Well, we have added a new Catholic blog to our blog roll, OnePeter5. Run by Steve Skojec, here is his explanation of its mission:
We need to get back to basics. Belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. An understanding of the Four Last Things, and that Heaven is not a foregone conclusion. Adherence to traditional teachings on sexual morality in a world hell-bent on dragging us away from them. A properly-grounded knowledge of the Church’s thought on religious liberty and social justice, and how these impact those of us living in the post-Christian, deconstructionist ruins of Western Civilization. The re-establishment of long-discarded tradition that once made the Church strong, and can do so again.
The statistics aren’t good. Belief in core Catholic teaching among self-identified Catholics is at an all-time low. Liturgical orthodoxy is an endangered concept. We have a vocations crisis that stems directly from the crisis in the sanctuary and the family. And the governments of the world move closer each year to declaring Catholic belief a hate crime.
OnePeterFive exists as a place to begin rebuilding the Catholic ethos. We’re not just here to zero in on the problems, but to offer concrete solutions. We want to restore Catholic culture, rebuild the Church as a patron of the arts, reinvigorate the family and the traditions that keep it strong, reform the liturgy, support vocations, dust off the old devotions and make them relevant again. We want to help infuse the world with beautiful music, inspiring art, families that pray together, parishes centered around the Eucharist, strong communities, and a new generation of Catholics who can effectively bring the Gospel message to a world hostile to that message.
Our writers come from diverse backgrounds, but share a common goal: to work together to restore the beauty, majesty, and glory of the Catholic Church as the principle force for good in a fallen world.
Joseph Prever, who has blogged under the pseudonym Steve Gershom, (and who is Simcha Fisher’s brother), has written a rather intimate post discussing being homosexual and a practicing Catholic. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the key point:
You probably know this already, but I’m celibate, because I’m Catholic. You will not hear me talking about When Oh When Will The Church Get With The Times, because that kind of talk is boring nonsense. Guys, the whole point of having the Church is having one thing, just one!, that you can depend on to always be the same. Thank God for that.
If you want a church that constantly changes to fit in with whatever’s fashionable this decade, there are a bazillion options, and you’re bound to find one that is custom-tailored to your particular set of prejudices. Happy shopping.
It’s actually harder to come out as celibate than to come out as gay. Various people have pitied me, or tried to convince me that my life is vewwy vewwy sad, or tried to talk me out of it, or even surreptitiously tried to set me up with their gay friends. If you do this shit, I will not spin-kick you in the face, but I will very badly want to.
Now as is typical for the Catholic blogopshere, while many if not most have been supportive of Joseph, there is a rather vocal undercurrent that is more critical. Some of the more vitriolic, and frankly unhinged comments are simply not worth the time to respond to. There are a couple of more rational criticisms, expressed in many circles, that are worth addressing.
That Joseph uses the word “gay” to describe himself has bothered many. You’ll hear this complaint on many topics related to same sex attraction, particularly if you ever use the term “gay marriage.” There is some merit to this objection, as words do have significant connotations. Even Prever himself is uncomfortable with the word, and says so himself:
Some people have a problem with the word “gay”. That’s okay; I get it. I have a problem with it too. I’ve written a little about that. It’s not a perfect word, but words are like that. You have to know the context. My life is the context. Get to know me first, and then we can argue about it.
Unlike most who have read this paragraph I gather, I bothered to look at the link Prever provided, and it opened to his about page where he writes this:
So are you gay, or what?
You could say that, if you wanted to, although I don’t like the term and don’t identify with it. I’m attracted primarily
and almost exclusivelyto men, and have been since I was about fourteen; but I don’t date men or have sex with them, so where does that leave me? I’m a faithful Catholic, so a romantic relationship with another man literally doesn’t fit into the way I see the world. I don’t see myself as different in any essential way from heterosexual men, so describing myself as “gay” doesn’t seem to fit.
On the other hand, “homosexual” sounds clinical, “queer” certainly isn’t me, and “man who’s attracted to other men” is cumbersome. So, “gay” is a useful sort of shorthand, and I’ll use it from time to time until a better word comes along. SSA (same-sex attraction) is a useful term too, as in “He has SSA” rather than “He is SSA.”
Okay, but can’t you please use some other word besides “gay”? People are going to get the wrong idea.
People have made the point that, by using the same terminology used by those who hold the view that homosexuality is a normal, natural, healthy, super-wonderful sexual variant of human behavior, I’m implicitly legitimizing that view.
This is a valid point. Over and against this point, however, I weigh the fact that the word “gay” is immediately recognizable. If anyone cares enough to read what I’ve written on the blog, they’ll find out what I think about it. And — let’s be honest — “gay” is much better for SEO purposes.
Scandal! Well, not really. This is an eminently reasonable argument. If you want to quibble, feel free, but to me it seems rather pedantic, and I’m not about to cast Mr. Prever into the hellfire for using the term.
The more serious criticism is basically this: it is wrong for Prever to identify as gay (or homosexual or SSA) publicly, as he is giving tacit support for the lifestyle. Essentially, his public profession gives scandal.
This is wrongheaded for a number of reasons. As he makes abundantly clear, he lives a chaste life. No one who reads what he has written could claim with any level of intellectual honesty that he has given tacit support for the homosexual lifestyle, or that his admission of being gay somehow implies that identifies as gay above being Catholic, or that it is his sole defining identification. I would like to believe that this audience is familiar enough with the Catechism to understand that nothing that Prever wrote contradicts in any way the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.
More importantly, the calls for Mr. Prever to, for lack of a better term, stay in the closet strikes me as stupefyingly boneheaded. We live in a culture where homosexual behavior is not only accepted, it is largely celebrated. Here we have an amazing testimony that goes profoundly against the grain. Here we have a gay man (sorry, homosexual) who proudly testifies to the truth of Holy Scripture, affirms the magisterial teaching of the Holy Church, and conforms his life to these teachings. And he should shut up? This magnificent sign of contradiction shouldn’t evangelize to the truth? Are you kidding me?
It seems that so often we Catholics strive diligently to be our own worst enemies. We do our best to shout down the very people who are the greatest testimonies to the awesome love of our Lord.
I understand to a point the almost reflexive anger demonstrated by some Catholics when it comes to homosexuality. We feel we’re banging our heads collectively against a wall, battling a culture that seems (and is) outright hostile to our values. The Gestapo-like tactics employed against those who oppose this cultural transformation sickens us all. But can we just take a minute before becoming the caricatures we’re portrayed to be? Can we display that love of Christ here on Earth and embrace those who are the very exemplars of courage and sacrifice? Or would we rather obsesses over semantics and condemn to hell the very people who most need our support?
Drop everything. Donald, put down that book on Civil War trivia and pay attention here. Tito, maybe you should take a moment from launching those five or eight new blog ideas and listen up.
The 6th Annual Cannonball Catholic Blog Anti-Awards are on – hosted by the indomitable The Crescat…, one of the best bloggers in the Catholic blogiverse.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, The American Catholic has been nominated in the Best Political Blog category. So head on over there, show some bloggity pride, and cast your votes! Sure, no one will get a statue to put on a mantle, or any endorsement deals. But so what? It’s called “fun”.
Oh – and by the way – while you’re over there – remember to vote for Acts of the Apostasy in the Most Hifreakinlarious and Snarkiest Blog categories. Yeah, you’ll see that Lisa Graas has been nominated for Snarkiest Blog as well. So here’s a suggestion: contributors with last names from A-M vote for me, and those from N-Z can vote for Lisa. That’s fair, isn’t it? Maybe?
And you can vote once per 24 hours. How cool is that? You can pretend to be a dead liberal union member from Chicago, and it won’t be illegal or immoral! I’m not sure when the contest closes, so don’t delay.
There are other crazy categories as well – like ‘Best Potpourri of Popery’ and ‘Best Blog By A Heretic’. So go join in the celebration of averageness!
Here are this past weeks Top-10 most visited Catholic posts from The American Catholic for June 20-26:
1. Parish Shopping by Michael Denton
2. McChrystal Should Be Fired by Donald R. McClarey
3. Sharia in Dearborn? by Donald R. McClarey
4. G.K. Chesterton on Lincoln by Donald R. McClarey
5. Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium by Chris Burgwald
6. Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2) by Darwin
7. Toy Story 3 by Michael Denton
8. Planned Parenthood, What Happened to the Money? by D.R.M.
9. Under the Roman Sky by Donald R. McClarey
10. I Am Shocked, Shocked! by D.R. McClarey
Top 25 Catholic Blogs by Technorati Authority by John Henry
On June 3, Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Communications Committee, delivered a talk on Catholic media in general, and in one portion of the talk, the Catholic blogosphere. Bishop Zavala made some very good points.
First, he called upon Catholic media to “Speak the truth out of a love for the Church, and a love for the people of God.”
Next, and this one I particularly liked, the bishop called for the Catholic media to
always proceed with humility and civility. The humility comes from the realization that none of us have all the facts of a story. There are always other perspectives beyond our own. Committing to civility means moving away from positions of attacking…
Indeed! Finally, Zavala expressed his hope that the Catholic media would “always work to present Church teaching fairly and accurately.” I couldn’t have said it better.
On the blogosphere in particular, finally, the bishop expressed the following thought:
[W]e are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.
This talk certainly made the position of the bishops on Catholic media and the blogs quite clear. One nagging question remains, however: does it apply to the bishops themselves?
For instance, does it apply to Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles – Zavala’s boss, no less – whom on April 18th denounced the immigration law in Arizona as “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques”, and without any evidence claimed that the law mandates that “people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation”?
By the criteria set forth by Zavala, Cardinal Mahony owes the state of Arizona, its lawmakers, officials and citizens who support the law, an apology.
John Henry and myself are a bit of stats geeks and we’ve been trying to figure out the most accurate way to gauge the number of visits American Catholic has been receiving by our readers. We use WordPress, Sitemeter, and Feedburner to see how we fare and I’ve entertained the possibility of using StatCounter to add to our curious habit. Then John Henry mentioned Google Reader and how it keeps tabs of the number of subscribers each website and blog has. That gave me the idea to add all of my favorite Catholic websites and see which ones have the most subscribers!
Now before you go and see who ranks where keep in mind that Google Reader only keeps track of Google account holders that add websites and/or blogs to their reader. It doesn’t keep track of how many times a site is visited and not all websites such as the Vatican (and yes even a couple of blogs such as Catholic Report) don’t even offer an RSS or Atom feed to subscribe to. If it’s any consolation Google Reader seems to be the most popular reader out there with Bloglines a close second.