Do consider taking up blogging!
Some time back Oriens published an article on why Catholics shouldn't blog. I'm not sure that it was entirely serious (not being a professional writer whose earnings are being undermined by bloggers, or being someone who has had problems with the League For Calumniating Women Who Were Seen To Wear Trousers For One Day In 1959!), but regardless I do strongly disagree with the sentiment!First, I think that blogs are an extremely powerful medium - so I'd like to encourage more people, particularly traditionally oriented Australians - to take it up (or contribute a guest post...)! Blogs are like newspapers - ways of spreading news and happenings of common interest to a particular group, and of generating a bit of discussion around issues that come up via posts. There are a few things over the last year that I think have changed at the margin at least as a result of this blog, or where I've felt I've contributed in a useful way to something happening. So if you have a cause, have a go!
And I have a personal reason for wanting more Australians to get in the loop. For some reason, relatively few blogs seem to be able to sustain a good conversation between several players (which is a shame because writers love feedback!) - forums seem to work better for that. They do work quite well though for debates between the blogger and one or two others - I'm quite enjoying my discussion with Alan A (I presume the author of the article in Eureka Street) on why Brisbane did or didn't have to happen for example. But they come into their own I think when several different blogs take a different spin on the same subject, and a little conversation gets going, or new information gets added.
And I will admit to flagging as a blogger at times. But the thing that gets me going again or keeps me going is the occasional comment, on or offline, from someone coming back to the Church; from someone isolated from the main traddie communities, but interested in traditionalism; or someone who actually puts the information I provide into concrete practice. That's what makes it all worthwhile!
Blogs are like a newspaper...
There are two main drawbacks to blogging though that are worth exploring a little.
The first is that a blog is like the opinion page in a newspaper, not a refereed journal - you write it generally speaking pretty quickly (I don't have that much free time to allocate to it, and fortunately it really doesn't take much time!), from a particular slant, and that can mean you occasionally get it wrong, or say some things that on further reflection would be better not said. I've certainly been guilty on both those counts, and while I'm really trying to be more careful, I very much appreciate those who provide comments politely drawing my attention to such issues!
On more technical issues, I generally try and stick with what I've been taught or what I've read elsewhere in credible places - but on occasion, I've subsequently realised that what I've been taught or find in my textbooks may not always be that reliable. Or I've written too quickly without checking back at my notes! But I comfort myself that some of the priest bloggers and semi-professional sites like Lifenews don't always get it entirely right either (not that that is a good excuse)...
In any case, I won't always change my mind or rewrite something, but I certainly have on occasion, and a blog has the virtue of making that easy to do. And because a blog is like a newspaper, the comments section is a little like a letter to the editor - so please, don't just fume or just dismiss what I've written, (politely) tell me that there is a problem or why you don't agree with the line I've taken. Or send me a note offline. And I'm particularly attentive to anything sent to me from priests.
Blogs get under people's skin
Just as the blog author writes a little too quickly on occasion, so too does the odd commenter!
Things certainly haven't ever been as bad on this blog as some of the others that traditionalists and liturgyniks frequent, but I do worry a little at times at the instinctive urge to snipe at each other rather than compliment good work. Constructive criticism is, in my view, a healthy thing (although not always well received by the target!), but gratuitous observations of a negative nature on one's fellow traditionalists are generally not going to make it past moderation here.
But in any case I was glad to receive an apology at Easter time for a couple of the ruder comments I've received over the last year, although I have to admit at times I've been entertained by some of the wilder comments (even as I've rejected them!). But I'd really rather I didn't have to reject comments, or receive personal attacks.
The blog stats are nice feedback - I love to see people coming from odd places, in Oz or outside (and by the way, what has happened to my Italian readers this week!? Hilary, Fr K - is that you, and where have you gone?!). All the same, comments are a much more direct than the blog stats!
Get it off your chest!
The great virtue of a blog though is that it provides a way of thinking through issues. Getting things off your chest that you would otherwise just continue to feel frustrated, angry or saddened by. A chance to share the things that you are praying over. And hopefully entertaining and informing a few others along the way....So do join me!
And in the meantime, please do pray for me, the best kind of feedback (positive or negative!) going...