Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Calling b---s--- in the blogosphere

One of the curious phenomena of the "blogosphere" -- at least, the theological segment of it -- is that certain subjects seem to draw out the worst: niggling, obscurantistic nitpickers who are determined to muddy things up when most folks would like a little clarity.

There are subjects that especially require great precision -- and the truth is, people who blog for fun, rather than as ones main vocation -- are not usually going to bring all the erudition and precision with them. That should be taken as given: if you want tight, in-depth treatment of weighty theological questions, what in heaven's name are you doing bopping around blogs for?

I think some people like to show off just how much they know. Well, I'm a reasonably smart person, but plenty of smart people don't have to carry all the facts and citations around in their heads--that's what books and such are for. If you ask me to look something up for you, I am pretty sure I could do it; but quote it from memory, in English, Latin or Greek? Nope, sorry. If you can, bully for you.

Now, I'm not faulting people who really can plumb the byzantine depths of particular subjects, only saying that most of the time, casually blogging, I am not equipt for that, so I try to stay out of those--I think I do, anyway. I think there's nothing wrong with attempting more summary discussions of the same subjects; after all, that sort of thing is far more helpful for most folks, anyway.

What irks me when this happens is that the nigglers and flea-combers shut down an otherwise useful discussion. Such happened, recently, in a thread on justification at The Cafeteria is Closed. One poster insisted on worrying a subtle aspect of "merit" the way a dog worries a bone, and I rose to the bait, for awhile.

I'm asking for trouble raising this here--except this is my blog, my rules. If the poster in question tries to pick up as he left off, that will be shut down immediately.

If someone wants to ask a question about justification, merit, grace, and ecumenism, fine; know that I'm going to answer with broad strokes, for no other reason than I can do that briefly; I simply lack the time to juggle the various source materials on my lap to frame extremely subtle answers, and if that's what you want, you came to the wrong place.

And know, "He who spouts the most esoteric rule, wins" ain't one of my blog's rules. I don't accept the premise that someone gets to set the terms of the counterpoint, simply by how one makes the point--i.e., your fancy claim doesn't mean I have to respond in equal, fancy measure. Sometimes, all it takes is to call b---s---.


Dad29 said...

If you want argumentation, go to FreeRepublic...

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Father, I went over to The Cafeteria is Closed. I am a former Protestant, I can tell you that in every denomination there is a different doctrine/opinion on this subject. There is also a different doctrine in every church of a said denomination. That is what poses a problem when you start with Catholic vs. Protestant. This could go on for days and days. In fact this is one reason that got me interested in the Catholic Church, who had the truth! I can tell you easily the Roman Catholic Church does. There are people who know they are going to heaven but Mother Teresa was not. When I was told this I decided not to get into these discussions.

dutch said...

You can always go to DEAD HORSES in and argue nuances all day long.

I just come here to read up about a priest.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to you, Fr. Fox, for refusing to whicker & bicker with the nitpicker. As a person with a theology degree who enjoys discussing religious faith, I affirm what you say about all that historic or legalistic data not being in the forefront of one's mind at all times. At least it isn't in mine. As to looking it up in order to beat a point to death, why bother? Can't rational folks discuss religion with others of varying opinion without acting obnoxious, hostile, and rude?
Nitpickers and one-uppers with the quotes & the prooftexts abound on most forums and blogs. They seem compelled to try to gain attention by carping about ambiguities or obscurities, hoping to demonstrate that their knowledge is superior to that of others.
The Catholic church seems especially riddled with these types, sad to say. Puh-leeze! Let's try to moderate the centuries-old judgmental attitudes which make RCs seem so odd to calmer folks. Tolerance and respect are better ways to convince non-Catholics that we are Christians too.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I got banned from Free Republic -- first post I made!

It's possible you will find it, if you look for a post by "Septimus," from about 13 months ago or so, I believe; but I will tell you what happened...

I signed up, and seeing how they were mainly (so I thought) talking politics, I offered my thoughts on President Bush: critical thoughts, from the right. I was critical of Bush, and complained about conservatives who follow "lemming-like" after him.

Well, you cannot imagine the fury that was unleashed! I certainly never expected it! When I attempted to respond, I found out I was banned! Oh well...

Orange_Cross said...

If things should be painted in broad strokes, I don't see any reason for critical translation or consideration of scripture. Wouldn't reliance on personal inspiration be the best course in faith?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Orange Cross:

I was referring to the thoughts I post here or on other blogs. I think attempting "critical translation or consideration of scripture" in blog posts would be a grave misuse of my limited time. Further, I see no reason to try to reproduce, in a blog, what is readily available elsewhere in commentaries and other sources.

Orange_Cross said...

Well, if you're familiar with the tools and can point people in the right direction why not do it. Don't put yourself out though, I'm sure you have plenty of saved people to exalt the most high with.

And from reading that Cafeteria post, sounds like you were pointing people to the Cathechism and recommending they read the whole thing to get the big picture. That's good stuff.

Thanks for posting.

Orange_Cross said...


What do you recommend to reference for the oral tradition?

Anonymous said...

One of these days I may learn to shut my mouth and stay out of comboxes. I thought you handled yourself respectfully.

There comes a time when we have to just "let it go." No matter what you say, you'll be misundertood.

BTW-great point about the albino assasin:)