Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail
I finally returned to internet connectivity this week, which has meant catching up on news & blogs I have neglected. Part of this “reconnecting” included denying a facebook friend request from someone I never heard of-only to find out that this someone was a fake online persona created in the Catholic Fascist’s attempt at satire. Having looked over all of the posts there, I was struck by how eerily similar the site was to another parody group blog-The Spirit of Vatican II.
Both blogs employed a host of satirical characters with enough resemblance to real life to make laugh (I think whoever thought of danmclockinload deserves a guest post on TAC) at first, both got roaring laughter from their own partisans-and neither blog was funny after a few days.
Part of these failings is the desire to top oneself. In satire, it’s hard to keep it up, because the goal of satire is to point out absurdity. To keep going, you are strongly tempted to simply make it more absurd. As you go more absurd, you get further and further away from reality, and the practical point is lost in the pursuit of laughter. Another temptation is try to find new material. You start attacking everything you see in your opponent. Sooner or later, you start attacking things that are good.
This latter temptation reminds me an awful lot of Lewis’s description of his experience writing the Screwtape Letters found in the introduction to “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”
But thought it was easy to twist one’s mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, or not for long. The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst, and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness and geniality had to be excluded. It almost smothered me before I was done. It would have smothered my readers if I had prolonged it.
By assuming these characters, both Spirit of Vatican II and Catholic Fascist were in essence doing what Lewis did and they both suffered (and are suffering) the same effects.
This is not to say satire does not have its place, even on Catholic blogs. It, like most other things, can be done in moderation (though it is difficult to do charitably or with an aim towards conversion & openness to the truth). An occasional satire is good if not overdone.
But in the end, satire only tears something down. Catholic blogs are at their best when they not only tear down the bad but also build up the good. All blog wars and parody blogs tend to do is tear down and tear apart, but they never point towards the true. I admit that I am guilty of this as anyone else, if not more so, but I think if the Catholic blogosphere is to fulfill its potential as a medium for Christ it must stop being merely about why “Blogger A is wrong.”
If our faith is truly being reflected in our writings, then the sheer beauty and awe of our faith and its rich traditions ought to be the shining light emerging from our blogs. Disagreements with others can help point out the finer elements of that beauty, but when our disagreements consume us, they cloud out the light.
This isn’t to say that the guys of TAC need to sign up for liturgical dancing or that the Vox Nova crowd should join us for a Independence Day BBQ & fireworks show. We can still disagree with one another frequently. But if any Catholic blog simply becomes a blog against another blog (or political party, or really anything), then it ceases to be truly Catholic. Catholics are not Protestants; we were not formed merely in opposition to something but rather we were formed FOR something. While no blog has done that yet, let’s all step back away from the ledge and remind ourselves of what we as Catholics truly are capable of sharing.
That said, if the Vox Nova crowd is interested in that BBQ, I’m bringing the beer-a few cases of Louisiana-made Abita Amber will bring everyone together.