Blognic at the Vatican (and why we should give a rat’s ...)
To coincide with the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II (sometimes referred to as "John Paul the Great" by those with misinformed enthusiasm), the Vatican has decided to invite a convocation of weblog authors -- "bloggers," if you will -- to the Eternal City on May 2. Katrina "The Crescat" Fernandez is actively engaged in a campaign on Facebook to be invited, and wants you to send them an e-mail and get them to invite her. Her cause may be lost, as events like these are generally reserved for what we could call "the usual suspects" -- bloggers who are either priests, well-established authors in print, or authors of dramatic conversion stories who know how to "speak to the kids of today." Groovy.
Those who attend the approved event will speak truth to power, or at least the truth those in power want to hear, kissing their rings (or whatever happens to be exposed for veneration) as they deliver their message of faith, hope, and mass consumption.
Meanwhile, Father Zuhlsdorf calls our attention to the "other" bloggers' event, also to be held in Rome, where the really KEWL kids are gonna be, namely at Scholar's Lounge Pub, Via del Plebiscito, 101b, and which is organized by our own Hilary Jane Margaret White. It is surely the preferable of the two events when it asks ...
"Do you suspect that they found your work just a leeetle too ... err... forthcoming about the bishops, the Church, the state of things?"
... and Father Z is no dummy. Yesterday, he announced he would attend the latter of the two "based on donations over the next few days before flights become too costly." That is all his loyal following of Z-Bots need to know. As of today, he's on the RSVP list as a "yes."
So, you must be telling yourself: “Aw, c'mon, O Mighty Black-Hatted One, you're just jealous because you aren't going!” Ah, my little minions, what fools you are to underestimate me. Were I to be in attendance, it would be at the same time that "Sal" is back in the Philippines, so the whole point of going to Rome would be to make HER jealous.
Barring that consideration, one must note that neither of these individuals gives much of a reason why YOU should spend your hard-earned money to send THEM to Rome for a vacation. Do you see that happening here? HELL NO! In fact, here are seven good reasons that none of you should even think about sending me a dime via my PayPal account
1) Any form of mass communication relies on what is known as "the formula." This is especially obvious in commercial radio, but it shows up elsewhere as well. Producers and purveyors look for the comfort zone of their target audience, and aim toward the middle. To that end, I don't exactly fit the Roman-Catholic-poster child-mold. No, I don't mean that I'm a sinner and others are not, or that I'm not and other are. That's beside the point. I don't have that fresh-shaven face and button-down demeanor, with an adorable, devoted wife and five or six obedient children wearing matching outfits. There are also no stories in passing of loading the kiddies into the van for soccer games, or staying up nights to watch the youngest one with a cold. Never mind our uniqueness in the eyes of God. It's not how we're different from the viewer that draws them to read us by the thousands; it's how much they identify with us. I'm fifty-six years old, divorced, with a grown son who says he's no longer Catholic -- personally, I think he's bluffing -- who lives with his fiancée in another city. Not the kind of guy the Knights of Columbus will nominate as "family man of the year" anytime soon. Where is the inspiration in that, I ask you?
2) An occasion to remarry in the Church is obviously the result of an "automatic" process where tribunals spit annulments out like a Pez dispenser -- a process which, in turn, would have been undertaken while forsaking that of praying for ten or twenty years that my wayward spouse would return to me. (Hey, YOU try living with her!) In the meantime, I am very likely up to every manner of wickedness, which all of you are too polite to mention (and for which I am grateful, by the way).
3) I do not have some dramatic conversion story involving either a perilously misspent youth around glamorous people, or any number of years as a High Priest of Satan, which I can now parlay into a book deal and a lecture tour on how I saw the light of the True Faith, and how you
4) In fact, I don't parlay much of anything into a book deal and lecture tour. Not that I wouldn't want to someday. But many years ago, before the internet, I made the conscious decision to pursue a professional career with a large institution, one that provided for a wife and family, later one that provided regular child support payments for fourteen years, and now provides for regular mortgage payments, and an eventual retirement. Trying to live the faith while living a normal life without hanging around a rectory every other weeknight for a meeting or a conspiracy to "reform" everybody but myself. Knowing that at no time before the Second Coming will some guy wearing the famous Black Hat -- birettas not included -- will ever appear on EWTN. (Ain't gonna happen. Trust me.)
5) I don't jump on every story that hits the Catholic blogosphere within the same news cycle. Don't ask me how, but others have time for that. There appears to be a demand for posting links to a dozen stories a day and connecting them to clever witticisms, and doing that day after day. Maybe I just don't have the gift. What I do have, is the unmitigated gall to wait until they've all finished re-hashing the press releases, not to mention each other, and then provide some semblance of a thoughtful analysis. Occasionally something that a few people have missed, like ... oh, the big picture, maybe. In fact, if you didn't know better, you would think that I had done some serious reading on the subject. Or even had a mind of my own.
6) When it comes to assisting at Holy Mass, I'm not exactly groovin' to that rockin' Steubenville Sound (and some of you know exactly what I mean), nor am I totally in with the Tridentine-Mass-or-die crowd (although being a Master of Ceremonies for such occasions for the past three years can merit a few points). When it comes to matters of Catholic worship, I am clearly one of those "reform of the reform" guys, employing a term obviously coined by some crackpot theoretician to prolong worthless polemics and otherwise reinvent the wheel (and who, the way, is now the Pope.) So there goes two target audiences right there.
7) My weblog (I hate the name "blog", and use it only reluctantly) is not generously decorated with pictures of the Holy Father, Mother Teresa, and every other Catholic luminary on the fan-club curcuit. (As the Good Book says: "Put not your faith in princes.") It is, however, decorated with me, if sparingly. In fact, to know this was a "Catholic" blog, you'd probably have to break down and read it, as opposed to viewing a lot of pretty pictures, the posting of which involves relatively little skill (and a lot of bandwidth). That's when you'd discover that being Catholic, in the words of writer Thomas Storck, "can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue." There is also the danger of actually learning something about the Faith that comes from actually reading more than a pithy paragraph.
So there you have it, kiddies; seven good reasons not to send me to Rome.
But ... were it to happen, those assembled would run the risk of hearing something truly original, as opposed to whatever's been regurgitated for the last three years on YouTube, and/or the last three decades in The Wanderer. Besides, if they really wanted to hear from me, the place has free wi-fi, and they undoubtedly have heard of Skype in Italy.
Let's see them show their cutting edge with that, and let you save your disposable income for the collection plate, or ... oh, maybe ... just maybe ...