I am a big fan of Heather King's blog, SHIRT OF FLAME. Heather's own description of herself is simple and candid: I'm an ex-barfly, ex-lawyer, Catholic convert with three memoirs ..." Heather comes from a place that few people survive and her writing reflects that. It's sometimes raw, sometimes sweet, but always thought-provoking.
The other day this post arrived in my email and this part of it stopped me in my tracks:
I don't read most Catholic blogs for the same reason I don't watch TV: because I find a culture of carping, snitching, and gossip inherently un-Christlike. As you know, I don't tend to weigh in on Church scandals (partly because I usually don't even know of them); global disasters; who, in the Catholic world or elsewhere, is doing or saying what.
I am anything but 'trending.'
953 comments from people with nothing better to do on a glorious spring day than sit in front of their computer screens and insult each other is not what I have ever been after. I am after, among other thing, shadows, random leaves on sidewalks, tarantulas, orchids, Etta James, The Queers (her brother's band), dinner parties, the long, slow death of my mother, and drunks.
I also quickly discerned what kind of comments I would host: those that reflect fellow feeling; fresh insights; a sense of humor (always welcome), or courteous, well thought-out dissension. I will not host comments that are insulting, rude, or doctrinally wrong. In a post that is clearly from goodwill and a searching heart, a commenter who zeroes in on a tangential, not-in-discussion point is doctrinally wrong, because Catholicism is not stupid. An insulting comment is doctrinally wrong because the doctrine of Christ is love. A comment that is rude, threatening and anonymous is doctrinally wrong because the doctrine of Christ is courage.
The reason this stopped me is because I have all but retreated from the television and while reading other Catholic blogs, I've been horrified at some of the comments. Images of some whack-job sitting in a basement frantically pounding the keys of a well-worn keyboard come to mind. I've been the target of such comments in my own Catholic blog comment box. The one that says, "May you vomit that Chic-full-of-hate-fil-a from your mouth," has always held a special place in my heart.
At the core of Heather's article is Fr. Roger Landry's article, "Pope Francis and the Reform of the Laity." Our new pope has just picked up the mirror and taken a good, long look. From someone who has seen the arrogance of laity and clergy, I have found this article a breath of much needed fresh air!
I've been concerned about my retreat from certain things, but Heather King's and Fr. Landry's articles gives me a new courage to keep a balance between my faith and the comment box.