Two thousand years of darkness

Apologies for the lack of recent output, I’ve been suffering from the all-too common bloggers’ block. Plus I’m a little on the tetchy side. I’m allowed to be. I’m 33 weeks pregnant, enormous,  sick, uncomfortable and consumed by lethargy.

For the last few days, I’ve been consumed by a rather ridiculous war of attrition on a baby forum. This has had something of a positive effect however, given that its helped me to form one of my Lenten resolutions. More of that shortly.

In the meantime, I’m going to link to this rather marvellous piece of advice, about how to behave when someone is wrong on the internet, courtesy of the National Catholic Register – h/t Peter Williams.  I have to confess to not always putting this into practice.

Forgive the self-indulgence, but I am going to post some choice nuggets, rather than link to the entire thread  in order to respect anonymity of posters, but I hope fellow ‘extremist’ Catholics and Christians might share both my amusement and frustration. The subject of the thread that caused such acrimony was a book that has been written which allegedly claims to “cure homosexuality”. My stance? Haven’t read the book, but generally I’m dubious as to whether or not these therapies may prove helpful. With that in mind, I have no issue with somebody who seeks to obtain psychological help or support in living a chaste lifestyle. So far so good. Problem arose when the inevitable “Catholic homophobia” was mentioned. I give you: (my words are in purple, I’ve allocated different colours to different contributers)

“God made man in his own image and I assume that meant his back end and his physical sexual urges too.”

“Being made in God’s image is not about our physical bodies, it is to do with a particular form of love, agape not eros and it’s about our capacity to reflect God’s love and his rationality. God is not a sexual being.” I don’t think you are in a position to honestly be able to say that actually! LOL!

“Natural law? Oh not this tripe again!?”

“Do you follow every aspect of the bible Caro? Letter for letter? Are there any parts you choose to ignore or interpret differently because it suits you? I don’t expect for one minute you have the guts to answer truthfully to this one but if there are parts you chose to ignore I would question why.”

You can’t even prove Jesus himself wasn’t gay/bi lets face it….

“How can you decide whether God is a sexual being? I mean who the hell are you to make a decision like that? He may be the essense of every orgasm for all you know.”

“Have you studied any theology or philosophy?” That’s irrelevent to what I am saying actually LOL!

“I don’t see why me having studied Patrology would be necessary. Its like reading a trashy paper… may be full of inaccuracies and ludicrous comparisions, contradictions and propaganda BUT that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an ounce of truth within its pages.”

“I see the natural law argument as hiding behind religion. Using it as a get out for obvious homophobia.”

Would you say this to an orthodox Muslim or Jew? Would you imply this of the Prophet?  Is it alright because I’m Christian/Catholic and you think you know enough about it to pass comment. Would you dare to attempt to define the Torah to a Jew or the Koran to a Muslim and tell them they’ve got it all wrong? “How dare you not allow me to believe Jesus could have been bi-sexual or gay. Why is your interpretation of the bible any more valid than mine? Because you have a big shiny badge that says Catholic on it? What have Muslims or Jews got to do with this debate?  I hold something you don’t. A deep rooted belief system coupled with an open mind and that is worth more than a million blessings from the Vatican. Shame you won’t qualify how you know for sure Jesus was a breast man and not into men or a bit of both as I was genuinely interested.”

“Much of ‘Heat’ magazine is eye-witness.  Still doesn’t mean it’s true/correct.”

“I think thats the problem Caro. You place weight on the scriptures and I don’t. No I am not calling any religion (Jew, Muslim, Catholic) homophobic nor am I saying they are not. I am talking about YOUR views alone. I think thats pretty obvious too. I remain open to any possibility about God/Gods/Energies/Spirits/all matters spiritual. I can’t and never will say one set of beliefs is nonsense or start demanding people back up what they are saying because people devote their life to doing that and still don’t manage it so what hope has a busy mum of 3 got on an Internet forum? Besides I don’t think I can in the same way I don’t feel you have proved anything more to me by this debate. There is more to religion than scripture and following the herd.”

Cue lots of out of context C&Ping from the Catechism, in an attempt to prove how “homophobic”, terrible and generally out of date it all is. Culminating in the following personal attack, based on the teaching around divorce, that someone fished out. I actually missed this post at the time, which is probably just as well, not having the emotional energy to respond.

“So you sinned during your first marriage then? Not trying to get personal here but it is very difficult when you proudly proclaim you live by these values (and you have listed some pretty life enveloping ideals to conform to lets not pretend otherwise) and then have a marriage annulled rather than face a divorce so you can save moral face. The sad thing is in doing so you have also made your child illegitimate. I totally understand why you may choose to ignore this paragraph but you have to see that from where I am sitting I find it difficult not to question your moral integrity when you offer yourself open to exactly that.”

Then quotes from that great Doctor of the Church who was baptised Catholic, Lady Gaga. She proves that I am not like any other Catholic. How my views, which are simply that I endorse and agree with the Catechsim, are most certainly NOT mainstream Catholic. Lots of difficulty, understandably with the language used by the Catechism.

“Using the word “disorder” for homosexuality is profoundly offensive IMO – intolerance towards gay people is still homophobia however much it is dressed up in fancy words.”

“why not just say you are homophobic and don’t agree with homosexuality. It would be quicker and easier than using careful words and quoting the bible.”

“I have learnt something from this thread. I have had it confirmed to me that the Catholic Church is outdated, bigotted, unkind and elitist. It is in dire need of dragging into the modern day or it WILL be left behind and eventually die a death. I suppose all the Catholics I know must be non-extremists ones. Thank god (pardon the pun) is all I can say!”

“My children attend a Catholic school and it’s plain that the version of Catholicism practicised by most of the parents is very pragmatic (the average number of children per family is between 1 and 2 – say no more wink). The proportion of unmarried/ divorced/ remarried parents is also very high.

What’s also interesting is that extremism in religion is also strongly associated with hypocrisy among leaders, who frequently fail to practice what they preach.”

And in regards to people calling you an extremist, I didn’t say that but I expect their definition of extremist would mean someone who put religion before all other things in their life, folllowing it so closely as to affect their personal choices and decisions and restrict their daily life even if it goes against the what is right for the individual or normal and healthy in the society in which they live. It also would probably include preaching about it strongly to people and believing it is the only right way to live.

So you get the general drift. Taking into account the advice from the National Catholic Register, I realised that it was pretty much time to stop, the fate of the Church does not rest on my shoulders alone and I was indeed getting very shaky. Some of the stuff was pretty nasty and personal, and one of my rules is that I endeavour not to enter into personal attacks, although I am guilty of sarcasm at times.

The entire encounter was unnecessarily vile and unpleasant, simply C&Ping it onto here reignited some of the hurt. Of course when one mentions hurt, one is instantly accused of “delicate flower acts” etc, but generally I think people only resort to personal attacks when they have lost the debate. Why have I re-hashed? Well, firstly, because I think it’s important to demonstrate some of the virilent and wilful anti-Catholic prejudice and misunderstanding that circulates amongst those who might consider themselves liberal. Secondly, it might help to arm or prepare those who do attempt to engage in apologetics and thirdly just to explain why I was in such a terrible mood.

The main reason is that it has inspired a Lenten resolution which is not to engage in any internet forum debating whatsoever. So the anti-Catholics on that site can have free reign to engage in whatever sectarian bias takes their fancy. I will not bite. What the thread has done is to inspire some topics for future blog entries, addressing many of the varied issues that were raised. Instead of wasting my life attempting to reason with the unreasonable, subjecting myself to personal abuse and at times unbelievable ignorance and narrow-mindedness (ironic given it was me being accused of this very thing) I am going to embark on a Lenten reading programme, and will blog any thoughts or insights instead, along with various topics raised. I often get chided for the length of my posts, which are necessarily detailed and explicit, going back to basics,  however here, my gaff, my rules, I can indulge at will.

I am due to give birth on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, therefore appropriately enough for me, my Lent will end with an act of suffering and self-sacrifice together with a renewal of life. Given how increasingly busy life is inevitably going to get, my plan is to get as much spiritually out of the Lenten season as I can, take the time to read, reflect and above all pray, not waste my emotional energy upon those who do not want to hear. I also intend to play an active role in the 40 days for life campaign.

My only sadness really is that my apologetics perhaps were not adequate enough, being criticised both in terms of lexicon and length.

Still the whole encounter reminded me of  that great evil vicar sketch from Mitchell & Webb which like all great comedy is based on more than a glimmer of observational humour. Though I’ve never looked at anyone eating biscuits from the vestry and thought “you b*tch”, I cannot help but have just a little sympathy with the vicar himself. He does actually have a very good point. If only he were just a bit nicer. .

“Spiritual?  Aren’t you all entitled to your half-arsed musings on the divine. You’ve thought about eternity for 25 minutes and think you’ve come to some interesting conclusions? I stand with 2,000 years of darkness and bafflement and hunger behind me. I couldn’t give a hap’nney jizz for your internet-assembled philosophy”

When I found myself thinking these very thoughts, I knew it was time to walk away.

35 thoughts on “Two thousand years of darkness

  1. Illegitimi non carborundum, Caroline! As a Protestant Apologist I have met once termed, it, com boxes are often just “IIAs” (“Internet Ignorance Aggregators”). Really no point feeding the trolls… Although we’re all tempted now and again.

    Thank for the HT, btw!

    X + 🙂

  2. Taking all those snippets out of context really won’t give your readers here an accurate picture of what was said. And we all know it’s all about context… and interpretation… 😉

    1. Well indeed. 😉 However I think the comments were an accurate flavour of the tone of debate and will indicate to other like-minded people quite why I was so frustrated,upset and amused in equal measure.

      1. I think the rest of us (the majority of us) took a much different flavour from the debate. I think it’s also very unfair to roll the majority of those comments that you have posted up there into “sectarian attacks”. They are (mostly) people who challenged aspects of your posts and questioned your logic, not attacks on your faith.

      2. Can I request to follow your blog? Have been doing so but it’s gone password protected. Thank You.

  3. Haven’t you heard of copyright? I am assuming you have written permission from all of these posters to replicate their comments which they intended to appear ONLY on a parenting forum and not on your blog?

    1. The terms & conditions of said website were checked before the post was made. No copyright rules have been broken.

      It is very clear that what is said on the Internet is public property and also subject to the laws regarding defamation.

      I have not named any individual poster, nor linked to the thread in order to preserve anonymity.

      However, if I wish to discuss and reflect upon some highly inaccurate and unkind remarks which have been flung my way, that is entirely my prerogative.

      Other comments about this may not be published, precisely to spare anonymity.

      Ultimately if one is going to make comments on a public forum, accessible by any google search and viewable by all members of the general public, then one needs to be aware of the highly visible and public nature of these comments.

      This is precisely why the site has strict guidelines and rules and advises user caution. The site has not been named or referred to and no views have been presented as being representative of that site.

      No official communications from the website have been reproduced either. No copyright has been breached.

      1. You ought to be ashamed of yourself Caroline, quoting people who had no intention of sharing their thoughts with your blog readership and holding up their views for public ridicule.

        You really are coming over as completely unhinged and I personally think taking a break from the internet is a good thing for all of us. Don’t rush back. I hear Mumsnet is very good these days.

      2. I would refer users to the explicit T&Cs of said website. I would also contend that it is others who ought to be ashamed at the personal nature of the attacks, not least with regards to attacks upon my personal character, moral integrity and indeed my children, as well as sectarian attacks upon the Catholic/Christian faith.

        I would respectfully contend that it is not myself who is unhinged and if I wish to verbally express my displeasure, then I am well within my rights to do so.

        All anonymity has been respected.

        I trust you are speaking in a personal capacity and thus not officially representing the site itself of which you are one of the moderators?

        If you are speaking in a professional capacity, then I shall delete all these comments, given that you make judgements upon my mental faculties, call my sanity into question and inform me that my presence on the website you represent is no longer welcome.

  4. you are clearly quite mental and need to stop doing this now. It’s boring and the only time anyone ever reads this rubbish blog, is when it’s linked on a discussion board, for us to laugh at you.

    1. I think my blog stats would tell a different story. Of course if you believe it is rubbish then I would suggest that you choose alternative reading matter.

      However if it “delights and entertains” to use the words of Sir Philip Sidney in his Defence of Poetry, even if the comment is meant in a derogatory fashion, then I consider my job well done. 🙂

  5. I’m stunned. Quite frankly stunned.

    How can you think that it’s ok to give a “general flavour” of the debate here, but accuse others of cherrypicking the best bits of other arguements to use to their own advantage?

    Either C&P the whole debate, without giving people’s names, or don’t “pick and choose” the bits that add grist to your mill.

    If you feel you have been unfairly treated, have the courage of your convictions and let your blog readers see the whole story and allow them to make up their own minds.
    Otherwise, I fear you will always stand accused of bias and dishonesty.

    1. I may just do that, however entire thread is very long and very boring in parts. It takes quite a bit of editing in terms of removing names, usernames etc and I don’t want to bore everyone to tears. 😉

      I am happy to let my contribution be seen, however my time is limited and my judgement last night was to pick those comments that gave an accurate reflection. My comments were never personal attacks and my theology and reasoning were sound.

      I believe that a link to the thread in its entirety may constitute a breach of T&Cs.

      I have nothing to hide and I believe that the amused response from others would be the same.

      Please remember this is my space, it is public, but it is my space and therefore its contents are entirely up to me, so long as they do not violate the law of the land.

      I find it interesting that there seems to be outrage as to the replication of these comments. How dare you repeat what is said? Surely if you want to say something on a public website, then you need to be aware of the public nature of it?

      1. Of course the contents are entirely up to you.
        However, please don’t bask in the smugness of feeling you have proved a point, when a/ you have admitted to C&P’ing the points that fit that viewpoint, and b/ you are appealing, in your own words, to a “like-minded audience”.

        There is a clear divide here, as shown by the original response to the topic and also the comments posted in response to your blog post.

        It is not enough to only take into account the “positive” replies as evidence that what you are saying is correct – as the saying goes, either don’t believe any of your reviews ( good or bad), or believe both – you can’t choose only to believe the good ones.

  6. Super you have proved how taking things out of context is a pointless exercise. I am glad you are pleased with your cutting and pasting efforts. They are great. Are you going to learn capital letters next?

    It doesn’t bother me personally one jot so crack on!

    1. Doesn’t actually both me either, I just read the comments and thought ‘yeah they had a point’ :-p

      Its just a shame croline wasn’t willing to offer her own comments up for public scrutiny. I know she will have a list of excuses on hand as to why she didn’t though.

  7. QUOTE: “I find it interesting that there seems to be outrage as to the replication of these comments. How dare you repeat what is said? Surely if you want to say something on a public website, then you need to be aware of the public nature of it?”

    A public website like facebook you mean?

    1. Well indeed. However there are also laws surrounding slander and defamation. I have slandered or defamed no-one with this post. Comments have been C&Ped which can be cross-referenced, if necessary to the parenting website. Any comments attributed to me would need to be cross-referenced to the original source of publication as well as verified as being factually correct. I do not have a FB account. Besides one would need to check FB privacy rules also. Just to clarify I have not engaged in defamation nor personally named any commenters without consent.

      1. So I take it you’ve removed Helens comments which she has asked you to several times?

      2. I have published her comments as she requested and apologised and explained misunderstanding.

        I haven’t seen a request from her to remove her comment, however if she asks me to, I will, along with her corresponding blog comments.

  8. I hope you put your time away from the internet to good use. Life is a balancing act and the internet is just one aspect of life. I have said to you previously that if a person holds strong views and expresses them in the way that you come across then people are going to get upset/ offended and that will result in people attacking you. I am not saying that it is right that they do, only when you view things in black and white those who can see other view points will be understandably upset by your stance.

    I do however find it comical that you are quick to complain that people who have never met you judge you/ offer opinions about you and yet that is exactly what you are doing on this blog! At the end of the day 90% of people you encounter online will never meet you in real life therefore your online persona is what people will judge.

    Hope you feel able to publish this reply.

  9. Caroline, this is what happens if you debate with people who aren’t very bright. Let this be a lesson to you.

    @Morag Peers Haven’t you heard of Fair Dealing? Probably not. Now stop making a fool of yourself and go and read a book.

  10. Ay oop, nothing like intelligent criticism, eh?

    My goddaughter (converted at the age of 24) says “I didn’t realise it was going to be like this! I can’t say anything in a discussion without someone saying “Well, you would say that, you’re a Catholic””


  11. @ betsy barebacking,your generalisations are truly shocking and unless you have someirrefutable proof of your opinions then i suggest you keep them to yourself for fear as coming across as being non too bright your self

  12. oh and i am fully aware that i missed a space out,my typing skills by no mean reflect my intelligence

  13. Why do you keep doing it Caro? When are you going to drop this insanity and go back to the lovely, funny, MODERATE Caro we once knew?

    Sad. 😦

    A break sounds like a very good idea. Maybe a break from all your back patters (who think they’re helping, poor things) would help too.

  14. I’m one of your Twitter followers & just decided to check out your blog & saw this post (amongst others) and wanted to comment. Nothing super insightful to say, just wanted to applaud you as a fellow Catholic for having the courage to stand up for your beliefs even when they proved unpopular, and for gracefully bowing out when it became obvious the conversation was not going to be productive.

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