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.
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 say...it 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, well...so 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....