Friday, January 28, 2011

The comment box as mosh pit.

Let's not.
I once managed a Catholic book store for a religious goods company.  Most of the employees were very devout Catholics, leaning heavily towards the traditionalist side of things, and terribly opinionated.  Employment was rather fluid and many types would come and go.  Of course, the customer base was rather diverse as well, although the regulars were definitely uber-uber-Catholic.  These facts worked together in such a way that sometimes the store would suddenly erupt into a sort of battlefield.  I did my best to adjust sales associate's attitudes through customer service training and establishing store policy guidelines to help control the situation and establish boundaries.  In a couple of cases, I would no longer schedule an overly outspoken, antagonistic part-time sales associate.  In another case, I was able to arrange a department transfer for a particularly contentious person.  New hires were screened accordingly. 
By the time I left the business I had a good-looking, customer friendly crew, whose evangelization efforts were limited to serving the customer's needs in a friendly relaxed environment, while promoting the company's excellent Catholic product.  The sales staff knew enough about the books and devotional  items to help customers according to their needs.  My theory about Catholic bookstores is that if the product is solidly Catholic - the business is the apostolate - providing the product is their particular means of evangelization.  Not bullying and starting fights.
I mention my experience because the upshot of some of the fighting and arguing amongst employees, as well as with customers, including the hell and damnation preaching, actually drove good people away from the store.  Customers were uncomfortable shopping there - sometimes they were deeply offended, in other cases, they just didn't feel welcome.
I respect you.
Comment boxes on blogs can have the same effect on people.  I've been receiving a few emails from readers who are afraid to comment because of what other commenters might say - they just don't feel welcome.  I realize at times the comment box gets a little rough.  I understand that - I really do.  But many "normal" readers don't - and the printed word without vocal inflection or facial expression can read extremely offensive.  To be sure I believe the overly PC restraining tendencies focusing on the 'new' civility in language so we can "all just get along" and "agree to disagree" does little to nothing to arrest or correct error.  Nevertheless, in our discourse here we need to avoid getting too heavy handed with one another.
Therefore, what I've decided to do is to close comments on a particular post when and if things begin to get too wild.  In some cases I will delete a comment, although I will only delete comments that are mean-spirited or discriminatory - for instance, never write anything anti-Semitic - I might be Jewish.  Never insult another commenter.  Never use the "F" word or blaspheme, and so on.  (WTF is okay though.  LOL!) 
Thanks very much.

Art:  Dan Witz


  1. Terry - sometimes, your blog is like an online version of "The Office"...

  2. Terry, I had already come up with the idea to delete my comments before you posted this. I'm glad you did.

    However, I did want to apologize to Pablo for any attacks I made at him, or names I might have called him. The comments are closed there, though, so I'll apologize here and hope he sees it.


  3. My management style is a lot like Michael Scott's - especially since I instigate a lot of what goes on here.

    I probably should be the one apologizing.

  4. Terry

    Too true. All those people who will say nasty things to me deserve to be deleted... oh wait, I'm not a Cyberman.

    (Seriously, it is your blog, and you delete as you see fit, even my comments if they distract from the discussion you want)

  5. Well. I am sorry I missed the excitement. We will try to go easier on you! Nice little parable.
    I think the donnybrooks break out because you attract such a diverse audience. When the catechism loving Catholics start to see planned parenthood catholicism stacking the shelves here in the peanut gallery, we are wired to unravel the contortions. Everything Pablolo said was Catholic teaching but we all know that the reaction he received is what has happened to every priest who tried to teach it on this country and the bullying has silenced these teachings for a generation.

    This is why many of us now are fixed on silencing the silencers. It is a little like John the Baptist who cleared the path ahead of Christ. Well, I guess you could say its exactly like John the Baptist who cleared the path for
    Christ. We are not fit to fasten the sandals of the men who sacrifice themselves every week at Golgtha. For many years we have let our shepherds be imprisoned. That period is now in our past. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.


  6. "the reaction he received is what happened to every priest who tried to teach ..."

    Carol, why would you say such a thing? Have I ever indicated that I believe anything other than what the Church teaches? I'm confused as to how I ended up being one of the "planned parenthood Catholics" you hate so much.

    And for the record, I see very few people around here who encourage dissent from Mother Church.

  7. oh wait, I'm not a Cyberman.

    If you had said "exterminate", could we presume you were a Dalek? lol!

  8. I don't think any such thing about you Mercury. My comments were a general statement describing what parish life has become more than anything else.

    I saw what Pablo wrote and since there are no comments saying 'thank you for your courage, concerns about souls, for speaking the truth' etc, and Terry's post here, I presumed the teachings of the Church were not saluted and the comments that were deleted came from a can of whopass. If I am mistaken, I apologize for my inappropriate remarks.

    I did see your apology but for all I knew you were being humble and trying to generate a fraternal witness. I didn't make a judgment on any individual because I didn't get a chance to read the thread. I was guessing from my intuition and experience.

    I agree that there are very few people here who discourage the teachings and teachers of the Church. I don't have the stomach to hang around a place that does. That's why seldom you will see me around places that enable and encourage dissent and/or delete people who righteously respond to it.

    There are all kinds of ways to shine a light and each of us has a role according to our gifts. I see Terry as one who uses more of a gentle herding through witness. He seems to have remarkable judgment and wisdom.

    I rejected the teachings of the Church on contraception for a very long time. At the beginning of my conversion, I needed a place that was 100 percent reliable to hang around. There was more than one occasion when I got into a dust up with somebody who was faithful. I was not on the right side of the argument because I had been hoodwinked by unfaithful priests. We have our share of them here in Boston who will scandalize even in the Confessional. It is a bad scene. Nevertheless, I ginned up a few of my own scandals and will have to be relying upon Divine Mercy. I don't hate anybody, this is a battle of the principalities and powers. I owe my conversions to the people who stood in my face and said what needed to be said. If you don't have them around, there isn't much movement towards bringing our brothers and sisters into the light. It is a symbiosis that we all need to understand. See the bigger picture.

    I am in a different army than Terry. I have a different role. Like Fr. Z, I am firing up people who have already turned the corner in their conversions. Going out ahead of people who will be less intimidated to say what needs to be said. So that more people will be prepared to take their places in their parishes, on the internet and serve in their role in that symbiosis. We have a job to do in this time in the Church's history and in the history of our nation.

    Some people get caught up in the emotions of the person being fraternally corrected and circle the wagons to help them defend their honor and lick their wounds. Divest yourself of the emotions if you see yourself getting caught up in it. Stand back and take a look at the bigger picture. Know that something spiritual is going down and try not to see it as a battle of egos because it isn't.

    God Bless, Carol

  9. Holy Cow...what did I miss?!

  10. Carol, I was apologizing because I am the one who deleted those comments, which I posted because much of what was said was most certainly not catholic teaching in any way, unless you also consider the views of Richard Williamson to be authentic Catholic teaching. If you think Jews are conspiring to kill Christ at all times, that the Holocaust was fake, that women are good for nothing but being "barefoot and pregnant", that we should treat sinners like lepers, that the Novus Ordo Mass in itself teaches modernism, or any of the other things that are said from time to time, that's your business.

    I apologized and deleted my comments because I had insulted someone personally. I do not take back what I said regarding the comments.

  11. I have no way of making a judgment about what was said Mercury because I didn't see the thread.

    I see what Pablo said.

    There's a pretty good history of reacting with hysteria to these teachings.

    I see Terry's post.

    I see your apology.

    If your comments were not implying Pablo's evangelism of Catholic teaching was some kind of personal or spiritual flaw, I have no quibble.

    Perhaps I misunderstood what transpired and if I did, I apologize.

    One thing I can say with 100% certainty is that Pablo's proclamation of Church teaching in a Catholic forum should be embraced and anyone reacting with hysteria to them is not acting with the fruit of sanctifying grace.

    Whenever anyone reacts with hysteria to Church teaching and attacks the messenger, there is something going on spiritually with the person doing the attacking, not the person evangelizing.

    I assume we are of the same mind on this in communion with the Church.


  12. Carol, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about.

    If you really think that what was said is 100% in line with Church teaching, then I have no idea where you you are reading Church teaching.

    "There's a pretty good history of reacting with hysteria to these teachings."

    To what teachings, may I ask? the ones I mentioned in the previous comment? Please tell me where stuff like that is Church teaching, Carol. Please do tell.

  13. thanks for posting this, terry. i've read comments by some to the effect that adulterers should be treated as lepers. i have a sister who's estranged in the family because she's 10 years post-divorce & living in an adulterous relationship. how should the family continue to treat her? as a leper? no. i stay in touch with her, ensure she knows i still love her, while still standing for the teachings of the faith. the Holy Spirit has more instruments in His tool kit than me; it's not my job to convert her, but to love her. as you know, i lived in obstinate sin most of my adult life. the gay world mixed with drugs, et al. but through the love of my family who never condoned my behavior, but still allowed me to be at family functions and invited into their homes ... and their prayers and witness to the faith .... that is what our Lord used, i believe, to convert me when i was ready to receive His love, His teachings, His Truth. God bless you, terry, for continuing to mediate here and ensure that all who visit here are fed with Truth, and treated with dignity.

  14. Funny thing is ... how are Christians supposed to treat lepers?

  15. Mercury,

    I am talking about the list of teachings left in the comments section. I did not take his comments about the holocaust literally because I did not see the thread and I do not know the context. I took those comment*s as saying that the word halocaust has a religious context and the use of the word to human killing was offensive to him. I certanly didn't take those comments to mean he was conveying the Third Reich was a figment of people's imagination. I took it as a quirky word thing that was defensive about the divinity of Christ's sacrifice. If that was the direction of the conservation that was deleted, I misunderstood what happened and I apologize.

    I have no feelings about the word holocaust for human sacrifice and have even used it in conversation about the unborn, but I grant him the right to reserve it for divinity if that is what he chooses to do. I didn't see anything out of context with the Catholic religion in this reservation and so it didn't jump out at me, not having been privy to what was deleted.

  16. The words "phoney holocaust" were used.

    It's not just this time, and it's not just this issue. Some people have a tendency to take their personal opinions and elevate them to the level of Church teaching. That is not evangelization - it's bullying. And it can cause true spiritual and psychological harm.

    And when such rigorous nonsense is mixed in with the Truth, it can be more insidious than the laxist nonsense, because it reeks of piety. Just look at Bishop Willamson. Williamson is no less a danger than Mahoney, but in the opposite direction.

  17. There are temptations for those who want to excuse their sins, and there are temptations for those who sincerely want to try and be pious followers of Christ. Or does the devil only work one way?

    By the way, doughboy - you hit the nail on the head. God bless you.

  18. There is no rule of thumb on what our role is about people drowning in their sins and dragging others down with them. It depends upon the situation, doesn't it. It depends on what our role is in the relationship, It depends upon what role the sinner wants to take as to our response to it.

    If an alcoholic was holding meetings on the pride of being a drunk and he took the highest role in leadership at Alcoholics Anonymous, it would be our duty to respond to that situation.

    If he tried to get behind the wheel of a car we would try to stop him and call the police to stop him if we couldn't.

    Another time we may meet him homeless and in the streets, hungry and cold and we respond in a different way.

    We would treat a woman who has had an abortion and knows what happened and is in need of feeling redemption differently than we would respond to an unrepentant woman who had an abortion and is working at Gosnell's clinic.

    Navigating the waters is very tricky and there are an awful of people with poor judgment out there who have made a mess of this world with their missappropriation.

  19. Mercury,

    I have already explained to you that his use of the word phony to me was wordsmything to reserve the word holocaust to Divinity. It's not like that is unheard of. Lots of people get offended with the use of the term holocaust. If his opinion is the holocaust didn't take place, I was unaware of it. I am new here and I don't think the subject has ever come up. I am sorry to hear of it.

    Many people do think their personal opinions are Church teaching but most are either ignorant or think Church teaching can be trumped with personal convictions.

    Others think that mercy and redemption is be metered out to people who want to take leaderhip roles who are unrepentant. This is usually the context where I jump in because it is my bailiwick.

    This, one, is an obstacle to the person's conversion and two, opens up chiasm leading to hell that many people fall into along the way, three, offends God and finally, puts everyone in our empire closer to destruction.

    Our response to this situation is different from our response to a family member or colleague.

    I've worked in the South End of Boston, is a very liberal and gay area. I've worked there now for five years. Some of my liberal colleagues know where I am theologically. Some are gay. Some are fallen away Catholics. One colleague of mine in particular is both. He knows that I love him and in fact everyone knows that I love him. Our personalities are very similar. We talk occasionally about different things politically but the role of a colleague is not one of conversion. It is a witness.

    He's mad at the Catholic Church, has expressed it. I've tried to use situations with my own temptations to explain my respect and path to adherance and that is as far as it goes.

    Except for one time. Andrew Sullivan posted something talking about the need for Catholics who have left the Church to formally go through the canonical process of checking out. He came down to tell me about it. I could see he had a little wind in his sails. I said 'please don't do that, you never know where your heart is going to be at the hour of death and it might sneak up on you and you don't want this on your plate."

    And, that was it. No matter how much he disagrees and is hurt, he knew enough about my love for him to know where I was coming from. Maybe that is the only role my faith will ever play in that relationship.

    When we speak about other kinds of relationshps, powers, principalities, situations--we may be called to different responses depending on what that person is stepping forward to to and say and how that would affect the common good.

    if that makes sense...

  20. It does, carol. Good points.

  21. what the hell Terry?! You chased em all away from your blog and they come to roost at mine.

    I swear... are you as sick of blogging as I am?


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.