Sunday, May 24, 2015

The shadow church

Some civil libertarians fear a shadow government. Catholics have a shadow church: lay Catholic apologists who assume the Magisterial role of doctrinal gatekeepers and theological police:
The blogosphere as it functions in Catholicism today is an adversarial system.  It’s a mirror of our polarized Church and polarized culture, where you have the Optimates on one side, and the populares on the other; and those populares (whoever they may be) are vile, evil sick beings who must be destroyed.  Engaging in argument and debate is not for the enrichment of the Church as a whole, but for one group of Catholics to stomp out another, even (and especially!) if such discussions have nothing to do with orthodoxy or heresy.
They don’t exist to win converts, they exist to play to their bases and shore up support.  That every blog is not like this, and some blogs are great is irrelevant to the greater point that the problem is real.  Yet if the problem is real, individuals will often limit the problem to those people over there.  What is needed is a transformation of the blogosphere, and that will only happen once bloggers are willing to start calling out their allies for the same sins their foes commit.  So far, this is the exception, not the rule.
And I use their [Catholic Answers] resource as well. But they've also gone out on a limb a few times and had to walk it back because they were playing orthodoxy cop and headhunting other Catholics when they really had no reason to be. (The "Radical Traditionalism" Radio segment in 2013 that blew up in their faces is just one example.)
They thrive off the adversarial mindset, and that holds back what is otherwise a fine apostolate. When you don't have a bogeyman to kick around, you can't succeed, so you gotta dream up new bogeymen. I just think it's time to try a different approach, one less corrosive and less "us vs them" when the "them" is often faithful Catholics.

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