Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some updates on guilding and ugly nicknames

Bill Oddie isn't as funny a Catholic blogger as he was a writer and vocal talent on the old BBC Radio program I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. However, he is worth reading.

About the abominable moniker "Taliban Catholic", he reports:

John Allen, to be fair, isn’t himself entirely happy about having invented the term. This is how he explains himself. At a university meeting in Dallas, he spoke of the existence of two polarities in Catholic opinion: “On the one extreme lies what my friend and colleague George Weigel correctly terms ‘Catholicism Lite,’ meaning a watered-down, sold-out form of secularised religiosity, Catholic in name only. On the other is what I call ‘Taliban Catholicism’, meaning a distorted, angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the TV sets of the modern world.’
“Some in the audience chuckled, but others weren’t so amused. One younger faculty member rose during the Q&A period to offer a thoughtful, and heartfelt, challenge:
"‘To say things with clarity is not to be the Catholic Taliban,’ she said, adding that she found the phrase ‘profoundly offensive.’
"‘There are no suicide bombers in the Catholic church,’ she said, ‘but we have had an epidemic of Catholicism Lite for the last 30 years.’ Younger Catholics, she insisted, should not be dismissed as fanatics simply because they seek ‘fidelity and clarity’.”
 Allen is orthodox in his views, though he writes with a remarkable neutrality—probably so that the people at the Fishwrap don't catch on to it and fire him. However, he serves as an object lesson in the perils of coining witticisms: there's a very fine line between "smartass" and "dumbass".

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Doctor Oddie also gave mention to an idea that's been floating around on the other side of The Pond for a Guild of Catholic Bloggers. Dylan Parry over at A Reluctant Sinner first floated the idea; as he explains in a comment on Dr. Oddie's post: "The intention in setting it up is to form a society where those who blog could meet up in person, share ideas, organise workshops (on writing, etc) and attend an annual Mass together. If many join, then it might even be possible to invite bishops to address the members, or even hand out a peer-judged award to the best Catholic blog etc."

It's a great idea, though workshops, annual Masses and addresses by bishops are "down the road a piece" ideas for a larger organization, and which might be beyond the reach of poorer bloggers (such as—for now—your humble servant). Right now, I think it would get off the ground more easily with less-formal "blognics" centered around state or regional "cells" (though I'm not happy with that term), with national coordination through the Web until national meetings become more feasible and appropriate. Perhaps, for right now, a website with a provisional statement of principles, a simple registry and some contacts? But I also think we should keep the fun in it as much as possible.

As I've said elsewhere, I'm not an organizer or the first person people look at for getting something off the ground—the most complex and successful things I've gotten done were a picnic and a bowling night for one of my employers. But I'd hate to see this become one of those ideas that a bunch of people say, "Wow, that's pretty cool!" and let die because no one did anything about it

So let's rev up the contact lists, my friends—send me some ideas; send links to this post to your blogging friends; send me links to other people talking about this. Let's roll!


  1. The best thing about this idea is that it takes the bloggers off the blogs for a little while. You know just how bad we can get at living online. The Pope spoke about it a few weeks ago. Let's do what we can to support the idea.

    God bless you!


  2. Absolutely, Maeve, and good to hear from you again. Between maintaining contacts and checking out the news and actually writing, I'm surprised I get anything else done around here! And having a whole bunch of "pen pals" around the world isn't quite the same as having friends in your own community. Don't get me wrong—friends of any category are graces from God—but there are trade-offs. Anyway, meetings like blognics are great opportunities to actually meet the people behind the avatars and form more immediate bonds.

    Dominus tecum,