December 18, 2002

Minute Particulae has a nice essay here. The following short excerpt can't do it justice, so read the whole thing.

"The shortcuts require writers to take long strides to get to their point quickly, strides that lurch over subtleties and shades of meaning, oversimplifying or even obscuring the argument. The result is that issues get watered down and you end up with lukewarm, left-handed swashbuckling.

Or perhaps, more interestingly, these same smart, passionate, informed people simply won't bring out their finest points or most compelling arguments. It's a rather strange thing to claim, but I think it's true and I'm not sure why this happens. I don't mean some subsurface bias or prejudice that will undermine a person's credibility if it surfaces (e.g. Lott?). I mean hesitating to bring to bear the aspects of an issue that touch you most deeply and compel you privately."


Two things come to mind: first, many Catlicker bloggers are writing, basically, to other Catlicker bloggers. Thus they can take shortcuts, because they are "preaching to the converted"; they don't have to fully flesh out arguments because a serious Catholic is imbued with Catholic sensibilities. If I am in favor of something unusual in the Catholic blogging community, I realize I must defend it much more vigorously and completely. That said, in a multicultural land we live in, one can fully understand the splintering into groups and the increasing "huh?" that folks greet each other with. The dropping of the classics in college and the growth of the elective system, for example, has given everyone educations that vary wildly. So how can anyone really write to a large audience about anything other than base subjects? Even history is written no longer not by the victor, but by the aggrieved. If I believed everything in the black history curriculum, I might long for reparations too, despite their blatant unfairness. (This is not to suggest that history is unknowable, but that one should scrupulously attempt to remove slant from the writing of it - that we cannot achieve perfection in this area is no reason to give up. Fatalism seems rampant - biographers give in to their bias because they believe the subject and biographer to be wearers of masks, and thus the two-fold error means nothing can be known. So they add fictional characters, ala Edmund Morris's weak Dutch. But perhaps I digress...)

How interesting that Particulae's author detects a hesitancy in "bringing to bear the aspects of an issue that touch you most deeply and compel you privately."

Very true. We all like that ace up the sleeve. Break in case of emergency. I think that hesitancy might have two fathers. One is the fear that that part of the issue that touches you most deeply and with which you identify so deeply that it is you in some way, will be opened up to criticism or abuse that is tantamount to abuse of, well, you. A second father might be the fear that what you feel passionately about could be refuted, which begs a lack of faith.

Finally, as Particulae points out, there is that enigmatic scriptural warning about the casting of pearls before swine, which I assume can only be discerned under the guidance of the Spirit since there is also a call to "go out into the world and tell all nations" of the gospel. Perhaps it is mostly a warning in the tradition of St. Paul, in not giving those meat who still are drinking the breast milk.

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