Monday, 16 March 2009

On blogs and blogmen

Recently, I have noticed an increase in sweeping and generalised criticism of Catholic blogs. Words such as "savage", "spiteful", and "vindictive" are used, sometimes by those who do not read blogs themselves, rather akin to the attitude related a couple of years ago by one of my girl altar servers who said "My mum's a bit frightened of the internet."

I suppose that we should get accustomed to being lumped together in the same way as the traditional media and blamed collectively for various ills. Nevertheless, the internet does provide us with the opportunity to overcome some of the constraints of the traditional media.

Hilliare Belloc's fascinating essay "The Free Press", written in 1918 complains of the "capitalist press" and its shortcomings and looks at the disadvantages face by the free press - particularly their suffering from a lack of information, and the economic pressure if they did not manage to generate enough advertising revenue.

The blogosphere largely overcomes these two inhibiting factors to the free press. Information is available as never before, and since most bloggers do not give up the day job, there is little financial constraint. As a result, some very fine writers can publish to a large audience, offering excellent content and opinion pieces free of charge, for the love of God. To take one justly celebrated example, look at the wealth of information, free music, intelligent discussion and responsible reporting that is provided at the New Liturgical Movement blog, gathering as it does a first-rate team of writers who take a responsible and mature attitude to internet publishing.

We should not be over-sensitive. If you write stuff on the internet, you will get nasty, vindictive etc. etc. comments from time to time. Most Catholic blogs are careful to screen these out as far as possible. Nor should we take ourselves too seriously - the cultural differences that exist mean that sometimes our humorous comments are misunderstood, but bloggers are generally speaking able to take a joke.

Nevertheless, I think it is worth making the point that there are many good Catholics out there blogging away in their pyjamas because they love the Church, they love the Holy Father and they want to help bring the message of Christ to others. If Catholic blogs are going to be discussed seriously, it is reasonable to note the generosity and service that is given by many writers who have no other motivation than to help bring in the Kingdom.
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