Thursday, May 10, 2018

More on Outrage

As Bear has thought about the comments from the last piece, he realized something.

The Bear himself has usually thought of this ephemeris as a “niche blog,” a reliably jaundiced, even clownish take on the current state of the Church. However, it has really never been that restricted.

The Bear has often taken his own view of broader cultural issues. This blog has been pretty eclectic. The Bear has written on all sorts of things, some for fun (at least for him), some on topics he thinks are interesting, overlooked, and useful in understanding the world we are making and why. Discussing doctrine without demographics seems futile, for example. Conducting arguments as if we were all living in 1988 and we are not more reactive, polarized and fragmented in a way we could not have imagined not long ago ignores reality.

There is a lot going on right now. That’s why the Bear has tried (in what he believes is his better work) to write about things in context. You can’t talk about problems in the Church without talking about problems in the West, problems in the world. To be brutally honest, not without being willing to examine your own personality, history and psychology since these are the filters through which you see everything.

This is not to deny there are problems. It is not even to deny there are outrageous things going on. The issue is how we should respond.

The Bear is essesentially a cultural critic who is Catholic. As such, examining Catholic blogging does not seem like some odd departure to him, especially since no one else seems to be doing it. Its response to current Church events has, or should have, given us something new to think about because it is affecting our understanding of the Church. Is the Church an identity or a collection of teachings? (If the latter, who in the wide spectrum of Catholic opinion among opponents of Pope Francis is right?) Not that blogs are some brand new thing, but we are using information in newer ways all the time, including social media.

What is new is the collision between these new ways of using information and this particular, peculiar  and challenging pontificate. There is something brand new and largely unexamined happening. That is just as worthy of discussing as anything else, in the Bear’s opinion.

Everyone seems pretty complacent about what the Bear is coming to realize is actually a pretty big deal. It’s a matter of perspective. The Bear is not going to define himself as a Christian or this blog by an opposition to Pope Francis. He never has.

We are not going to blog our way out of this. The Bear is not sure he can even resolve the contradictions to his own satisfaction. (Which would not, in any case, lead him out of the Church.) But we can contribute to the crisis. We might blog a way right out of the Church for ourselves or others by the complex attractions and subtle effects of outrage. That is the forest the Bear sees while everyone else seems to be looking at the trees.

A reminder: anonymous comments are not permitted. Please be courteous and identify yourself.


  1. Bear, just about anything you say has value even if it only results in finding a reason to disagree with you. Keep blogging. It befits you.

    1. That’s a nice thing to hear, and it is rarer that people are willing to be challenged. In the end, I’m just some talking Bear. I’ve been right about some things and wrong about others, and sometimes right, but at the wrong time, or in the wrong way. The things I’ve tended to go on about, like demographics and information and the Liturgy of the Hours, I still think I got right.

      And Pope Videos. They’re like ponies. A Bear has good intentions, but some temptations you just can’t resist.

    2. "I’ve been right about some things and wrong about others." In this regard you are very much like my wife. When you agree with me you are right and you are wrong when you don't agree with me.

      Seriously though, I don't believe you will stop thinking about life. I suspect that you want to look at life through Catholic eyes and that is good. It is no sin to write and share your thoughts on any number of subjects as seen through Catholic eyes. That's what people like about your blog.
      We both know that THE most important thing in our life is to become a Saint and join Christ in the afterlife. Anything that hinders that goal for us or others brings most of us distress. That's why PF subjects tend to have legs.
      Don't be discouraged. Soldier on to the end.
      I hope your physical discomfort has lessened. You'll be in my prayers tonight.

      John F. Kennedy

    3. Very few bears get fan mail from JFK.

    4. Bear does appreciate it. It is unpleasant to have to take a position against all the friends he has made by taking the opposite position. In thinking back on his life, though, he believes that when he has changed his mind, the position taken by Older Bear is usually wiser than Younger Bear’s.

  2. You are right, context context context! My daughter returned from her trip to Israel with her view of politics and world almost reversed. She explained her reasoning and it makes sense to me. She has researched and come up with some even more "crazy" things that make me question what the heck we were taught in schools. But why would you not identify yourself as "Christian"? or do you bristle at that and just say you are "Catholic" (that's me)
    So Bear, I just want to say that I have become a better person from reading your thoughts and thank you.

    1. If that’s true, then a Bear has done a good thing. And I agree about the identification, but understand it, even though only the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox allow Bears. Bear sometimes calls himself “Christian,” but prefers to identify as “Bear” because he is a really awful Christian.

    2. Wait. Bear understands. He was unclear. It is not that he insists on being called “Catholic.” It is that he is not going to define his religious beliefs - Christian - by his opposition to Pope Francis. Nor has this blog ever really been defined by that, although there has been a lot of Bearish roaring and clowning in the act.

      So, sorry, Nancy, for the confusion. He does not bristle at being called “Christian.” He is a bit embarrassed at the false advertising, though.

  3. Hey, Bear didn’t ask, but thank you if you have “commented” through PayPal. A poor Bear still has to eat, even if his new act is getting some boos. He’s still, like, you, know, a talking Bear, which is sort of... something.

  4. As the great Stephen Brady and his attorney Jim Bendel used to say, you can't just blog. Well, that's not what they said - newspapers were still the big thing. What they said is that you have to do a three pronged approach all at once, when exposing evil, error, crime. They said that you have to inform the public (press), the police, and the Church all at the same time so that nobody can start a coverup or game the system. In today's terms, it means that Catholic bloggers keep doing what they do ("the press" part), but they also provide ways to do something about it (practical steps both with and for the Church [the "police" part]) and ways for the faithful to protect themselves (spiritual and psychological), and positive catechesis and points for evangelization so that the readers can carry the fight in a positive way.

    1. My response is that I see a lot arguments by analogy and think they all completely avoid the reality of the phenomenon while providing a false but satisfying narrative.

      The truth is, Catholic bloggers bear no relation to a free press exposing crime and corruption so they can be punished by police and corrected by the democratic process. That’s because the Church and secular society could not be more different by design. Also, these are rarely hidden things that plucky investigative bloggers are “exposing.” They’re done in full view by people in authority. No, we see it, we just don’t like it. Any of it. So let’s call it what it is: opposition.

      What we really have is an umbrella network of various Catholic opinions united mainly by opposition to the Pope, even the Church. We can use information in new ways to make this possible. Unfortunately, this has a price you can see every day on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere else. We are more polarized and angry. The medium is still the message. I understand that people are seeing things they don’t like, but still think it is unwise to inject this poison into our religion,too.

      Given that this opposition is now a permanent feature, it seems sensible to discuss the implications of that.

      The opposition is coming at it from the problem side. I am coming at it from the response side. It makes sense to me to examine the implications of this new permanent opposition party.

      And if it is really just a never-ending conversation among people already convinced of the same thing, which I am pretty sure it is, that sounds useless at best, and unhealthy at worst.

      Also, the unexamined shift from the concept of the Church as identity/authority to a collection of right beliefs seems very significant to me, especially given historical precedent.

      Bloggers can’t change things in Rome, but they can easily change their understanding of and relationship to the Church. And they can contribute to the current crisis by discouraging and confusing Catholics, an unknown number who will simply walk out. The problem is, bloggers are applying American traditions of public dissent the Church never contemplated. There’s a fundamental disconnect between the problem and the blogger response.

      Most importantly, I view outrage as a drug. Like a lot of drugs, it can be beneficial in the right dose and for a short course of treatment. It also has the potential for recreational use and addiction, and the establishment of a market for it.

    2. The Church of Pope Francis is not the Catholic Church. I see it as in the era of Pope Francis as a Communist political enterprise using religion as a cover, somewhat like Islam in a sense. Pope Francis message is that the Catholic religion of history is now past. We are in the New World Order whereby Man is responsible for a better world. To me the real locus of the true Christian religion is now Russian Orthodox.

      Accordingly, in this milieu blogging has an important role in effecting change. We can see it already has whenever Pope Francis denigrates rigid Catholics.

    3. Mike, are you saying you’re leaving the Church and becoming Orthodox? That’s exactly the kind of change I’m worried about. You might want to re-read the Bear’s mini-series about that.

    4. P.S. Orthodoxy is exactly what I mean about religion defined as a collection of right beliefs, set up in opposition to the Catholic Church, which is religion defined by institutional identity/authority.

      And that’s the whole problem. What happens when people become convinced there is a rupture between authority and orthodoxy? It’s easy to answer that’s a problem we were never meant to have to deal with. I think there are better solutions. I should probably share them, although I agree it is very annoying of God to put us in this whole mess, which the Church promised we would always be spared.

    5. Tim--Thanks for your reply.. I am not leaving the Catholic Church. I referred to the "Church of Pope Francis" is not the Catholic Church in my mind. And I added I thought the Orthodox Church was better than the --- St Francis Catholic Church. Like you Bear, I'm sticking. Hopefully, things will get better. If not, well, that's a thought for another day.

    6. I agree that everything should be done out of communion and love, not as opposition to the Church. However, people in blogdom tend not to realize that most Catholics simply do not know the faith at all, and are being taught grave error and have no defense against it. Also, I think it is very important to publicize sex abuse in the clergy, because that is the only way to protect other children. You are correct that many people who read all the "bad news blogs", without a grounding in the faith, will get discouraged and be tempted to walk out. The answer is to give the grounding. I have seen people on both "sides" of current disputes go off the rails solely because of faulty understandings of the nature of the magisterium. On another note, I have not seen any blogs against the Church. Perhaps I self-select, as a theologian, those that are faithful and balanced, like yours. The only mean-spirited ones I have seen come from those who deny traditional Catholicism in some way. However, right belief does not a good Catholic make. The devil is quite orthodox, as St. Paul said.

    7. What I said in short form: bloggers should not just inform, they should give some context and positive catechesis. If giving an opinion, they need to evaluate how it is perceived by people who do not share their perspective. Otherwise, one can give scandal.

    8. I think there is much wisdom in what you say. Bloggers, especially, need to continually re-evaluate their own prejudices. But “mean-spirited” is in the eye of the beholder. Is the Bear mean-spirited in his famous agitprop and satire? If the answer is, “no, because they have it coming,” I’m not sure that’s helpful. The linked article in the most recent post talks about the “self-selection” you validly mention.

      I would ask how can we say no one is attacking the Church, though, when we can’t agree what the Church is. I routinely read comments like, “the Church in Rome is not the real Church and Francis is not the Pope.” It’s really only the SSPX [sic].. It’s really only what existed up through Pius XII. Sure, no one is attacking the Church if one excludes the pope, the bishops, the last council, etc. But, all that is the Church for the Bear and the vast majority of other Catholics - identity/authority as constituted in the world, not a collection of right beliefs, which is Orthodoxy.

      That those might ever be separated is beyond the Bear’s power to explain, but it often seems so. The Bear thinks people confuse his disagreement about the best response with agreement with everything that is going on.

      I freely admit to a greater pragmatism than many Catholics would find acceptable. Bears are flexible that way. I have a copy of the CCC and a Bible and a regular “novus ordo” parish and figure if that’s not good enough, oh, well. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer chances.

  5. Hi there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does building a well-established website like yours require a massive amount
    work? I'm brand new to writing a blog but I do write in my
    journal on a daily basis. I'd like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring
    bloggers. Thankyou!


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