A few thoughts on blogging.
Alright folks, time for one of my Big Mama Lichens moments:
Friends, I am Michael Lichens. I write and I edit. Catholic media has been a gift for me in that I get to do what I love and pay most of my bills. However, I would have nothing to do with it if it weren’t for my love of the Church.
Now, there are rumblings on the blogospere right now. In many ways, I don’t want to step in because I am aware I’ve started my share of flame wars and also because any attempt at dialog makes me sound like a mother who is tired of hearing her kids argue.
I won’t get into specifics. If you read past the first paragraph then you already know what I’m talking about. However, so many blogs seem to be like what my friend Kevin Tierney describes as tribal warfare. All among Catholic. Not just Catholics, but what might be called “conservative” Catholics who love the faith and try their best to heed all the teachings and proclamations of our Holy Mother Church. Yet, they act like someone has come in and stolen their jelly beans.
Let’s make it clear: we are judged by how we love one another. Really. No Kidding. Is it love to call people out and then insult their masculinity? Or to assume that they are some kind of secret liberal because they didn’t vote for your favourite statesmen? Perhaps some think it’s love to tell authors to kill themselves or to find some way of insulting their station (whether it’s single, celibate, married, gay, whatever).
Not just no, but frak no.
Don’t get me wrong, I hold some positions that are controversial. I’m anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-torture, pro-doctors, pro-vaccines, and love to eat gluten even though I’m trying to avoid it. Never did it occur to me that someone is a bad person for being in disagreement with me. Wrong? Yeah, maybe even a tad naive.
I wasn’t always this way. I used to pick fights and start little wars all the time. If you search this blog hard enough, you can see where I’ve been downright insulting. But I grew up, and that’s what I’m calling us all to do. Ladies and gents of the Catholic blogging world: It’s time to grow up.
Also, a wise priest chided me. He told me something that made me realize how ineffective anger is. He also asked me, when I was in the midst of a flame war, “Suppose your non-Catholic friends come over and saw you calling that guy an a-hole? Would they think that this religion held the truth?”
As Catholics we’re not called to merely write clever lines about the news and hold our fundraisers. These are not bad, but if we don’t help people to see the truth, beauty, and love in our faith, then just what in the-literal-hell are we doing?
So, what I’d like to offer is a challenge. From here on in, before you write about another person, try to remember that they are a person with pain, suffering, and struggles. Perhaps what they need is less arguing and someone to take them out to coffee and listen to them. If you can’t write anything without turning it into a scene from Glengarry Glen Ross then it’s probably time to take a breather and go play with your kids or say a rosary.
Oh, and don’t compare yourself with St. Catherine of Siena or St. Jerome. You are not them. Trust me. St. Catherine cleaned the wounds of lepers and those afflicted with disease and felt a call to such compassion that she drank the water she used to clean them. St Jerome lived in a cave and did great work for the Church. They didn’t make their whole career at taking potshots at people; and that is why they’re remembered.
I have read the biographies of many saints and have been to many chapels. I have yet to see a celebration to someone whose job was to be angry on the internet. If you aspire to be St. Catherine or St. Jerome, awesome! Just know that you have a lot more work to do than just being cranky.
I still love what I do, but let’s try to remember what we are called to be. No matter how well I write, I have a feeling that when I’m before the judgement seat of Christ he isn’t going to ask me how many flame wars I started or how many debates I’ve won. Rather, he’s probably wondering how many widows I comforted, how many hungry I fed, and how I showed love to the people who needed it most.
That is all. I’m out.
*drops the mic*