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Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

This post is going to offend people, I'm afraid, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Active Avoidance

It's Saturday, I'm busy cleaning because my family is coming today, and of course...I should be studying, which is why I'm doing everything BUT study. Ah, that is the nature of the student!

Most grad students (and some undergrads) I know report that while they were in school, their homes have NEVER been cleaner. When sitting down with a difficult tome and prospect of an intimidating paper, that spot on the carpet that has been there for YEARS suddenly becomes a major distraction. One must make it go away as soon as possible and by all necessary means!

Ok, moving on to other thoughts now:

"Preach the Gospel - If Necessary Use Words" BLAH! MYTHOLOGY!

I have a t-shirt I purchased a few years ago sporting a San Damiano cross on the front and the caption, attributed to St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel. If Necessary, Use Words."

It's a nice sentiment, but I only wear the shirt if I run out of other t-shirts or can cover it up. Why? Because St. Francis never said it and I don't want to be part of perpetuating a lie.

In fact, St. Francis was KNOWN for his fiery preaching! The man did NOT mince words, and not only did he preach conversion in no uncertain terms, he lived the gospel he preached and expected others to follow that example. Not his example specifically, but the example of Christ. Yes, St. Francis did indeed lead others to live his same life (The Franciscans, anyone?), but he was NOT one to say "if necessary, use words." He COUNTED on words, just as he counted on the importance of LIVING those words out in daily life.

"Singing is Praying Twice"

Thankfully I don't have the above on a t-shirt, but if it's even possible, that mythological quote is another one that makes me cringe. St. Augustine never said that.

A few years ago I was in on an interview committee trying to hire a music director for a youth choir, and part of the job did involve a certain amount of theological formation. The applicant came out with the above quote, and let's just didn't help his case.

The use of a mythological quote to support one's "qualifications" and elevating said quote to the status of fact actually leads one to realize that said applicant actually has never READ the Saint.

St. Augustine DID write, "Singing belongs to one who loves." and he wrote, "For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyously; he who sings praise, is not only singing, but also loving Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation in the praise of someone who is confession/acknowledging God, in the song of the lover there is deep love." (Corpus Christianorum Latinorum vol. 39)

(note: I have this in a printed sheet from an article written by the famous Fr. Z.)

Nowhere did St. Augustine ANYWHERE write "he who sings prays twice." Please stop perpetuating the myth that he did.

Do promote singing well
Do promote praying well.
Please promote doing both together at the same time in situations that call for it.

But please stop with the myths. Thank you.

Passing On Advice to All Bloggers

Not long after I began my blog, back when I didn't have many followers, I was invited to a local blog gathering (and think another one is due.)

I'm not sure if any of my readers are familiar with Dan Lacey of Faith Mouse, but he was one of the locals who attended that inaugural gathering.

He'd been involved in blogging and various forums for a long time, and was often deeply involved in online discussions with people of other religious or non-religious beliefs. I found his perspective to be very helpful as I continued in what I consider to be my own little apostolate in my tiny corner of the internet.

At the time, I think I was already doing what he advised, but what he said underscored the importance of continuing it and the REASONS for doing so!

I think it's something most bloggers grasp, but some don't, and others perhaps don't have the time.

Here is what Mr. Lacey advised me, and which I pass on to you:

Every commenter deserves a response. They come by your blog, and given the millions out there, they happened upon YOURS and found something YOU said worthy of their time to fully read it and comment upon it.

Out of respect for them, they are owed a reply.

Bloggers should take the time to reply to EVERYONE who leaves a comment, whether you think they will be back or not. A simple response can make all the difference to someone, maybe for reasons known only to them and to God.

I haven't quoted Mr. Lacey as I can't remember his exact words, but the above was the gist of what he said.

Over the last few years, I have seen this bourne out several times, and I admit that I judge other bloggers by this standard as well. Maybe it's unfair. I don't know. But you who have been in the world of blogging awhile, whether as commenters or bloggers or both, think about your own experience and share your opinion on this.

For myself, I do try to respond to every comment. Yes, some get missed sometimes, and some don't seem to be looking for a reply, just adding their two cents. But I do try to respond to new commenters and respectful anonymous comments (although now I do ask anons to write some kid of name to ID themselves.) I've even responded to obvious trolls, against my better judgment.

I once received an email from someone who didn't want to make a public comment on what she had to say, but said one of the reasons she follows my blog was the fact that I took time to respond to people, to interact with them. I was amazed, because, really, I often thought that it didn't matter to anyone but to those to whom I responded. I never considered it would matter to a random observer.

What she said made me think. I follow some bloggers who DON'T respond to comments, either mine or anyone else's.

This may be totally unfair, but when I see that this is the practice of the blogger, to allow comments but never respond to them, I eventually wander away. Those who don't respond seem to be uninterested in interaction or discussion, so why bother wasting my time commenting there when I can go elsewhere? If someone just wants to put his or her words out there and receive comments but not engage, what does that really contribute to the blogging community? Seems they're out for themselves only.

I think it's fine that people want to share their thoughts, but, those of you who don't care to respond should close comments so that your readers don't waste their time. Most of us can't just hang out reading blogs all day and would prefer to leave our comments somewhere where we won't be wasting either your time or ours. It's courtesy.

And, yes, in case any are wondering, I do read blogs that don't allow comments. At times I've quoted them and linked to them! (Those I continue to follow actually state somewhere why they don't respond to comments or why they closed comments. Their explanation is key in getting rid of the perception of arrogance.)

Conversely, I tend to avoid commenting on the really popular celebrity blogs. Amy Welborne, Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, etc. While I appreciate what they write, the list of hundreds of comments is overwhelming and I'd rather not be part of a gaggle. Even if I think I have something to say, did those 200 other commenters. Never mind. I'll just read the article and treat it as I would a newspaper, thanks. There's no point and no real interaction. And I don't care to comment just to "be seen."

So, to my blogging compadres, what is YOUR practice, and what is YOUR opinion on non-replies, who do you decide to follow and does their interaction make a difference to you?

There are probably a lot of different angles to this. I'd be interested in hearing yours. Although I may not have a comment for each in turn...please don't take offense.

Sometimes a blogger has to just sit back and listen....



Angela M. said...

Guilty as charged! I don't often respond to commentors. I am goint to try harder to do so.

Adoro said...

You do respond enough, though, that you engage with them. I can't always respond and there are some that are hanging. It's more a commentary on the habit of the blogger...whether more likely to respond...or just ignore.

You don't ignore!

Nicola C said...

Hi Adoro,

I don't blog myself, mostly because I don't know that I have anything to say that would be new, or interesting. Although at times I think it would help me to work out what I really think about something.

As to the comments, to repeat what I said on Plurk I also drift away from blogs where comments seem to be ignored, I rarely comment myself, but still,it shows a sense of responsibility for what you write which is very important. Too many people use the relative anonymity of the internet to post outrageous things and then turn their backs on the repercussions.

(Nikki8D on Plurk)

Jeff Miller said...

As far as mistaken quotes go I have some that annoy me besides the ones you listed.

For example Teresa of Avila never wrote a poem called "Christ has no body", annoying since it is usually used by those of dubious orthodoxy. Whoever wrote the actual poem makes some valid points, but Christ does have a body right now.

In the same way the St. Francis quote is used in such a way as to deny the type of preaching he did. It is not an either/or situation of living the Gospel or preaching it vocally. Like so much in the Church Both/And please.

Adrienne said...

I try most of the time to respond to comments. Sometimes I get busy and don't get to all of them but they are usually long-time commentors and understand.

Most of my new commentors, if they have a blog and have posted their email, get a thank you email . It takes time but I really like to do it.

If I go to a new blog and they never respond to my comments (after a few chances), I usually don't go back.

I apologized to Dan Riehl (RiehlWorld)once in an email for not commenting more often on his blog and his answer was, "not to worry. I never felt comments on a blog was the best way to communicate." Makes sense.

My statcounter tells me who visits and it's nice to know folks are showing up and reading. Comments are just an extra...

Hidden One said...

I appreciate responses - a lack of response inclines me to drift away.

That said, I do read Fr. Z (and comment, usually aiming at fellow commenters), but even he, especially now that the comment counts have been reduced, will respond at times to comments. I've even had, at times, the dubious (dis)honour of finding red lettering on my comments. That said, after over a year of commenting off and on on his blog, when he instituted the users-only policy, I believe that I was one of few, at the very least, who was able to register (and without delay) without giving, name-wise, anything more than initials.

My own blogging efforts have never had much commenting, but the stuff I let through moderation usually gets a response.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

I usually respond to every comment. I don't expect bloggers to comment on everything I post in comments on their blogs but I find I tend to not follow as closely those bloggers that don't "engage".

Yes, a big local blognic would be nice, but, hey I can hardly get together with only YOU these days,sweetie!

YOur Franciscan Frined in NE said...

Clarification.. I can't prove or disprove the quote was by Francis. But I can say that on more than one occasion, he asked a fellow monk to accompany him into town to preach ... and they only walked through the town, never saying a word. When Brother Leo questione him, he said something at least similar to the quote in discussion here... That a religious in habit IS a sermon.

Maureen said...

But how do you think of anything to respond to responses?

If I was any good at conversation, I wouldn't be a blogger. I'd be into the "social media" and IRC chat, stuff like that.

If I don't respond, it means either that I agree or that I don't have anything further to say. Why would anyone take it as ignoring?

pennyante said...

Singing is praying twice: I actually never heard this saying attributed to anybody. I think it stands on its own as a truism.

I like it and I think it expresses exactly how I feel when I sing in our choir...

Warren said...

I didn't know that St. Francis quote was apocryphal. Apparently the closest thing he actually said was, according to an internet source:

In Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, Francis told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.

Like the St. Augustine case, I believe someone crystallized a thought that originated with St. Francis (in a particular context) and made a catchy maxim out of it.

Surely some scholar will track its origins. It is Franciscan in nature, and is a good saying, but not from St. Francis, it seems.


Karinann said...

Thanks for the blogging tip. As I am not yet a year old blogger, I still am learning blogger etiquette. I will try to do better in the responding to comments.
Thanks too for the clarification of saintly quotes, I just used that mythological quote of St. Francis yesterday in a post~ will go back to edit.

Adoro said...

I'm so tempted to simply walk away from this post and not respond at all... ;-)

But I won't! :-)

Great comments, everyone. As I warned, I really can't respond to each in turn, but have to respond to a few.

Jeff ~ That quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila drives me nuts, too. In total agreement with you

Adrienne ~ the problem with stats is that it doesn't prove anyone is actually reading anything. Comments DO! But of course, there are many who read and never comment.

Cathy ~ Well, if we don't start planning our next gathering, well, it'll NEVER happen, will it? Unfair to say we can never get together when you spring something on me the day before! lol Seems to me you tend to be harder to find than I am!

Franciscan Friend ~ Agreed, but the story about the habit isn't the quote stated above, is it? It's a totally different thing. (And you know how I feel about habits...)

Maureen ~ Everyone has their own tone, but some people NEED to have a response. I admit sometimes I have no idea what to say to someone, but by the way they word something, I can tell they are looking for SOME kind of response. There are others who simply don't care whether someone responds or not. The point that was made to me is that we don't know who those people are so it's best to respond in some way. So I try.

Pennyante ~ Seriously, you've never heard that quote attributed to St. Augustine before? Wow, I see that quote EVERYWHERE, can't get AWAY from it! He DID make a comment about singing WELL, but the actual phrase escapes me.

Warren ~ Yes, St. Francis was all about actually living what they preached, and even if they couldn't the Gospel. And you and I both believe this even today. It's when we fail to live it that we call it "sin". (And why I should live in the Confessional, actually....)

Karinann ~ Hmm...didn't see that quote there! Don't let this post guilt-trip you! Each blogger has to figure out on their own what works, and, again...I don't always respond, either. Maybe I read a comment but don't have that moment to respond. And then I forget about it.

Before I moderated comments older than 2 weeks, sometimes I'd get comments on really old stuff...and never even SAW them; I simply wasn't notified of the comment. And some of those people have burned me and accused me of ignoring them. (I have noted it's always an anonymous troll who does this, though. Not legit commenters.)

Ah...this world of cyberspace...we are all learning. A new etiquette is forming.

Terry Nelson said...

Guilty - I often do not respond to comments, especially if they are argumentative - I guess I think I took enough time expressing my opinion in the post and I just let the reader respond as he or she wishes.

I always respond to questions or when someone is really confused, or when someone is offering a correction to what I wrote.

By not responding I do not mean to snub anyone - but from now on I'll try to acknowledge comments from people.

BTW - when I leave a comment on someone else's blog, I rarely go back to check for a response. I just express my opinion and move on.

I deliberately close comments on some posts because I do not want anyone's opinion, approval or objection.

I especially do not respond to praise or aprobation since I fear the effects of flattery and the self-satisfaction and complacency such sentiments engender in me.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I reply when I have the time to reply back...

I always thought that the "use words if necessary" part was the editing of a few things St. Francis said to his Friars...

And for St. Augustine, I think the Latin translated "He who sings WELL prays twice" or something like that.

Though I have to admit I do get humor out of the many things St. Francis is quoted as saying or doing.

Adoro said...

Joe ~ There is a phrase, "bis orat qui bene cantat" He who sings WELL prays twice." The point is...St. Augustine NEVER said it!

He did apparently write "Singing belongs to one who loves" but that's as close as he got.

That's the point.

pennyante said...

Adoro, let me clarify... I HAVE heard the quote about singing and praying many many times. What I have NOT seen, is the quote being attributed to anyone...

No need to respond to this one... :)


LarryD said...

Adoro - you make a salient point on blogiquette (like that word? I just I made it up - or maybe it was St Francis :-) ). I need to do a better job on responding to commenters. But like Terry said - sometimes if the commenter is argumentative, I tend to avoid carrying on an argument just for the sake of an argument.

LarryD said...

One other thing - I think it's good, when possible, to thank bloggers when they link to posts we've written. Sounds like common courtesy to me.

Adoro said...

LarryD ~ I'm with you and Terry...I will either delete or ignore an ignoramus out for argument and not actual discourse.

And I like your word! :-) I'm pretty sure St. Francis didn't invent it....

And thanks for bringing up another point...if I discover someone has linked to me, I do try to remember to thank them for the link! Unfortunately with all the different blog hosts, it's not always obvious, and blogger itself isn't accurate. I've discovered blogger links to me by pure happenstance...they didn't show up in my posts.

Given that, I'm not offended if someone doesn't thank ME for linking to them. I don't do it for thanks, of course, but to advance good material! :-)

Maria Raphael said...

Interesting point on the comments--guilty as charged, I guess. I've blogged for years on Livejournal, but the netiquette there is not to respond unless you're continuing the conversation, and most of the time I just take the point. But since my Catholic blog is NOT LJ, I didn't even think about replying to comments unless I had something important to add. (I agree with the earlier person who said s/he often didn't know what to say in response!)

So thanks for this post. I'll have to give this a try and see if this helps engage the few people who come by my little corner of the web.