Today, long time Catholic blogger Ellyn von Huben responds to the recent Washington Post article entitled, "Catholic Bloggers aim to purge dissenters." Read what she has to say here.
I may well be the thousandth blogger to be riled up by the Washington Post article “Catholic bloggers aim to purge dissenters.” Having been blogging as a Catholic mom/homeschooler, etc. since 2002, I think I possess enough experience as writer and voracious blog reader to allow me to weigh in.
The author, Rachel Zoll, certainly tried for the money quote by using the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen making reference to a “Taliban Catholicism.” Despite the fact that I have been known to refer to his paper as the National Catholic Distorter (rather than this article’s use of Destroyer), John Allen is usually quite the well-modulated writer, and Zoll would have done well to quote a bit more of some of Allen’s comments such as, “On the one extreme lies what my friend and colleague George Weigel correctly terms 'Catholicism Lite,' meaning a watered-down, sold-out form of secularized religiosity, Catholic in name only. On the other is what I call 'Taliban Catholicism,' meaning a distorted, angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the TV sets of the modern world."
The ease with which any person with internet access can establish a blog - maybe the greatest thing since the hectograph my parents gave to publish a neighborhood newspaper in fifth grade - allows for communication and evangelization in absolutely marvelous ways. Thoughts I had previously only ranted to my family or on occasion had published in the Chicago Tribune’s Letters to the Editor could now be shared with the world. And I found a world of online friends whose words I was enriched by reading.
For the average amateur blogger this marvelous opportunity becomes a combination of an annual Christmas Letter writ large, a conduit for sharing, and portal into a virtual community that knows no bounds.
Those of us who have something to share in regard to our faith or questions as to the state of our local Church should not hide our light under a bushel, so to speak. Some people may have more of an agenda than others and some may possess a more strident style of communication than prudence calls for.. But this does not, for those of us ‘small-o’ orthodox bloggers, constitute a concerted witch hunt style effort to purge the Church of dissenters.
Though...this does give us a chance to push back against our more obnoxiously vociferous brothers and sisters who have hijacked the name ‘Catholic’ (no copyright; no trademark;) for their own irregular causes. For example, the quisling Frances Kissling and her Catholics for a Free Choice (now known as Catholics for Choice) receives an unfair amount of recognition and therefore an inappropriately projected degree of authority. Now the rest of us can find hope in the ease that Blogger or WordPress gives the small, unfunded, faithful Catholic a chance to speak the truth.
This phenomenon is not limited to matters of religion. The blogosphere has created a new community of support and instruction (and, yes, correction, both charitable or shrill) to groups as far ranging as mommy bloggers, homeschool bloggers, sports bloggers, geek bloggers and yes, priest bloggers and nun bloggers.. The evangelical zeal with which Catholics share their opinions and knowledge ratchets it all up a notch since so much more is at stake.
Good intentions do not substitute for truth. For those who enjoy availing themselves of the bounty of the Catholic blogosphere, there is much good to be found. And many of the bloggers do a great service in helping to build up a strong, orthodox Church. But a little bit of that old journalists’ adage should be kept in mind: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Just because it is on the internet (and it may look quite polished) does not mean it is correct or even close to the orbit of truth.
Remember the petulant Mrs. Kissling? Catholics for Choice has a website that looks reputable. So does Rent-a-Priest and the Women’s Ordination Conference. Of course, Pope Michael of the Vatican in Exile (in Kansas - quite an exile!) has a slick web presence representing just one arm of the sedevacantist contingent. So the same prudent discernment that one would use when approaching printed material should be kept in mind. (If only the Vatican would start their own ecclesial version of Snopes.com, as an easy clearing house sorting out the true from the false.)
But there are also faithful bloggers of charity and good will, who are out there trying build up the body of Christ. There has been a diminution in catechesis and a general weakening in Catholic life - Catholic bloggers are not on the warpath to find and excoriate dissenters, whether lay or clergy. Most of us are just faithful Catholics who have found our voice and realize the blessing that the electronic age brings to our responsibility to build up our Church.
Ellyn von Huben is full-time mother of 6 and a regular contributor to the Word on Fire Blog.