The Fr. Josh Miller Theory on Bad Catholic Blogging
A FRIEND OF MINE HAS TWO CATEGORIES WITHIN HIS NEWSREADER FOR CATHOLIC BLOGS: “Catholic” and “Catholic Noise.”
I too have become rather disenchanted by St. Blogs. It’s not what it once was: even the giants are looking a little meager these days, as my friend and I swap little bits of insanity — bad theology and (perhaps more inexcusably) bad reasoning — back and forth on a near-daily basis.
In an effort to puy my finger on why this is, I’ve developed what I call “The Fr. Josh Miller Theory of Bad Catholic Blogging.” I think it more or less sums up why we grow to hate the blogs we love.
Here’s the gist of it:
- New content builds and maintains the readerbase.
- The blogger wants to maintain and build his/her readerbase.
- Most commentators don’t have a level of expertise which affords them the sustained ability to generate new content.
- Repeating yourself gets old.
- And thus, the need to wander away from a field of expertise and into raw speculation, which usually attempts to pass off particulars as universals.
The last item is really the kicker, and the point at which a good blog goes bad. Running out of things to say, the Catholic blogger turns to things he probably shouldn’t say. And because at this point it’s really about keeping readers rather than exploring Truth (which is motivated by ego, money, or both), the Catholic blogger adopts the position that either you’re a) with me, in which case you’re cool, or b) not with me, in which case you’re a terrible human being and obviously a poor Catholic to boot.
The bit about universals and particulars is also important: as speculation increases, and — in an attempt to stay relevant — the blogger attempts to show how Catholic Principle X (the universal) most certainly applies to this or that situation (the particular). Neverminding that the distinction they’ve made is likely arguable by people of good will, the Catholic blogger then entrenches him/herself into the position, come what may, and the level of discourse erodes from there.
BUT LEST I SEEM LIKE I’M MERELY TAKING A SHOT at St. Blogs, I offer these as suggestions:
- It should be about Truth. So make it about Truth.
- Similarly, don’t make it about your own ego.
- Write on what you know. And regardless, take your opinions with the seriousness of Chesterton, who was never afraid to laugh at his own precious darlings scrawled out before him.
- Don’t be a jerk: the blogs with a charity problem in the comments section don’t exactly get that way because random trolls just start showing up to pick fights.
- Don’t feel compelled to write when you really have nothing valuable to say.