Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The cafeteria has re-opened, and other animals

The internet is at present abuzz with the fall from grace of a well-known Catholic blogger.

The person in question recently published remarks on his blog which can be construed as running contrary to the teachings of the Church on the subject of same-sex attraction. His post generated a storm of controversy, as the number of comments (nearly 500 at the last count), and their heated content, will testify.

A subsequent post contained remarks on — I shit you not — the gender realignment of children which, if intended seriously, can only identify their author as a kook. But Melancholicus feels this latter post must surely have been written to bait the fellow’s already infuriated readership rather than advance shocking deviancies, so he will say no more about that.

It is always a sad and unfortunate affair whenever a previously sound and orthodox writer goes off the rails, and begins publishing opinions which cannot be reconciled with profession of the Catholic faith.

While Melancholicus was dismayed at the fall of the person in question, he was disturbed most of all by the uncharitable nature of the criticisms and the personal attacks this person received in his commbox. The spite and fury wherewith the fellow’s readers turned on him is truly lamentable; they would have done better to say an Ave for his erring soul rather than savage him after the manner of a rottweiler. Harsh criticism always has the effect of hardening a man in his position. Did not St. Francis de Sales remind us that we would catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrelful of vinegar?

To their credit, some of the commentators were likewise disturbed by the rage evident in their peers. One remarked sardonically, “These Christians, how they love one another!” One of the cheapest remarks was (on a different blog dealing with the same issue) “...when he started linking to Rod Dreher a few weeks later, I knew all I needed to know”.

So what if he links to Rod Dreher? Is it not his blog, to link to whomsoever he chooses? And poor Rod Dreher needs prayers, not derision.

Rod Dreher is now a pariah among Catholics since he left the Roman communion in favour of Eastern Orthodoxy in 2006. His departure was likewise accompanied by shrill cries of condemnation and horror. Having read Mr. Dreher’s account of his reasons for leaving the Church, Melancholicus is saddened and feels for the man. He would feel keenly for any man in a similar situation. Melancholicus has a peculiar empathy for those who leave the Church under such circumstances, since not so long ago, he was on the verge of leaving the Church himself, and for reasons not entirely dissimilar to those of Mr. Dreher (as well as a certain imbalance of mind owing to personal circumstances, which may have rendered any such departure, had it occurred, material rather than strictly formal).

Now our erstwhile popular Catholic blogger has not left the Church, as far as we know. But who knows, really, how life is treating him these days, or what his personal circumstances are?

Accordingly, Melancholicus would ask the readers of blogs to show some restraint whenever they come up against a post they don’t like. Melancholicus has read a great many blog posts that annoyed him, provoked him, infuriated him, and not a few peddling blatant untruths, but he has always resisted the temptation to shout back in anger at the author. We don’t know what goes on in people’s lives, and if we knew first-hand the excruciating personal difficulties our neighbour may be wrestling with, we might be abashed and inclined to be more circumspect in our response to his postings.

Men are possessed of a radical freedom, a freedom even to reject the sovereign good in eternity. A man may choose the true and the good — or he may choose otherwise. Thanks to the darkness of the intellect as a result of original sin, a man may have a hard time discerning the true and the good, and may often arrive at mistaken conclusions, often influenced in his thinking by other factors and external pressures. God Himself does not compel adherence to the truth, so why should the readers of a blog expect unfailing adherence to truth as a matter of course? No private person is infallible. Even popes have in their day uttered nonsense incompatible with the teachings of the Magisterium.

So Melancholicus will not condemn the unfortunate blogger, not because he is sympathy with the fellow’s views (he most certainly isn’t), but because he chooses to reserve condemnation for those who truly merit it — bishops, theologians, Jesuits, the unelected and unaccountable European Commission, idealistic socialist twits, and those mad Moslems.

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