23 May 2010


Punk Catholic Thought of the Week X

(Catholic blogging: I can't live with it and I can't live without it! But I can close comments so as not to encourage a circus.)

Perhaps the only thing worse than speculating about which people are going to go to hell is speculating about which people are going to get canonised.

Well, okay, they're not equally bad. I just needed a good lead. =P To continue . . .

There was one cool Catholic blog I just had to stop reading after one of the commenters gushed to the blogger:

"I was just telling my husband the other day that you are the one person I know who will definitely be canonised some day."

WTH, right?!

Now, I, of all people, should know how easy it is to be sucked into the pro-personality cult culture of the Catholic interwebs (a "real-time" reflection--albeit a distorted one--of Catholic culture in general) and to think that it's both normal and ideal. Which it's really not.

A few years ago, in the combox of another Catholic blog, another random commenter expressed a belief that certain living Catholic writers (Look, Mom! No names!) would be raised to the altar in the future. For their exemplary service to the Church, you know. I read that at a time I actually liked all of them (ALL of them), and even then the reasoning behind the statement bothered me.

It called to mind an article by a priest who believed that former US President John F. Kennedy would be canonised one day, and as a martyr! (The priest wrote it long before Kennedy's extramarital affairs became common knowledge.) I can imagine that a lot of Catholics in America felt this way in the 1960s--and I believe that I, too, would have been caught up in the wave of santo subito sentiment, had I been among them. When the professional persona looks that good, we like to believe that it's the truth about the person. Sometimes we believe it with nothing to go by but a slick blog.

At least Kennedy was already dead, you know?

The present situation makes one want to read the Desert Fathers while Punk Rock (The Dead Kennedys? LOL!) plays really loudly in the background, drowning out the rest of the world. Yeah, that would be a good way to stay sane.

I don't really like the Dead Kennedys, though . . .

And I have a strange affinity for "sell outs" like Green Day.

Now, just to be clear, praise is fine--and often just. Someone who publishes a particularly good piece deserves some positive feedback--and in the blogosphere, even a bunch of linkbacks. (Isn't that why we bloggers do what we do?) But in an environment so conducive to personality cults, there is a thin line between healthy appreciation and what is known as "fantarding." (We get this useful term from the words "fan" and "retard.") You know you've just crossed the line when your gushing comment becomes a personal remark about someone you've never even met. Let's face it: no matter how many books of theirs we read, how many pictures of their smiling mugs we see, how many Podcasts of their voices we subscribe to . . . we don't really know them. And they probably like it that way.

Mother Angelica, a Poor Clare nun who ran a TV network, once quipped that she believed hagiographers would get an extra fifty years in Purgatory. (You know, for making the saints seem so saintly, which becomes a huge discouragement to ordinary people reading their lives.) If I were the quipping sort--and yes, I do have my moments--I'd make it 100 years in Purgatory for anyone who writes hagiography before a person is even dead.

Now ask yourself when you started thinking that someone who has a "pious," "devotional," "traditional," "orthodox," or God forbid, "cool," blog must be a good Catholic. It's the non sequitur of the Catholic blogosphere.

And it doesn't matter whether the blog belongs to the apologetics ring or to the parenting/homeschooling ring or whatever. In a corner of the Internet in which personality cults thrive, one idol is as good bad as another.

(Comments are still closed because the people who leave them only after posts with the "Punk Catholic" tab and ignore all my other beautiful posts are ANNOYING.)