Sunday, January 31, 2010

Real Catholic... more Internet precautions.

Henry Karlson says it better than I could...
"There is something about the internet that people feel as if they get a following, they have become legitimate authorities and their voice is the voice of truth. While the internet does provide some good, because it allows the otherwise disenfranchised to speak, we must also remember why so many of these people are disenfranchised. They speak from their heart, it is true, but it is often a heart founded on ideology. This is true all over the net. Caution is important. I would even be the first to say this is true with what I write as much as what I find elsewhere — one should consider where I am coming from and determine how and why that means my own commentary and opinions are also incomplete and imperfect.
Of course, I think there are different standards of authority and intellectual acumen; I respect honest disagreement if it is shown to be based upon actual, reasonable engagement with the questions at hand. The problem is that so many who speak for Catholics on the net become virtual authorities; they come from an ideological background which tends to be rejected by the Church. More importantly, they lack the scholarly background, the study of diverse sources, to understand the full range of possible Catholic opinion: they think their “common sense” approach to the faith is the faith, just like Martin Luther did several centuries back. They do not understand what is “common” in the “common sense” tends to be cultural, and in the United States, that culture is of Protestant individualism. That this is the foundation by which many interpret and understand Catholic concerns is readily apparent when these same virtual authorities take on anyone, including the Vatican, with no respect for the real authority possessed by the ones they are criticizing." - Virtual Polemic...
Thanks Henry - you hit the nail on the head!
Photo:  The incorrupt body of Bl. John XXIII.


  1. +JMJ+

    Terry, I agree! As far as I can tell, that's the best way it has been put. =)

  2. I thought Pope John was embalmed?

  3. Dymphna - I'm not sure - the blog source for the photo disputes the incorrupt issue. Gratefully, incorruptibility is not considered in the canonization process.

  4. Dymphna - I found this on Wiki:

    Following his beatification, his body was moved from its original burial place in the grottoes below St Peter's Basilica to the Altar of St. Jerome and displayed for the veneration of the faithful. At the time, the body was observed to be extremely well-preserved—a condition which the Church ascribes to enbalming[9] and the lack of air flow in his sealed triple coffin rather than to a miracle. When John was moved, the original vault above the floor was removed. A new vault was built beneath the ground, and Pope John Paul II was later buried in this vault.

  5. This guy is spot on. I'm going to follow him.

  6. But seriously, I do agree with the central point. Though, it could be argued that the Cafeteria Catholic himself was not above having become something of his own authority and that being one above the Church based on his views regarding homosexuality which varied significantly from those of the Church.

    As for me? Knowing my own penchant for sin I must pray for a continued low following or a strength to resist such temptation and vanity.

  7. LeoRufus12:33 PM

    I find the author incongruous simply by fact of his being a contributor on one of the most polemical and left wing blogs in Catholic Blogland.

  8. +JMJ+

    Yet being incongruous and absolutely nailing an issue aren't mutually exclusive, are they?

    Word Verification: "whacki"! =D

  9. Henry Karlson12:43 PM


    Thank you for your support; yes, it is one of the problems I find about the net and the culture on the net today. Certain people, without real authority, are turned into authorities and real authorities, however imperfect they are, are ignored.

    A couple things. One, even if it were true, that would be guilt by association, which is again, a logical fallacy and does not deal with the points I make. Ok, let's say I'm a complete leftist (I'm not, nor is Vox Nova). But let's assume so. Now what? Does it make truth less of a truth if I say it? Second, as I pointed out, Vox Nova is not a "left wing" blog. It's a Catholic blog. Indeed, we eschew the American left/right divide and see how it is being used to counter Church teaching. We might disagree with others on how this is to be put out prudentially -- but dogmatically, we are firm adherents to Church teaching, all of it.

  10. LeoRufus12:52 PM

    Context matters in this case.

    "The problem is that so many who speak for Catholics on the net become virtual authorities; they come from an ideological background which tends to be rejected by the Church."

    Such is true of the blog he himself posts on- one could interpret his own post as an exercise in self-critique. However troubling is the next statement:

    "More importantly, they lack the scholarly background, the study of diverse sources, to understand the full range of possible Catholic opinion "

    (Did he just call everyone else stupid?)

    The blog I refer to is run by secular theology students with diverse backgrounds and academic skills who think their situation grants them license to pronounce on matters of concern to all Catholics - they would do well to heed these words themselves. In fact their writing should be subjected to peer review standards if they would wish to speak authoritatively rather than write such screed as the author has done critiquing those who do not share an interest in making a living as a theologian. By contributing to that blog the author in discussion gives his implicit assent to the more extreme and radical views posted by his associates.

  11. In response Henry: I have seen many posts on Vox Nova which condemn Republicans (very nasty critique which slaps at your fellow Catholics who are Republicans, divisive hate speech clothed as 'fraternal correction'), authors who promote the writings of marginalized theologians such as Leonardo Boff, "Catholic Anarchy", res ipsi loquitur, Vox Nova walks looks and quacks leftist.

    Also Vox Nova is not a "Catholic blog" since it does not speak under the aegis of any episcopal authority, if so then the bona fides should be evident to the readers, if not then it is a blog written by Catholics, something entirely different from being a "Catholic blog".

    Although much of what you write is good, it would do well to have a tete a tete with your colleagues about making their "Catholic blog" more meaningful to those who do not share their fascination with wild and wacky speculative theology as well as accepting comments that do not agree with their party line.

    My apologies to Terry and Henry, if you wish to "dialog" further, please feel free to drop a note in private.

  12. +JMJ+

    I'm just wondering: is the objection to the point encapsulated in the two paragraphs Terry has quoted here or to Henry Karlson's unfortunate online association with tax collectors and sinners?

  13. I admire Henry Karlson very much and have a great deal of respect for his opinion. I also have much respect for the contributors to Vox Nova.

  14. Leo wrote...(Did he just call everyone else stupid?) Yes, I believe he did.

    I'm offended!!!
    Even though I'm pulling up the rear in Catholic blogdom.
    (Somebody has to do it).

  15. Henry Karlson5:41 PM

    I don't want to get into a debate, but I do want to answer one charge.

    Did I call everyone stupid? Of course not. I only said something which is quite true: not everyone is well studied in the matters of the faith. That's all. That is not about stupidity, that is about education. Not everyone is required nor even expected to be a scholar. There is nothing wrong with not being one. But one must acknowledge such study gives someone an ability to discuss matters those who have not studied them cannot do.

    It's the same reason why you would go to a cancer specialist if you got cancer and not to your mechanic.

    Beyond that, though, it doesn't make me a better or smarter person just because I've been called to such studies. Nor have I ever claimed such.

  16. I had Catholic friends over for dinner a few hours ago and when they discussed Catholicism I realized that I had no business even having a Catholic blog..... I know squat.

  17. Henry Karlson2:51 AM


    Are you Catholic? Then you can have a Catholic blog in the sense of having a blog by a Catholic on which they reflect their lived experience of the faith. That is always an important thing to do.

  18. Henry asked, Am I Catholic?
    A little.

    A blog?
    kind of.

    The problem with my blog is that it's about feelings and feelings can be deceptive. The Catholic church has the truth not me.

    My life experience was that of pagans and protestants and they're full of crap. So naturally my blog is a hybrid of oddness.

    I wish I knew the kind of things that Leo and Terry know.

  19. Henry Karlson8:07 AM


    The point is that you can discuss your faith, your understand, your confusion, and do so humbly, hopefully to learn if people read and follow along. The issue I am raising are people who claim to be authorities to judge others who have no authority (scholarly or ecclesial). They truly cause all kinds of problems. But the average person with a blog is not doing that. It is good to talk and discuss one's faith, knowing the limitations of oneself; the problem is when people forget that. And even the most educated of us will always be limited.

  20. Belinda, you're way ahead of me; I went to CCD through second grade. After that? I was raised without religion.

    The charm of your blog? No need for a theology degree of any sort. And you're unpretentious. None of that "more Catholic than thou" stuff going on.

    Oddness can be helpful too.

  21. Henry and Nan your kind words embarrass me.
    I should have listened in on this conversation
    and kept quiet. I wasn't fishing for compliments
    I promise.

  22. I prayed before this altar with Blessed John XXIII. May he grant us unity in our Church; a unity we so sorely need! Amen.


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