Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Why Blog

Mark Shea had a nice article in the most recent issue of Crisis on blogging, St Blogs Parish, and Catholic blogs in general. One thing that he seemed to be implying though is that blogs are primarily an alternative news source for the major media outlets. While this is true to some extent, I don't think that is the only purpose for a blog; it is not my purpose anyway.

I take my example from my father-in-law who was a life long newspaperman and writer. In the late '70s he and I (and a few other folks) started a weekly newspaper in El Paso. The idea was that in a weekly format the truth behind the headlines could be explored more deeply. The paper could at least attempt to answer the question "Why?" instead of just "who?" and "what?" While the paper was something of a critical success (I wrote only one article for it, a restaurant review, of all things, and can take no credit for that) it was hardly a financial success and finally folded. However, I think the principle is important.

Most of the major scandals today have one thing in common -- they stem from a failure to ask the question "Why?" They stem from a failure to ask why we should follow the teaching of the Catholic Church.

You could ask, for example, why is it important to understand that there is such a thing as objective truth? Just ask the now resigned editors of the New York Times. As World magazine pointed out this week, if you reject the notion of objective truth, why should you be surprised that your newspaper publishes fiction? For that matter, why should you care, what difference does it make? For the New York Times the distinction between fact and fiction became blurred, at best, and thus Jason Blair could get away for several years with plagiarism, made up stories, and who knows what, with no one the wiser. What is even more disturbing is that people about whom he wrote stories and who knew that his "facts" were made up did not protest. They simply accepted that stories in the New York Times could not be expected to be true!

Or you could ask, as the theology faculty at Georgetown University seems to wonder, why the Church teaches that homosexuality and other sexual perversions are gravely sinful. What harm could living the homosexual "lifestyle" be? Just ask certain Catholic bishops across the country. They know first hand the harm that can be done, and are still suffering the consequences.

Protestant friends have expressed their condolences to me in the past year over the situation in the Church. I don't think condolences are necessary. I think the situation that surfaced early last year is a perfect example, not of a failure in the Church, but of what happens when we fail to follow Church teachings.

You could also ask "why do we need a magisterium making authoritative pronouncements and trying to repress our God-given freedom?" Just ask the members of my former Presbyterian denomination. The Presbyterian Church USA is currently losing members at the rate of 35,000 per year over the issue of the ordination of homosexuals. Cut loose from any authoritative magisterium they are forced to determine church teaching by majority vote. This solution is one doomed to failure, since truth can never be determined by vote. It seems likely that the PCUSA (aptly named, by the way) will soon pass from the scene, the victim of an inability to accept the Magisterium of the Church.

The crucial "why?" question that hardly anyone asks these days is "why does the Church teach the things she does?" Society, and the Georgetown theology department, simply seems to assume it is because the Church is mean spirited and wishes to be "hurtful" to those who do not conform to her harsh and judgmental norms. If these folks were to ask the question and honestly try to come up with an answer, they would find out that it is because the Church wishes to protect us from harm. The Church understands that we are creatures of God created in His image; we are "designed" to operate in certain ways by our designer. When we fail to do so we can expect problems to arise, as we can see all around us.

My purpose for this blog has been to attempt on my part to understand why it is important to know what the Church teaches about us as human beings. It should be obvious that what we believe affects what we are. Too often today the secular-materialist worldview of society is unquestioningly accepted as valid; until more people ask why we should believe this, and then take action to answer the question honestly, we should not be surprised that more, and greater, scandals come to dominate our headlines.

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