First, a brief "housekeeping" announcement: anonymous commenting has been enabled again. I will be watching comments to make sure that trolls don't once again infect the blog, but I'm reasonably sure that things will be okay, and I dislike making my regular commenters jump through hoops to be able to post comments on this blog.
I don't want to pick on this particular blogger; this post is the first of hers I've read (hat tip: Mark Shea). But I've been puzzling over it all day, and have finally decided to write about my puzzlement. Ordinarily I would do this by going through the blogger's post and pointing out specific areas where I disagree; but, like I said, this is the first time I've ever read this particular blog, and I'd rather not take so focused an approach to discuss something that really is more a vague uneasiness than a direct disagreement. The blogger seems to be saying (and I'll be more than happy to correct this if my brief synopsis is not at all what she intends) that it does us no particular good as Christians to write and speak and act against such things as abortion, gay "marriage," the death penalty, etc. (I'm sure she would add war and torture and other hot-button issues that we Catholic bloggers tend to write about); and it does us no particular good as Christians to get into liturgical discussions with each other (and, again, here if she's saying we shouldn't be having liturgical wars I have no problem, but she seems to be saying that even discussing liturgy is a waste of our Christian time). We should be working instead on being a follower of Christ, on standing with the unborn and Death Row inmate and...er, um, Latin Mass devotee?...by converting our hearts, going to Mass and Confession, and working on rooting out our own personal sins.
So: being a follower of Christ by praying and working and living our vocations, going to Mass and Confession, and tackling the sins and problems of our own lives in order to give our hearts more completely to Him is good. But--being a follower of Christ by doing those things and also working to end abortion (via activism or education or volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers--or only via activism? It's not clear in the post) or to stand against gay "marriage" and for the preservation of the family or to work to hold the Church's teaching on the death penalty in its merciful fullness in your heart or to develop a true love for both of the liturgies of the Roman Rite and to be excited, perhaps, about the coming new translation that is a huge step in the right direction...that's somehow bad?
I'm not sure that I get this.
A Christianity that does not transform people, help them turn away from their sins and selfishness and pettiness, create saints out of sinners, and so forth would certainly not be a true following of Christ. But a Christianity that says nothing to the prevailing culture of death, recreational sex, injustice, poverty of matter and of spirit--is that a true following of Christ?
I can understand a call for greater civility in how we address each other (both online and in real life). I can understand a call for compassion, for kindness, for meeting people where they are--I try, imperfectly, to do that here on this blog and in my encounters with my fellow human beings.
What I cannot understand is a call for silence.
Silence in the face of our own sufferings and tribulations--sure, although the joy of being part of a community of believers is that we can also ask for prayers from our fellow Christians, and these prayers can strengthen and uplift us in the midst of the most serious of trials. If, however, we choose to be silent about our crosses, we can look to Christ as our model.
But silence in the face of the sufferings of others? Of the innocent? Of the poor? Of the people caught up in adultery or fornication or homosexuality, especially the ones who want desperately to hear a message that is counter-cultural and hopeful and truthful? Of people involved in lesser ills, but still ills, things that are roadblocks in the path that follows Christ--who may not, themselves, realize that they are held back in this way?
I wish to share a personal experience here, but I don't wish to cause the person concerned any embarrassment. So the references are oblique; I apologize. Someone I knew was involved in something the Church does not permit. I found out by accident--I would never have looked for the information. So I discussed the matter with my husband, and prayed, and then offered the person the information about this thing that this person was associated with.
I was prepared for pushback, hostility, indifference--I thought I was prepared for anything. But I was not prepared for the person's actual response.
This person immediately, completely, even joyfully eradicated the problematic association from this person's life. This person thanked me for the information with a sincere heart and a faithful Catholic outlook. My own reaction was humble gratitude that God would have allowed me to witness what the true Christian response to this sort of thing ought to be--especially given my own deep deficiencies, most notable when I resisted for so long the idea that Catholics ought not to approve of torture (a different issue, but a similar sort of thing, really).
What if I had remained silent? What if I had not offered, in love and with prayer, this information I had to my friend? What if I had convinced myself that doing so would somehow have been "un-Christian" instead of knowing it to be the thing I had to do? If God had held this person I refer to accountable for the association, how much more would I have been accountable, knowing what I did in truth know?
Again, I understand, and sympathize with, calls for civility, for avoiding any grandstanding, for steering clear of rhetoric that is deliberately inflammatory and that disrespects the people to whom it is addressed. I understand it, even though I sometimes fail in this area, for which I have many regrets.
But I don't understand calls for silence in the face of our culture's pervasive and perverted evils. I will never believe that the Christian response to societal ills is to shut up about them. Perhaps that reveals my own sinfulness--or perhaps silence is not the only proper response of a Christian to the evils of our age.