"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Reviewing the blog


I was going through the archives this morning - which takes so much time.  I began blogging in February of 2006.  I wrote a lot of unnecessary stuff, revealed too much about myself - and documented too many careless observations about others, as well as a whole lot of worthless chatter.   I need to figure out how to start at the beginning and delete the worthless material.  Some of my writing I want to keep, my children's stories and some of the memoir stuff - the rest can be trashed - how to do it though?  I have to get my life in order.  I keep saying that - but I really do need to start cleaning things up.

I came across an interesting post on Rod Dreher, the convert to Catholicism who left the Catholic Church for the Orthodox.  The most interesting part of the story - for me - is the summation by a New Advent writer on what went wrong:
Journalist Rod Dreher details his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy here. I'm not going to dwell on this too much, but I want to make four points:

First, take it as a personal warning.
Rod candidly admits that his devotion to Christ was eclipsed by golden calves of his own making. These include:
  • All-consuming anger -- "I became so tormented over what had happened to those children at the hands of the Catholic clergy and hierarchy that I could see nothing else but pursuing justice. And my own pursuit of justice allowed me to turn wrath into an idol. I didn't know I was doing this at the time. . . . That is something that could happen to anybody, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or what have you. Be warned."
  • Politicized faith -- "I can look back also and see that my own intellectual pride helped me build a weak foundation for my faith. When I converted to Catholicism in 1992 . . . it was a sincere Christian conversion. But I also took on as my own all the cultural and intellectual trappings of the American Catholic right."
  • Churchcraft as a hobby -- "I had become the sort of Catholic who thought preoccupying himself with Church controversies and Church politics was the same thing as preoccupying himself with Christ. Me and my friends would go on for hours and hours about what was wrong with the Church, and everything we had to say was true. But if you keep on like that, it will have its effect."
  • Clericalism -- "Without quite realizing what was happening, I became a Professional Catholic, and got so caught up in identifying with the various controversies in the American church that I began to substitute that for an authentic spirituality. This is nobody's fault but my own. Part of that involved hero-worshipping Pope John Paul II, and despite having a healthy awareness of the sins and failings of various bishops, exaggerating the virtues of bishops my side deemed 'orthodox.'"
Don't think you're personally immune from errors like these.  You're not, and I'm not.  (Read Matthew 24:22.)
I posted about it at the time - as if it was any of my business.  Since that time a few more bloggers have left the Catholic Church for another Church - or church.  Some have just walked away from religion entirely.  I don't read Dreher very often, but I think the same dynamics may be at work in what he writes today, as well as for many others online.

Of the four errors listed, I think "churchcraft as a hobby" or even "churchcraft as a job" is probably the most common fault - especially amongst lowly no-name bloggers.


  1. +JMJ+

    Last week, I did something I thought I'd never do: I rewrote an old blog post because I no longer believed in what I had originally written, and didn't include a note that I had made edits. I'll probably go back after posting this comment to do just that, but I still feel like I've done something George Orwell would despise me for. "Don't you want an honest record of your past, Enbrethiliel?" No longer as much as I want to reduce the risk of leading people astray.

    Just this evening, I met a friend for dinner. She teased me about a bigoted book I had pressed her to read many years ago. Flustered to have had that come up out of the blue, I said, "I wouldn't say the book itself was out to bash ____s, but yes, the author was anti-____." Having thought about it since then, I wish I had had the grace to say, "I didn't realise how bigoted the author was when I first read it. I have not recommended the book since and never will again. I wish I could go back in time and stop myself from giving you a copy."

    As for "churchcraft as a hobby" . . . I was amazed at how badly my practice floundered after I retired my Catholic blog. That was the only change I made. I suspect I'm not the only Catholic who needed a near-constant "high" off the Internet in order to be devout. Perhaps I shouldn't stop at editing, but should actually delete some old posts, the way I threw away an old divination book that used to be my Bible.

  2. I think the surest way to test (or lose) your Catholic faith is to read a whole bunch of "Catholic" blogs. I read almost zero now and I feel much better. (Of course, Abbey-Roads was a keeper.)

  3. I don't read too many Catholic blogs. I couldn't do without the Poodle PSA's though. There have been blogs that were helpful for a time and others that I find divisive.. Because I don't know anything, I try to be careful about what I read.

  4. Wow. That was a very interesting list. Now if someone could turn that into an examination of conscience.

  5. Ah...sometimes I miss blogging for the outlet it provided for me to share reflections and revelations. But I think it had become too much of a sin of pride for me. I liked the accolades too much. And I allowed some of the more toxic bloggers to draw me into their cesspool too many times. Now that I don't blog anymore I am much less likely to read and react to the more toxic stuff. I do enjoy your blog Terry for its originality humor and humility. I hope you never stop. As for me I think it's better to spend more time praying and less talking about myself and pointing out the faults of others. Sometimes I think of how much more powerful my prayers could be if I could just let go of all the trappings that blogging seems to fuel.

    Diane I agree with you about this list as an examination of conscience.

  6. Lots of good comments above. It seems to me your old posts are more likely to be an opportunity for grace than a source of scandal. I always find it a grace when I'm reminded of my spiritual condition from 2-3 years back--thank God for steady progress! There are probably people out there struggling with SSA who find your blog and comb through past entries. They probably want something a little more raw and personal--they probably can relate to it better. Some bad willed people may read old entires to find a pretext to be scandalized, but there's nothing to be done about that.

    Plaster saints aren't edifying, and too much of professional Catholic media is overly sanitized, safe and "packaged". It reminds me of those online education ads for Protestant ministry: the clean-cut white male secure in his righteousness, a pillar of the community. Real saints are wacky and sui generis--even sweet nuns like St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. One of the fun things about early EWTN was that you never knew what Mother Angelica might say next or when Sister Briege would come up with some new tale of a miracle. Keep the raw stuff, Terry, and add a disclaimer if you must.

  7. Yes indeed - lots of good comments above. Now what should I do? Haha! .

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