Catholic News in the Blogosphere: "It's a Small World, After All"

At the risk of trying readers’ patience, I would like to raise a question about the Obama Dame controversy: Why is this news? I believe it was Richard Gaillardetz who wrote several years ago about the tendency on the Internet toward the online establishment of an ad hoc magisterium, preoccupied with making sure that, on behalf of the web-reading public, No Magisterial Utterance Is Left Behind.

In the online conversations regarding this recent controversy, and more generally in the broader online bloggish Catholic newsy conversations in the last few years, I’ve noticed a mirror image of that preoccupation with Magisterium: a seemingly insatiable appetite (whether in celebration or denunciation) for news of the doings of prelates.

I have never met Rocco Palmo, but it seems as if "Whispers in the Loggia" sets the pace for what counts as conversations of moment about Catholicism online. I admire and marvel at the sweat, discretion, and savvy it must take to do the kind of reporting he does. Yet, when I read "Whispers," or see "Whispers"-like preoccupations (which prelates said what about whom, with what effects--and often, wearing what?) in Catholic conversations online, I am reminded of nothing so much as the myriad celebrity gossip and critique sites which are the bloggish analogue to these Catholic preoccupations. Cardinal so-and-so as the Catholic Paris Hilton.

I know, I know: if we in the blogosphere didn’t worry about these things, who would? But I wonder if we do so at the expense of forgetting that going online with Catholic news and criticism not only affords an opportunity for "reportage" and "commentary" on an already-extant and presumably predefined Catholic world, consisting disproportionately of the doings of prelates, but also affords an utterly new occasion for the decentralization of what counts as Catholic news, reportage, and comment. The Catholic newso/blogo/sphere can in this way make its own unique contribution to the emerging turn in ecclesiology toward an ethnographic consciousness, the view from below, the particular.

If a condemnation falls in Indiana and bloggers don’t respond, is it still a condemnation?

Tom Beaudoin

Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

7 years 11 months ago
Interesting. Who knew that America has a blog? I won't be reading it much, however, because I read blogs almost exclusively through RSS; since your RSS only publishes headlines, the headlines must be compelling enough for me to click through. If you offered a teaser paragraph, then that snippet would have to be compelling enough for me to click through.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

“My folks taught us that if someone is hungry, you feed them. That if someone is thirsty, you give them drink. If someone is a stranger you welcome them into your home.”
Michael O'LoughlinFebruary 27, 2017
Almost all major cities in the United States have experienced major decreases in violent crime over the past 25 years.
James T. KeaneFebruary 24, 2017
This is not a country at ease with itself, if it ever were. The United Kingdom continues to display more and more intolerance and anger.
David StewartFebruary 24, 2017

On St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate our Irish heritage and our good fortune to be Americans.

George J. MitchellFebruary 24, 2017