Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Turn: Critics of Catholic Blogs Lack Fairness, Understanding of the Faith

I'm all for free speech. Long live the 4th Amendment! But I have to take a moment from the joys of Mommy-land to vent at some of the  comments I see in response to Catholic blogs about modern culture. A good debate enlightens all involved; however, a truly good debate follows rules of fair play and requires an adequate understanding of the subject matter, and enough reason to rebut it in a civil manner. The best "critics" are able to present both sides and build a solid case that merits consideration. But I don't see that. What I'm seeing most often lacks both fair play and a reasonable understanding of the subject matter.

For example, today I read a string of comments criticizing a Catholic blogger and declaring that she'd never get a tenured position in the field of sociology for implying a cause/effect relationship based on a correlation between the introduction of widespread contraception and the objectification of women. This feeble attempt to discredit her made me laugh out loud!  First, I doubt that was ever her intention. It was a BLOG. She was expressing an opinion.  Second, sociologists don't abide by scientific standards in all that they do, and much of what is presented as research is based on anecdotal or ethnographic accounts rather than statistical analysis or studies that can be repeated and proven by other scientists in a methodical way.

But I digress. For I must readily admit I am no expert in the field of sociology. I'll leave that to those with a grounding in this academic discipline, who are better able than I to question such research. What I am reacting to is the venomous rage I see in so many unfair comments aimed at anyone of faith who speaks out in a public way. It borders on hatred, and the irony is that many of these folks are the ones accusing us of "hate speech." While Americans claim to value "free speech" and "discourse," there is no room for differing opinions on subjects of sexual ethics, reproductive "rights," and gender identity, for example. It is as if saying certain behaviors are not compatible with one's faith is the same as saying we detest the individuals involved and would burn them alive if we could get away with it. We are painted as fear-mongers who promote hatred. While there have been those who have promoted hatred in the name of Christian faith, it is as unfair to say we are all bigots as it is to say those of alternate sexual identities are all child molesters (in fact, most of my friends who fall this category are wonderful, kind people in stable, committed relationships). They are not of my faith, so I do not have the same expectations for them as I do of those who share my faith. They are not called to the same life which I am called.  However, if they wish to be what a Catholic is, then change is needed. But that is true for all of us! Being a follower of Christ means taking up one's cross and pursuing virtue to heroic extremes. It is dying to our own self.  So for someone to say my faith is full of hatred because it is not compatible with their lifestyle is unfair and goes against all that has been achieved toward promoting fairness. It is akin to the oppressed becoming oppressors.

As Catholics, our call is not one of hatred. To be what we are called to is to give up our very lives (figuratively and in many cases literally) for love of Christ and neighbor, even those who hate us. It's a tall order. But the rewards we expect are worth the sacrifice. If we are in any way promoting hatred, unfairness, or cruelty, then we are not truly followers of Christ.