Acts of Dissidence
A recent article in Newsweek credits disaffection with the mainstream media as one of the initial driving forces behind the blogging trend. “A-list” blogs, defined as those who have daily readerships in the tens of thousands, include many dissident conservative voices who have been shut out in the pages of the NY Times and the Washington Post, but who have a point of view that deserves a forum.
Blogging is positive because, fundamentally, it is a movement back toward the literary. It is a movement that is based on writing well to connect, and on reading thoughtfully to understand. The best blogs are erudite, informative, and of course, fun. Part of the fun is their very unmediated quality. Blogs are un-processed, un-edited, un-excused, bald-faced opinions. Main stream media discredit them for these reasons, and it is worthwhile to read many of the blogs with a virtual grain of salt, but the best bloggers, seeing themselves as the alternative to mainstream media, take it as a mater of pride to get their stories and their sources straight.
Barbara Nicolosi teaches screenwriting to aspiring Catholic writers at the acclaimed Act One: Writing for Hollywood. You may email her at [email protected].
What's A Blog, You Ask?
Thankfully, however, we are now seeing the rise of a positive movement on the World Wide Web, that will go far to balance out the negatives. The Internet has gotten much smarter lately, and it has everything to do with the phenomena known as blogging. Particularly Catholic bloggers have formed an ever-expanding “cyber-parish” that unites believers across time zones and regions in a celebration and exploration of what we believe, and what it means in our lives.
“Blog” is shorthand for “web log.” For those of us techno-illiterates, a blog is an Internet journal that can be updated with ease and published on the Web for a readership of hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands. A “Blog ring” is a group of blogs on similar topics which link back and forth to each other, debating, agreeing, affirming and denying. One of the most active hosts, blogger.com reported recently that during the summer of 2002 1.5 new blogs were created every minute.
Many blogs amount to personal daily — or even hourly! — diaries of average people who relate experiences and insights sometimes profound and sometimes stultifyingly banal. There are blogs and blog rings about politics, pets, poetry and parenting. There are Tom Hanks blogs and Wall Street blogs and Wisconsin blogs and square-foot gardening blogs. “It’s a way for anybody with anything to say, to say it,” says Rebecca Blood, author of The Weblog Handbook.
You Can Blog
The Catholic blog ring, known affectionately as St. Blog’s Parish, is one of the most organized and thriving regions of the Internet subdivision known as the Blogosphere. There are blogs on spirituality, theology, morality and the signs of the times. Many of the most successful contemporary Catholic writers maintain blogs, which allows a level of access to these thinkers that would have been impossible before the Internet.
Surfing the Catholic blogs is my new favorite past-time, and it has done wonders to restore my joy and hope in these crisis days in the Church. I am always delighted and amazed at the depth, scholarship and gritty humor still out there in the People of God, probably because we hear so little of it in the preaching in our churches. In an age in which clinging to “organized religion” is popularly reckoned to be for the brain-dead, St. Blog’s Parish has reminded me how smart our faith is. The ultimate source of lasting community is not found only in physical proximity — or else we would find community in every line at the grocery store. Community comes when people cleave together to the same Truth. The Catholic Blogosphere seems to me to be all about that cleaving. It’s a good thing.
Here are just a few:
Catholic and Enjoying It (by CE Senior Content Editor Mark Shea)
In Between Naps (by CE columnist Amy Welborn)
A Catholic Blog for Lovers (by writer Gerard Serafin)
Catholic Choir (by musician Jim Schultz)
In Formation (by seminarian Steve Mattson)
Dappled Things (by parish priest, Fr. Jim Tucker)
The Cranky Professor (by Medievalist scholar Michael C. Tinkler)
CLOG – A Blog on Canon law (by Peter Vere, JCL)