Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Lenten reflection on blogging

Blogging is a recent and rather strange phenomenon. I do not think it too much to assert that it is revolutionary. As with all such assertions, the revolution represented by the so-called blogosphere can be exaggerated and underrated. As far as I can tell, blogging makes one something of an editorialist, or a pundit. The truth be told, there are a lot of bloggers who are better informed and who have thought through issues and who subsequently have better informed and more intelligent takes than the oppressive punditocracy whose rise has been facilitated by the 24 hour news cycle. Conversely, there are bloggers whose viewpoints are not only very narrow, but rigid and fixed. Being human, we tend to gravitate toward those blogs that seem amenable to us up-front and we tend to stay there. Sadly, this often results in a bunker mentality, seeing things as us vs. them.

The blogosphere has its unique sections and sub-sections. For example, there is the Catholic blogosphere, which consists of blogs and bloggers with very wide-ranging, even divergent viewpoints. Even within the Catholic blogosphere, there are what might be called communities. I mean no one could fail to notice that I belong to a rather tightly knit and small community of Communion & Liberation bloggers. While I do not think you could confuse any of us for another of us, we do have a common starting point, a more particular one than being Catholics, namely our sharing in the charism of Msgr. Luigi Giussani.

One comes to share in the charism of Don Giussani by following the method he laid out in his writings and talks. An important part of that method is the necessity of starting from a positive hypothesis. This does not mean never being critical, but it does set forth the manner in which critical opinions are expressed. In other words, as Christians, how we say something is as important, sometimes it is more important, than what we say. For example, in the post preceding this one I took a very critical view of President Obama's decision to allow government funding for research involving embryonic stem cells. One further implication of this touches on in vitro fertilization. Most often it is from in vitro fertilization procedures that embryonic stem cells used in research come into being. So, in a way, as with President Bush's decision to continue to permit government funding for embryonic stem cell research on lines that existed prior to his decision, President Obama is trying to be pragmatically moral. So, I do not fault the president at level of intention. As with most of the people most of the time, his intentions are good, but no matter how well-intended an action or a decision, intention can never be the determining factor in the morality of an act.

What is the point of all of this? Besides the fact that it seems necessary for me every six months or so to post something that serves as a catharsis, as a reflection on why I blog, I want my blogging efforts to make a positive contribution in the small sphere in which it is read. I do not want to be divisive, or unnecessarily critical. I do want to tell the truth as I understand it. That last part, as I understand it, is crucial. I do not claim to be the infallible arbiter of truth. I can point to several things on which readers and/or subsequent research have served to correct me. I am happy to be corrected when I am wrong or missing something crucial. I am always happy to be engaged in discussions on the topics about which I write. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read what I write, to comment on what I write, and to correct me when I need it. While I certainly want to challenge both myself and those who read my blog, especially in areas that I see as being far too little understood, I do not want to become overly didactic, though I am afraid being a bit didactic is just part of who I am. Even when I am writing on matters of morality, I strive not to be condemnatory, but reasonable. I am committed to helping people see that Christian faith requires thinking and acting in ways that are often difficult. Engaging difficulties is the only way we can change, which is the meaning of the word conversion. It is by straight-forwardly engaging those areas we find difficult that we cooperate with God's grace, that we love God with all our "heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength" (Mark 12:30). It is my desire to seek to be informative, challenging, and encouraging. I think of the statement at the top of my blog as a supervening caveat for everything I write. As Red Green says, "We're all in this together."

1 comment:

  1. The Ironic CatholicMarch 11, 2009 at 9:00 PM

    Amen.

    And I'm glad to be a "mascot of CL" blogger!

    ReplyDelete