Tuesday, January 9, 2007

My Turn: Blogger Disputes Portrayal of Internet Gossip as sin --- The Catholic Spirit

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Blowing my own horn time. A letter to The Catholic Spirit got printed, much to my surprise.


15-rumors

I’m happy to see that your Internet presence has been recreated. Thank you. And your lead story in the Dec. 14 issue of the paper, dealing with 21st-century infractions of the Ten Commandments is a great idea.

Unfortunately, however, your reporter Chris Williams may be knowledgeable about the commandments and about gossip, but he is not particularly conversant in the nature of blogging as practiced by Catholics in Minnesota.

My blog, Stella Borealis Catholic Roundtable that has been active only since last March, attempts to keep track of the local blog scene in addition to news and yes, even gossip, from the local five state, 12 diocese region. While I don’t know everything about the local blog community, I dare say that nobody knows more than I about its nature.

Of the thousands of posts made this year by the 40 or more bloggers, not all currently active, in this area, Williams concentrated on two posts from many months ago that he finds fault with for being in error. He equated those errors as being sins against the Eighth Commandment.

One post dealt with the rumor that predicted that the Vatican would be appointing a coadjutor archbishop for St Paul-Minneapolis. Do political campaign experts get accused of sin when they make predictions, right or wrong, about the results of elections? Why would bloggers be sinning when they study and report on Vatican activities?

No sin in praying

The second post mentioned related to a scheduled event for the homosexual community where it was said that a Mass was going to be held for them. It turns out that this rumor originated with a wire service. The local blog community was instrumental in circulating the information that, in actuality, a prayer service was to be held for the local homosexual community. Is it a sin for them to pray?

In all actuality, the activities of the local Catholic blogging community rarely involve gossip. Each blog reflects the interests of its owners. Some blogs deal with humor, sometimes humor about politics and the church. Another couple of blogs are run by mothers who are interested in home schooling and their children. Some are run by college professors and teachers interested in their students and their subjects. And many are run by individuals who are mostly interested in their life journey struggling with and embracing the Catholic faith.

Your report seemed to be obsessed with gossip. I can understand that. I formerly worked at a company in downtown Minneapolis a couple of blocks from The Little Wagon, a bar with good food and drink that was a major league hangout for employees of the Star Tribune. When the conversation lagged at neighboring tables, it was not unusual for us to cock an ear and try to figure out who the Strib employees were talking about.

Searching for gossip

I’d bet that the same thing goes on with The Catholic Spirit. There probably are hangouts near their offices . . . where it would not be unusual to see Spirit reporters and perhaps even church employees huddled together over their malted milks, discussing the latest goings on in the archdiocese.

As a blogger who does attempt to cover local news, don’t be surprised to see me taking notes at the table next to yours someday. Of course, I’ll probably be wearing a false moustache and maybe a wig to cover my tonsure, so you won’t be sure if it is me or not.

But I’m certain that what I hear will be the truth because I don’t believe that those on holy missions would display evidence of rash judgment, or worse.

Ray Marshall, a member of the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, maintains the Stella Borealis Catholic Roundtable blog. Catholic Spirit

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