Saturday, 18 April 2009

Some reflections on blogging...

Since I have now been blogging for a year, I thought I'd add a few reflections on the subject (consider this a bit of a mea culpa!).

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...


Secular Heretic said...

I think blogs are great. For myself I get so frustrated with secular news papers representing the church and its teachings in a misleading way. Blogs are a way of correcting this.

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time understanding why you (and others) have difficulty with the three-year Sunday cycle (and, by presumption, the two-year weekday cycle).

I've looked at online Ordos for the TLM, and there is so much repitition, not just from year to year, but sometimes even within the same week (a week with a lot of Ferial days). I don't see how chanting/reciting/mumbling the same readings day after day help the faithful grow in their faith; all it does is drill the same ideas day after day after day. And isn't that what Vatican II wanted us to get away from? To treat the faithful like adults who want to be nourished and learn more about our faith, rather than children who need to be drilled in repitition, but not learn anything more, reserving the deeper theology to academicians and the clergy?

No wonder that, during a TLM, people do a lot of other things than pay attention to what goes on at the altar. Prayers are good, but why should one be praying the rosary while the Mass is going on? Just look at the Eastern rites - the Divine Liturgy is said out loud (except for a few prayers) and the people respond. And it's hard to say that the Divine Liturgy is any less reverent than the TLM?

The quick Masses that occurred in days past are a prime example of how liturgical awareness suffered tremendously. 12 minutes for a Mass?!? That's just a crazy. There's a book called "Why Catholics Can't Sing" (forget the author) where the author told the story of - as a child - going to Mass with his family one Sunday and - upon hearing the announcement that this Mass was to be a High Mass (it normally was not), the author's family ran out in a near-panic, as did other families. Isn't that a problem - and this was under the EF?!?

I believe the biggest issue most people have with the NO is that everything happened too quickly - which, in turn, led to too much experimentation. If you start with Pope Pius XII's Holy Week reforms in 1955 and end with the 1970 Missal, the entire liturgy was changed around in 15 years - which, historically, is lightning-fast. That's perhaps why Pope Benedict is moving gradually and not just outright decreeing/banning/overturning.

Terra said...

Anon - I usually reject comments without a moniker, I've let this through given its length and importance, but please, give yourself an identity in future!

On twelve minute masses - I've been to a few fifteen minute masses lately and they were novus ordo. And the norm at my local parish on Sunday for a said mass is twenty minutes (including sermon). Pretty hard to be reverent in that time! So I don't think the problem on length of mass is EF v OF! Nor do I thnk such masses were the norm in the fifties - just an occasional abuse which needed to be fixed, but could have been wiht a rather less drastic solution than dumping the whole mass.

The whole repetition issue is interesting. Our culture constantly promotes the search for novelty. And the consequence of that tends to be superficiality in my view!

If one reads the Fathers, you will see that they spent endless amounts of time attempting to penetrate ever deeper into the meaning of quite small passages of Scripture. That's what I think the repetition of the traditional mass lectionary promotes. Each time we hear and meditate on a text, some new dimension of it can occur to us or be preached about.

But also, there are some key messages bear reptition! It is a reflection of human nature that we do need to be constantly reminded of some things.

The biggest problem with the new lectionary in my view is that it leads to a disconnection between the readings and the rest of the 'propers' (the entrance antiphon etc). In the traditional mass, these are all integrated and relate to each other. In the new mass, they are often completely unrelated, the reason why one rarely hears them said properly (the entrance antiphon when not sung tends to be desultory, muttered at different times by those wiht a book, and ignored by those without one.

I'd also note that the mass isn't the only opportunity for people to read or hear Scripture, nor should it be. The mass is not in my view primarily meant to be an instruction session in theology, it is meant to be worship.

And the consequence of the more 'adult' approach you suggest has not been an increase in knowledge on the part of the laity, quite the contrary!

I don't think it is true that people at a TLM don't pay attention to what is happening at the altar - I suggest you visit your local EF community where you will see most people following everything closely, using their their missal and the cues provided by the priest and server. Nor is the Eastern analogy a good one since the central action takes place behind closed doors!

I think it is a little ironic that you quote from Why Catholics Can't Sing - because the author's main message is about the need for reverence and solemnity which comes more readily to the EF as the author acknowledges. And the problematic aspects of the Irish cultural heritage which he discusses have continued in the OF in Australia as Paul Collins pointed out in one of his books some years back (before he went completely offbeam).

I agree though that the changes to the liturgy were managed very badly indeed. But I suspect even the best change management process in the world wouldn't have saved them.

Louise said...

I will say that the best thing about the OF is the lectionary. Perhaps it could be organised better, but the best way to learn scripture, imo, is hearing it in the vernacular at Mass.

Louise said...

As for blogs - the journos hate them. Too democratic, I suppose. I agree with secular heretic on this point.