Friday, November 09, 2007

Irish blogs

Of late Melancholicus has been hunting around for suitable Irish blogs to add to his blogroll — suitable meaning that such blogs are broadly aligned with the teachings of the holy Catholic Church, with social and political conservatism, and are of course published from Ireland, written by Irish authors, contain posts of general Irish interest, and last but by no means least, are a good read.

Such blogs are hard to find. Thus far, Melancholicus has not been particularly successful in his search. There are plenty of Irish bloggers out there fulsome in their praise of every facet of the liberal agenda, along with the morality of the new Ireland, and even marxism — but seemingly few that would be on the same side of the fence as Melancholicus. The only Irish blog in his list of friends and fellow travellers is that of Éamonn Gaines. We are starting to feel somewhat alone in the blogosphere. There is not even one Irish priest represented in Melancholicus’ list of clerical blogs; all his links refer to either British or American clergy. This is a situation somewhat in need of remedy, so imagine Melancholicus’ delight when, idly surfing the web late yesterday afternoon, he came across what purported to be a priest’s blog, and that of an Irish priest, no less. It is called Clerical Whispers. It is a substantial blog, with many posts, and a large number of news stories of interest to the Church at large. It is maintained by one “sotto voce”, who claims to be an “Irish RC priest”.

However, our initial enthusiasm upon discovering Clerical Whispers waned rapidly. It did not require more than a superficial examination to determine that, priest author or not, this is NOT a blog that Melancholicus wishes to include in his blogroll. He has many problems with it; these are itemised below.

1. The author’s anonymity

Readers may feel that criticism of a fellow blogger on account of his anonymity is a bit rich coming from someone like Melancholicus, who likewise publishes under a pseudonym. But there is really no comparison between the two. For who is Melancholicus? I am no one. I have no standing. I am the most abject and pitiful of men. My name, as a consequence, does not matter. Besides, there are sufficient clues as to Melancholicus’ true identity scattered throughout Infelix Ego enabling diligent souls to locate and identify him, if they wish; he is not anxious to keep his identity a secret, and has no nefarious agenda concealed behind his anonymity.

“sotto voce”, however, claims to be a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. As such he is a public figure. A figure of authority in the Catholic community. One who can teach with the voice of the Church. There is no reason for a priest to mask his identity unless he has something to hide — or unless he is no priest at all, and he is deceiving his readers by pretending to be one.

Furthermore, it is not possible to view “sotto voce”s profile, so no further information can be gleaned regarding who he is. While in itself this is a perfectly legitimate option for every blog owner, it tends to reinforce the general tone of secretive anonymity that surrounds this blog, as though “sotto voce” were so afraid the Inquisition might get him that he must protect his identity at all costs.

2. The enormous number of posts

“sotto voce” is an extremely prolific poster. While this in itself is no bad thing, Melancholicus finds it difficult to square the number of items posted daily to Clerical Whispers with the author’s stated profession of a priest. As a blogger himself, Melancholicus knows how time-consuming maintaining a blog on a regular basis can be. This guy must spend every hour God sends maintaining his blog and surfing the net for news stories to post; I cannot see how he has time for much else. In October 2007, for instance, over 350 items were posted to Clerical Whispers — in one month alone! That's an average of more than 10 a day, every day. The total number of posts for 2007 runs to nearly four thousand, and the year isn’t over yet.

3. The content of the posts

Most of the posts on Clerical Whispers are news stories which are clearly cut-and-pasted from other websites. Once again, this is no bad thing, and it can be useful to have a repository of ecclesiastical news without having to jump around between several different sites. Melancholicus does a fair bit of cut-and-paste work himself. However, the stories selected for publication on this blog and especially the titles given to the posts are heavily slanted from a dissenting point of view, and especially the “contributions” written, apparently, by other authors. Some of these are so nakedly hostile to the teaching of the Church that there can be no doubt of their authors’ intentions. “sotto voce” invariably appends a disclaimer to each post, disclaiming responsibility for the content of these articles, since he is not their author; however, by posting these offending pieces on his blog without either qualification or comment, his sympathies would seem to be clear. So far as Melancholicus has been able to determine, not one of his ‘contributions’ defends traditional Catholic teaching on any matter whatsoever.

4. No sources cited

When Melancholicus pastes a news story from an external source into Infelix Ego, he always cites the source of that story, as well as linking to the original page, so his readers need never be in any doubt as to whence the story comes. “sotto voce”, however, never cites his sources. His stories could come from anywhere; they might be invented fictions, for all his readers might know to the contrary.

5. Fides, Libertas, Veritas

This is the Latin subtitle, or motto, of Clerical Whispers. It means Faith, Liberty, Truth in English. However, the ‘faith’ depicted by this blog is not that of the Catholic Church; there is little doubt that ‘liberty’ means the same thing for “sotto voce” as it does for the secularists, i.e. liberty from the moral law and from traditional religion, and as far as ‘truth’ goes... well, the reader can make up his own mind on that one. Suffice it to say that Melancholicus has not found “sotto voce” particularly truthful. There are many epithets one could apply to the owner of Clerical Whispers, but truthful is not one of them.

6. The polls

A bizarre poll on the right-hand sidebar of Clerical Whispers asks its readers whether they find that blog liberal, conservative, balanced or “dont’t know”. Half of his visitors have apparently voted for “balanced”. How this could be so is a mystery to Melancholicus, as the tenor of the posting is so obviously slanted towards dissent, and linking to a few conservative websites does not qualify as balanced. If one were to be really generous to “sotto voce”, one might describe his blog as half-Catholic, but no more. A few crackpots even seem to regard Clerical Whispers as “conservative”, God knoweth how. Well, I guess it takes all sorts to make a world.

The small number of votes he received in this poll is also odd, given the allegedly voluminous amount of traffic to this site (for which see item 10 below).

7. The content of personal posts reveals his liberalism

Just check how frequently womyn priests appear on this blog. “sotto voce” seems to have more a proclivity for women’s ordination than anything else in the ecclesiastical world. Check also his views on abortion and homosexuality, as well as his “verbum ultimus” [sic] section. Latin grammar obviously isn’t the fellow’s strong point either.

8. His protestant resources

He has included links and resources for the dioceses of the Church of Ireland, even ahead of those he provides for the Catholic Church. That in itself shows where his sympathies lie. Many of his blog links are to protestant sites.

9. His evil links

His links are a really mixed bag. On the one hand, he links to Canterbury Tales and even the Latin Mass Society of Ireland, both impeccably orthodox websites, but otherwise most of his links are to sources of heresy and dissent, and even gnosticism and the occult. He also includes a link to one very evil site — Ratzinger: God’s Rottweiler — which is insulting to the Holy Father Pope Benedict, in a nasty, vitriolic and highly personal way. No Catholic should link to this despicable website, especially not one claiming to be a priest.

10. His relentless self-promotion

Melancholicus thinks that “sotto voce” is a vain man who craves attention and likes to be noticed. At the bottom of the Clerical Whispers home page there is a site counter which lists nearly a quarter of a million visitors since December 2006 — in other words, in the space of less than a year. This is odd, since Melancholicus cannot recall seeing a link to this blog from any other website he has visited. Not even the most popular Catholic blogs of his acquaintance receive this quantity of traffic. How has “sotto voce” managed to make himself so well-known as to have received more traffic than anyone else in the past year?

Then there is the cluster map, identifying the locations of all his visitors since May of this year. His visitors apparently come from practically every country on earth, including several thousand hits originating from China, and several hundreds more from various countries in eastern and southern Africa! Who can figure?

Despite the extraordinary number of visitors he allegedly receives, most of his posts have not attracted any comments or discussion. The number of comments on Clerical Whispers overall is very small, and this fact would seem to tell against the vast number of hits this blog allegedly receives on a daily basis. Surely this extraordinarily high level of traffic has been doctored in order to make Clerical Whispers and its author look to the casual viewer more important than they really are.

In sum, Melancholicus found the whole thing distasteful. Browsing this blog was a really creepy experience, and he has no intention of returning to it in the future, much less linking to it from Infelix Ego.

Actually, Melancholicus is inclined to believe that “sotto voce” is not an “Irish RC priest” at all. Irish yes. A priest, perhaps. But RC? This Melancholicus very much doubts. At least he hopes that this person is not in full communion with the Catholic Church, otherwise the calibre of the clergy in Ireland is in even worse shape than we feared.

On the other hand, Melancholicus is nearly convinced that Clerical Whispers is maintained by Pat Buckley or by a supporter thereof. Either that, or by a truly malicious and mischievous member of the Church of Ireland.

No comments: