I do not know whether this is an American thing, but I read around here and there, particularly in those that I would call the “sensitive” Catholic blogs, commenters complaining that they are insulted on Facebook or Twitter for upholding Christian values.
It is, I think, as if they would seek some sort of validation. “Sniff, sob, someone called me a bigot, and someone else even a … hater! Please, please Mr Blogger and dear commenters, tell me again this is not the case!”
Now, as Catholic I understand there are two sexes, and they are wired in a very different way. The more sensitive, more delicate and more emotional feminine mind may well be more easily upset from derogatory or outright insulting remarks; but when I read that grown men have the same reaction and seek the same emotional reassurance from the “sensitive support troops” I begin to be seriously alarmed at the damages the omnipresent culture of sensitivity and permanent emotional reinforcement has done to us.
It seems to me that some men all too often forget that God made them able to fight wars, to kill and be killed. I wonder how a man whose emotional stability is compromised, and perhaps the entire day ruined, by insults from people he doesn't even know would perform under enemy fire. What I can tell you for certain is that in my culture and generation merely to whine with third parties about what someone else has said about one's moral qualities would have attracted some not entirely unjustified remarks about one's manliness. Speaking of my blogging experience, I find my load of rubbish in the comment bin, and when it passes my spam wall I simply take care in future it doesn't; and the situation is still far more peaceful than at “Homo Smoke”, where the offences and insults were a daily occurrence (don't worry, I wasn't a pansy either). In the present day, Catholic men should, if you ask me, invite controversy, because in this day and age Christianity itself is controversial; far more so than it was the case in the West even during the Cold War, or the flippin' Seventies. Yes, it will cost some friendships; yes, it will cost confrontation, even with people we love, even within our own family. So be it, more deposits on our heavenly savings account; one day, that account will be cashed in.
When I was in elementary school, my teacher used to scold whining boys telling them to stop, because one day they must be fit to go to war. The same I heard from my father several times, so it must have been a staple of conservative boys education; and a wise way of educating a young man it was.
Our generation was fortunate enough not to have to go to war, but this does not mean that it was and is not confronted with serious conflicts, be it communism or secularism.
Christian men are born for combat, and Catholic ones must be twice ready for it. As a Christian, we will be insulted, belittled and mocked rather often. Good! It means we are doing it right. We are supposed to fight the good fight and shrug away insults and mockery; and let us call ourselves lucky enough we are not tested beyond that.
Our generation was not probed in battle. For Heaven's sake, let us not be said that Facebook, Twitter or a discussion forum are a hard probe.
There was a time when the reaction times of the Church was very slow. A heresy would pop out somewhere in Europe and it was year before a meaningful reaction came. Still, the apparent slowness was a result of the slowness of the communications of the time, and the difficulty in getting and checking information. The slowness of movement also made the rest, with travel slow, expensive and dangerous in a way we today can not even easily imagine.
It is, therefore, understable in those tomes the Church reaction to worrying and ptentially heretical development was measured in years.
Please compare, though, with the world of today. A bunch of heretic German clergymen defies the very foundation of sound Catholicism on both contraception and abortion, and the news is all over the panet in a matter of hours. Never could heresy spread so easily and so fast, never was it -because of the unprecedented global interconnection – so important that heretical movement of simply confusing statements be stopped as fast as possible.
What is there to stop the relevant deciders from acting? Do they have the need for months of verification, waiting for carefully selected people to travel to Germany, comes back hopefully alive, and report about what thwrey themselves have heard? Nowadays heretical statements can be read not only from verbatim reports in the newspapers – which, if not denounced as wrong in a matter of hours, can be safely considered truthful – but in many cases can even be read in the web site of cardinals, bishops and bidhops’ conferences themselves! What is there to proof?
Then there is the extreme multiplying factor of social networks: an heretical statement will nowadays be retweeted with extreme rapidity, spreading like wildfire exactly among those most interested in reading, spreading and manipulating heresy.
What does the Vatican do to react o this? Nothing.
For example, the Pope has a twitter account followed by a vast number of people. If a heretical statement starts to spread, nothing is better than Twitter to stop it from spreading. Two or three strategic twits explaining in few statement what the Church teaches, and announcing further action in the matter would immediately alert the Catholic world that a problem has been seen and corrected for the moment, whilst further meaures will be taken in due time (which means: very soon).
The sad reality of our days is that Twitter is used to post pious platitudes instead, perpetuating the Vatican II image of Popes without power or bite.
If you think, though, that the Vatican is slow because the Pope and the Cardinals are old, You should think again. When they want, the reaction is rather fast, and rather sharp. Cue the rather whining press release of today, with which Vatican officials openly complain about attempt made by the press to influence the workings of the Conclave. Whilst it is not said explicitly, it is obvious the crux of the matter is the loud cry to adk hat Mahony and Daneels (Mahony at the very least) be asked by the Pope to please “renounce” to take part to the Conclave; a cry which started to mount only in the last days, and took a couple to get traction in the first place.
You see, then, that the old men in the Vatican are alert at all times, and not shy of a fast reaction when they consider the matter burning.
Heresy and open disobedience are, therefore, not burning issues and not worthy of prompt actions. Calls to disallow the one or other cardinal from taking part to the conclave are. The German bishops are openly simoniacal like a man, and several monhs later we are still waiting from a reaction from the German Pope; a reaction which, in this like in too many other matters, will now never come.
Welcome to The wonderful world of Vatican II, and let us truly pray the next Pope will be a holy man of action.
One of the reasons I like WordPress is what seems to me a commitment to protect typically American freedoms, particularly the freedom of speech so relevant to their work (but also, say, the privacy of anonymous bloggers, which is the other side of the coin).
I run a blog with rather strong words in it, or with photos comparing Sebelius and Obama to Hitler. I use (and so should you, by the way) words like “faggot” or “whore” to make very clear the time of senseless, self-harming “sensitivity” must end and things must be called with their own proper name again; I compare entire Countries to the evil of the past as I did it with Norway, and so on.
The only time WordPress expressed a “concern” about my blog (and stopped me from posting new material for a couple of days) was when the not very smart PR man of a English bishop, probably not having better to do with his time, threatened legal action because I had, by a Google-induced mistake, posted the photo of a different bishop than the bishop indicated in the caption, and who was the employer of the above-mentioned genius.
After that, I never had the slightest problem with WordPress, and I must say all in all they make an excellent job at no cost to either you or me.
Twitter seems,on the other hand, a different matter. I read more and more frequently about accounts being suspended, and those strange backup accounts I see every now and then seem linked to at least the possibility of being suspended. From anecdotical experience, it seems the reasons for suspension become more and more linked to simple grounds of political correctness, as Twitter becomes the watchdog of all those who think there’s nothing better that silencing their opponents.
The last episodes has now made It to the press, with comments critical of the liberal, pro-murder of babies stance of the NAACP leading to the suspension of the authors of the remark. For those of you who don’t know, the NAACP is the official megaphone of Democrat America among the US Black community, and is clearly at the service of the social engineering proposed by the Democratic agenda. This includes the genocide of unborn Black babies according to the ideology of Margaret Sanger, the racist (and whoring) founder of that other pet of liberal America called Planned Parenthood.
Small as my blog is, it isn’t minuscule anymore; rare are now the days below 1,000 page views (at least when I do post), and I cannot imagine that my robust writing style – far more robust, by the way, than the tweets leading to the account suspension – has not led the one or other activist homosexual or abortionist to complain with WordPress about my blog. My blogging activity, though, goes on undisturbed.
Twitter has a very strong position now, and very many – including yours truly – enjoy the occasional jump into its 140 character-rows. Still, they – and I – do so because we think we will find a free exchange of opinions there, and take into account the inevitable unpleasantness that goes with it. I have received – and, honestly, given – my dose of fancy names and adjectives, and the thought of asking that someone’s account be suspended because someone offended me never entered my mind.
Twitter must pay attention not to squander the biggest asset they have: freedom of expression. If they don’t, it’s only a matter of time before more intelligent competitors come along and Twitter goes the way of MySpace.
So the Pope has passed the barrier of 1.3 million followers on Twitter, and he appears destined to break every record before long. Still, I am unable to see any great positive aspect in the news.
I have already written about why I think that it does not befit a Pope to descend, as it were, among the people. It also appears only today the slowest have discovered the Pope doesn’t really read his Twitter account (you don’t say? Astonishing…).
Still, it can’t be denied Twitter does have its own use. As I see it, twitter is well suited for the short exchange, the one-two, the close combat. Twitter can’t be used to convey complex concepts, but it can certainly be used to convey short truths in a very punchy way. This kind of short, politically incorrect, shocking message would be wonderfully suited to Twitter, and the huge following of the Pope would help this message to spread around like wildfire.
Let us make some example: short but orthodox tweets could be Q & A from the Penny Catechism; they would mostly have to be divided, but no one would have any difficulty in following them.
Shorter and grittier messages would also be thinkable, like “if you support abortion you are at grave risk of damnation”, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, “there is a time for peace and a time for war”, “today is the anniversary of the great day of Lepanto”, “pray the rosary every day” and countless others.
Imagine what impact would have on the entire Catholic world a Pope authorising one or two of these salvos every day. It would spread literally everywhere, and even the tidal wave of insults and abuse occasioned by them would be extremely useful in attracting the attention on the snippets of Truth daily distributed through Twitter. It would in my eyes be a big instrument of evangelisation, because short statements about real issues coming from such a source would cause the entire planet to take notice and the short, punchy style for which Twitter is so well suited would do the rest.
Not so today, I must say. The Pope’s tweets rival those of the Dalai Lama in innocuousness and, whilst obviously far more useful than those of the latter, are truly nothing to write home about. Catholic afternoon tea talk, rather than a Cyber Crusade.
The situation being what it is, the twitter exercise and the huge following of the Pope remind me of the crowds waiting for the Pope at the airport: a huge kermesse skilfully hiding behind a compact wall of people the immense superficiality of modern, V II Catholicism.
With the new Pope’s twitter account, everyone can follow and feel, in a way, as if he were there at the airport; and this is, I am afraid, the reason why most people follow. To be there, to be part of it, to express an innocuous “approval” rather than being committed to the rather hard truths of Catholicism, this is the real meaning of this big number of followers: a bit like being at the airport without the queues, the security and the waiting. As for the crowds at the airport, easy words rather than hard truths will be administered.
Hard truths of which, you can bet your pint, the Holy Father won’t tweet very many.
Those of you who tweet will have probably noticed the news: the Holy father has his own “personal” Twitter address. Of course he already had one (@BenedictXVI, or the like), but the “Benedict” one was rather a PR outlet than a “proper” tweet.
So, will this be a proper “tweet” address? I cannot imagine it, but let’s hope not and let us see why:
1) Last time I looked (= two seconds ago) the Holy Father was following a grand total of 7 people. This won’t make for a great excitement when reading the timeline.
2) The public’s answer is enthusiastic, with more than 450,000 followers in a matter of very few days; but one wonders how many follow the Holy Father purely to show the Catholic flag (as I do; I doubt I’ll ever read anything worth the reading from there) and how many follow him merely to spit insults at him every time he posts a tweet, or perhaps even without waiting for that. Cue all the abortionists and sodomites launching themselves in rants against pedophile priests so that they may appear virtuous.
3) I imagine the process of the Pope writing on twitter like that: he decides to write something; then he takes a sheet of paper and writes it by hand; the first secretary reads it and thinks it’s fine; he gives it to the second secretary who notices it’s more than 140 characters; the “tweet” goes back to the Holy Father who writes a shorter version as requested; the first secretary still thinks it’s fine; the second secretary tips it on Twitter and sends it; a huge load of abuse follows.
4) Nor would I imagine (or want) the Pope in front of his computer/IPad/whatever thinking “let me log in on Twitter”, reading the amount of abuse directed at him, and “engaging” with the readers. Firstly I am sure he has more important things to do (no, I am not talking of writing books), secondly it is not fitting for a Pope that he “engages”. Which leads us neatly to
5) If you ask me, a Pope is supposed to be above things, not in their middle. He is supposed to hover over the cares of humanity and to lead the faithful with a firm hand. He must be the general on the hilltop, not the corporal in the close-quarters bayonet fight. The Pope cannot sink to the level or the common people, because the Pope is supposed to be above the level of the common people; to think otherwise is democratic drunkenness, not defence of the Pope.
What is next, the Pope as judge on the X-factor? Or in some strange island?
Summa Summarum, this twitter thing might well turn out to be a rather sterile exercise, used either to write easy sounding platitudes in Dalai Lama style (ok, the Holy Father’s platitudes would certainly be less flat; which by the astonishing stupidity of the Dalai Lama ones isn’t difficult anyway) or to send to the world link to the Pope’s activity, which the other Twitter address already did. One struggles to see the use, and wonders why a Pope should “get among the people” in such a way. Can’t imagine Pope Pius XII walking down the pub and saying: “Hi folks, I’m the Pope: what’s on your mind?”. Caring for the people doesn’t mean mixing with them; and if some great Popes did so (Sixtus V, apparently; and Pius XII, certainly) they did so incognito, and never meant it as an exercise in popularity and “democracy”.
Of course, evangelising means to be among the people; but the role of a Pope is in selecting good evangelisers (the bishops) able to inspire other evangelisers (the priests, friars, and even the laity), not in descending from his throne and mix with the tweeting mob to show he is one of us.
Methinks, this must be an idea of Father Lombardi.