Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why We are All Irrelevant Scrubs

The following message is hard to hear, but it is something that needs to be said.  The blogopshere is abuzz with the issue of Anti-Semitism in traditionalist circles since Dawn Eden helped the issue go viral amongst the Catholic blogosphere.  Some wish that more prominent voices would get involved in this, and that traditionalists all over would see what a problem Anti-Semitism is in their circles.

I feel the approach that many are taking right now is flawed, and it stems from the fact that they suffer from an information disadvantage.  Allow me to explain.

When I say information disadvantage, I mean that we lack certain knowledge that others have.  We don't lack it because we are close-minded.  We lack it because we live in a bubble.  This happens in politics all the time, where someone is surprised that evil creep won an election when everyone they knew voted otherwise.  Traditionalists had this problem with the Mandatum issue.  They were horrified over the Pope "setting aside" a liturgical law.  To most Catholics, even Orthodox ones, they didn't know such a law even existed, or why it exists.  To try to explain the subtleties of laws to people who aren't even aware they are laws, you will just look like a fool.  Should they know?  Yes.  Yet they don't, and you gotta deal with that.  

So, you are asking, how does this relate to the problem of Anti-Semitism and traditionalists?  I'm so glad you asked!

When confronted by such vile Anti-Semitism, many traditionalists have acted with horror and revulsion, condemning the words.  Yet we also remind people that this kind of stuff is a minority within the traditionalist movement, and it is virtually non-existent in most parishes.  In short, what you see on the Internet is not representative of the whole.  The current response to this has been..... to point out nasty things people are saying on the Internet.

Why is this a problem?  Those who write and read blogs are a pretty small minority of the overall Catholic population.  They tend to be highly motivated individuals who take their beliefs seriously, for better or worse.  The majority of traditionalists and Catholics in general are blissfully ignorant of this entire dustup.  Even the most known of Catholic personalities online are probably only known by maybe 5% of the Catholic population.  An even smaller number of that 5% actually read them on a regular basis.  The kind of problems the blogosphere deals with are not the problems that exist in the majority of parishes or that we experience.

It is for that reason I disagree with one point of Simcha Fischer's otherwise excellent work.  Outside of the nonsense I run into online, I haven't encountered any Anti-Semitism.  Since the majority of Catholics (including traditionalists) don't really spend much time on trad blogs, I can say with confidence that the idea that "If you're a traditionalist and you hang out with other traditionalists, then sooner or later, you will run into Anti-Semitism" is actually a load of crap, and only someone who is a blogger would make that statement.  I know that I've migrated between 3 different traditionalist communities over a decade, and Anti-Semitism wasn't in one of them.  My experience is also what a lot of traditionalists are trying to say.  So we are lucky that it isn't in our neighborhood.

That isn't to say this is all much ado about nothing.  No, the problem is real.  Even if it exists in just a few corners of the Internet, it can have a lot of far-reaching conclusions.  That small bit of Anti-Semitism can damage our ability to witness.  Furthermore, we want those people on the Internet who read blogs.  They take things passionately, and they are serious about our beliefs.  Like any movement, traditionalists can use more serious individuals.  Yet they aren't going to give us a second look if they don't see that we really and truly oppose this crap.

If we are wondering what we can do to make others stand up, we need to do more to show that this kind of stuff actually has an impact, and the damage it creates is real, because to the majority of Catholics, they look at us the same way.  We really are a bunch of irrelevant scrubs who are talking about issues they have no clue about.  Such a message isn't appealing to the ego, yet if you want to be an effective witness, the first thing you need to do is tell your ego to knock it off.


  1. Here is how this looks from someone who actually attends an EF parish.

    Well-meaning Catholic bloggers find a hornet’s nest (extremists) on the Internet who seemingly hold “traditionalist” views. Catholic bloggers kick the nest and then scream to any and all Traditionalists, “Hey, you guys have some extremists here that are making you look bad.” Traditionalists admit, “Sure, there are kooks everywhere but they don’t represent us. We make sure those sort of folk don’t infest our parishes in the real world. That’s why they have retreated to the corners of the Internet. Leave them alone and they will just die off. We don’t take them seriously. In fact, I don’t think anyone does but themselves. We’d much rather concentrate on our faith and discuss things that we can work on together as Catholics to further the Kingdom of God.” Catholic bloggers then proceed to kick the hornet’s nest repeatedly and scream, “Hey, you guys have some extremists here that are making you look bad.” Traditionalists point out the futility in such actions but are told by the well-meaning Catholic bloggers that either they do something of the Catholic bloggers will be obliged to do so.

    I think these Catholic bloggers would do well to go out and actually get to know more Catholics at EF parishes. They have nothing to lose. All I ask is they don’t bring the “hornets” with them. We don’t tolerate them in our parishes.

  2. What I find interesting is that when Dawn was being attacked for her (pointed and correct) criticism of Christopher West, it was Mark Shea who made a plea for both sides to "relax." But if a traditionalist suggest that Shea or one of his fellow travelers tone down the anti-traditionalist rhetoric, we're feeling sorry for ourselves (yes, he did say this to me) and accusing him of being "divisive" (I don't know who he's quoting, but it must be someone since he puts it in quotes).

  3. DCS

    First off, good to see you again! Stop bein a stranger. But yeah, I agree with you. It's a lovely double standard.


    Agree on all but one part, and I think then it was only a difference in wording we would use. I wouldn't say "leave them alone and they will die off." There are many ways to engage an issue. The question is how we do it. If we are just going to go off feeding the trolls online, then that's going to cause a lot of controversy, everyone's blogs get tons of traffic, a few people get published, and everyone feels good..... but the chances of things getting fixed are slim to none.

    Now if traditionalists start applying their knowledge and gifts to how we can better increase tolerance for the Jewish people (and all for that matter), why Catholicism has a special place for Jews (protip, round the end of days, we believe the majority will acknowledge Christ!), why even though they are the elder brother who fell away, they are still our brother, etc. Finally, how tolerance with an emphasis on helping them to see the Messiah originally promised to them is the height of charity, but in order to do that, we need to seek not to offend them shamelessly.

    I think traditionalists need to do a far better job at evangelizing the Church about the importance of the things we advocate so that all can benefit (for the things we love are not our personal playground but gifts for all to enjoy), but also towards bringing people towards that Church. This is just one way we need to improve that.

    That's not sexy though. You can't comprise it in a blog post. You can't tweet about it. I for one reject the entire idea that traditionalists should dance to the strings of others, solving problems to their satisfaction, unless of course that person be a bishop who has that authority.

  4. Yes, we do agree.

    My comments on really limited to the Hornet’s Nest MO by some Catholic bloggers for the VIRTUAL world. At the end of the day, you have to pick your battles and be smart enough to know where your efforts will or will not be useful. But as it stands now, I grow tired of the constant, “Hey, you guys need to control your hornets” when they aren’t my hornets, it isn’t my “nest” nor are they on my land. I don’t know them and don’t want to know them. All I can point out is that if you keep knocking their nest, they will get riled up and come out to sting you. You’ll be sore and nothing will be accomplished. So stop asking me to affirm to you that they are indeed extremists everytime you choose to get them worked up.

    As to the rest of your point. Spot on. Working towards that goal in my parish presently. That's were the real action is, out in the community. :)


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