers, as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are tracking the orc party to Isengard, they feel a weariness that came not from any physical cause, but from a hostile will that sought to get them to give up or give out.

    That is what I feel so very often these days. So, everyday I consider ending my stupid blog. But then I remember that it can be fun, and that seven other people like it, and I slog on.

    I try to post often to retain a readership for those good posts I sometimes have, and upon reflection and conversation with people I respect, I think that is what wearies the most. The need to post-no-matter-what. So, I have resolved, for the millionth time to post when I really want to, trying always to keep to the positive.

    Of course I have failed in this before, and likely will again. But, what of that?

    Nunc coepi.

    1. The need to post frequently does indeed wear down even a Bear. The goal is once a weekday because I imagine people like to get into a habit, and expect fresh content. Sometimes it's just too much and I'll run. Or I feel guilty. I imagine I'm writing solely for the readers who post -- the Beloved Woodland Creatures. That's the main reason I continue, because I miss them when I don't post,

      About once a week, I'll think about dropping the blog. This is complicated by my distemper.

      Sometimes the need to post something may (does) degrade quality. Or I'll post a "cozy." When I first started blogging, I did long, well-researched pieces like you would find in a magazine. They were good, stuff on Catholic gun control, the Bath Township School massacre, But you can't do that every day. Or even every week, if you do anything else. So it's definitely a mixed bag.

      Yes, ordinary fatigue plays a part, but it does seem that the sheer disgust -- it's the only word -- is hard to explain. Mostly, as long as people read, I'll write. I'll be glad to say goodbye to Pope Francis for Lent.


Moderation is On.

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...