Moratorium

I was speaking with my spiritual adviser earlier as a result of which I will be having a short blogging moratorium.

There are a few reasons for this, firstly I have three essays due in on the 10th January, secondly I am beginning to hit the exhaustion phase of early pregnancy whereby every muscle aches and yearns for rest and I’m downing the lucozade tablets for much needed energy and to keep going. Looking after 3 young children on my own in the week means I don’t have time to sleep, combine that with University work and I’m shattered.

One very unpleasant commentator suggested I am a dreadful mother who neglects her children, given the blog, but I tend to do my blogging when they are in bed, plus, I am an extraordinarily fast typist. Rest assured my children do not lack their mother’s attention.

I am also involved in another short-term personal project, that I cannot divulge, but which is proving spiritually draining, however it already seems to be bearing much fruit and a worthwhile use of my time.

I don’t therefore have the emotional energy to continue taking the constant attacks from others, both my husband and my advisor noted that I can’t be fighting on all fronts and I need to concentrate on my current short-term goals and suggested that the work I am currently doing needs to be prioritised.

I received a number of emails of support following my last two posts, from Catholic supporters with influence beyond the blogosphere, from past and present pro-life parliamentarians, newspaper columnists and heads of various organisations. All of them praised my “courage”, but to me there seemed nothing intrinsically brave about tapping out my opinion. My husband warned that I might have a hard time, but I was taken aback by some of the vociferous comments, a few of which were unnerving in nature. Having been exhorted to “take down your post and walk away, your friends aren’t helping”, then told “there will be repercussions”, I had rather an unsettled night. I subsequently woke up to a comment implying that I was peddling “a sack full of lies, half-truths, outright deceit and spin concerning Catholic teaching”.

All of this rather proves my point about a culture of fear. It seems to be acceptable for John Smeaton to blog his outrageous opinions and pronouncements upon others but not for others to respond. A few of my supporters asked me not to publically name them, a wish that I will respect, because as they said, they need to be above reproach and not enmesh their organisations in a personal feud. To get involved they said, would be in exactly the same error as John; it would conflate their views with that of their organisation, whereas I have more freedom, blogging purely as a private individual.

This is the joy of the blogosphere’s lack of regulation, it is a great equaliser and means people can be called to account. Let me be clear, if any Catholic blogger had decided to deride myself or my colleagues, I would have been equally hurt, I may have challenged in the comments box, but would probably have left it. The reason why I have taken issue is because John Smeaton’s blog is in his official capacity as SPUC Director, there is no comment facility and it is taken authoritatively. As some of my commenters have noted, he has sometimes not represented the full picture or has jumped to false conclusions on issues, alienating many in the process and sowing dissent amongst natural allies.

This is why i believe the hierarchy aren’t as keen on blogs as we bloggers. We are not all in full possession of the facts, I was not party to the discussions or expert advice presented to the Bishops in terms of the Liverpool Care Pathway and Connexions so I have to trust their judgement. Though there is room to ask whether or not certain things are wise, what is unfair is to allege that the Bishops’ Conference is intent on pro-life dissent. If any individual Bishop was in pro-life dissent, then they’d be out on their ear. As some of my commentators note, we cannot comment on the sensationalist stories we see reported, not being party to all the facts and nor can we present this as evidence of anything and then turn our fury upon others, without looking very foolish.

What is in danger of happening at the moment is the blogosphere is in danger of turning in on itself and becoming an ugly spectacle which I do not want to be a part of. It is doing nothing for the Kingdom or Catholicism as a whole. It is why so many are so wary about the Internet as a medium. There is a danger of treating blogs or things we read on the net as truth and being unnecessarily scandalised. As a private individual I can only ever speak for myself and not, unlike others, in an official capacity which would lend misleading authority.

My advisor reminded me to remember humility, you may know you are right, but you don’t have to jump up and down to prove it, think of the patient monk who waits 7-10 years silently carrying on, before he is shown to have been right all along.

My husband says “the problem is Caroline is that you write very reasonable, rational posts and expect everyone else to behave the same way. We know human nature is flawed and sinful and not everyone will respond as you would wish and be convinced, so you have to accept there’s a lot of unpleasantness out there.” As he says, the irony about all of this, is that I am an orthodox faithful practicing Catholic, one who is happy to sign up to the Catechism in its entirety, therefore the animosity is unfounded. One only needs to look at some of the abuse I’ve taken for blogging on the key issues, to realise that.

The bloggers hold onto the fact that they are able to hold others to account and swiftly disseminate information. This is all I have done. Democracy demands that we are able to freely and openly discuss concerns without fear of “repercussions”. Apparently SPUC is a Limited Company. I can understand that it may not be able to be a charity because it might not be able to adequately meet the Charities Commission test of “public benefit”. To see the accounts a Companies House search of SPUC Pro-life Limited needs to be made. Of course being a Limited Company, raises questions like who are the shareholders, are the profits reinvested and is a dividend paid? I haven’t the energy to investigate further, but I would like to know more before I donate money or encourage others to.

Whatever SPUC’s alleged successes in the EU or UN, there is still no significant UK progress. Their projects may well be worth Catholic support, but why do they claim to be more worthy of support than others, especially when their leader is preoccupied with attacking Catholic leaders and upsetting prolific and influential supporters(it goes without saying I do not include myself in that)? Why should a Catholic support an organisation whose leader seems to sow dissent and who inspires a response that has made me fearful? If SPUC feel that the Catholic hierarchy are ignoring their concerns and are not as pro-life as they should be, then they need to look at the bigger picture. Why is there a lack of a coherent pro-life movement in this country, unable to hold anyone in check? Why are SPUC marginalised? Who do they have to blame?

As I said, I am going to post one more entry and then have a short moratorium whilst I concentrate on essay work and other things, but I don’t regret opening this up for debate.

Amongst all the to and fro, Tyler, came up with the following comment as a wonderful New Year’s Day gift. This is what makes blogging worthwhile, in a beautiful twist of fate, in delicious irony, it is an interlocutor or “troll” who has motivated me to continue. The Lord does move in mysterious ways.

I’m not going to lie. I came here to troll all over your site, as I had held you in a fair bit of contempt, after being directed here through an angry friend’s link. However, I was unprepared for the unusual and surprising quality of your reasoning and logic, which was far from the usual, “the face in the sky commands us to do A, B, and C, while prohibiting E, F, and G” sort of religious blog. Therefore, I apologize, and after thinking carefully about it, I also apologize for the trolling I would have done, had your blog been less impressive, as what I was going to do was rather ridiculous anyway since,to put it mildly, and to insult you would have been rather immature, regardless of what I found here.

In addition to this, I feel I must point out that I obviously do not agree with all that is written here. As I am not a Strong Catholic, this is unsurprising, but I am not so naive as to fail to realize that not all Catholics are drones, mirroring and reflecting the same precise beliefs, and I realize that your reasoning is constructed in a way that is open to debate (if one has suitable facts and satisfactory mental facilities to engage in a reasonable disagreement in the comments section), which is a significant factor in the quality of your posts, as you have clear substance in what you write. Thus, while our principles are not necessarily on par with each other, I believe the respect in your blogging rises above that, and presents itself as valid and important opinion, despite what my own beliefs are.

So, I hope you keep writing. Perhaps I do not hope that people will take what you say as the absolute truth but, perhaps, I hope that people will consider and weigh in on what you write. Because, honestly, the best argument is constructed with knowledge on something you don’t like, and your blog, at the absolute least, is an exemplary argument for anyone, religious or not.