Well, I'm back.
First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to those of you who have sent me messages of encouragement and kindness "behind the scenes," so to speak. All of your emails, phone calls, etc. were very, very much appreciated. I know that I have a terrific set of regular readers and commenters, and I'm extremely grateful for that fact.
Which brings me to my second point: I've been disturbed a few times lately, culminating in the thread below a recent post, by the incursion of some newer and mainly anonymous commenters who seem to be generating more heat than light. Some of you in contacting me privately admitted that my comment boxes aren't friendly places, that in trying to maintain an atmosphere of free, easy conversation I've unwittingly made my blog a place where a few verbal bullies can shout down everyone else--while technically not violating my rules regarding civility or against obscenity. And that bothers me, because I'd rather have more of my regular readers feel as though they can chime in without having to worry that they or their ideas are going to be attacked or ridiculed by those whose facility with writing is such that they can disguise an attack as a merely rational question or point.
But knowing that this is the case, I have to address it. And though I've avoided making this particular decision for a long, long time, I think the time has come for me to implement moderated comments--which is the biggest change you will see in the days ahead.
I've got to be honest, here. I hate moderated comments. They seem to stifle conversation; they put commenters at the mercy of the blogger's often-varied schedule; they can create misunderstandings of the "why didn't you approve my perfectly innocent comment?" variety, and they can be a headache for both the blogger and his or her readers in a host of other ways.
However, I've reached the point in my blogging life where I just can't see a way around this. I want this blog to be a place where most readers feel perfectly safe in leaving comments, and that can't happen so long as verbal bullies can show up and leave drive-by postings which I may not see for hours. Even when someone has really crossed the line, and I delete his or her comment, the original commenter to whom they were responding may already have seen it, have been hurt by it, and possibly even wondered why on earth I let the hurtful comment stand. My only other option would be to ban all anonymous comments--and yet some of my most valued readers and commenters technically post "anonymously," though they are courteous enough to sign a name or nickname to each comment so we know to whom we're talking. So that option is out, as far as I'm concerned.
Moderated comments it is, then. I ask all of you for patience as I implement this major change.
There are a few minor changes as well. The most important of those is that I've taken the nearly-unprecedented step of deleting the post that caused all the trouble last week (I think I've only deleted a post once or twice before, and that was back in early blogging days when I just wasn't satisfied with something, long before I had regular readers and commenters). There's just no reason to leave it up right now. In future when I post anything at all about chastity, virtue, or sexual morality, I will remember that few people, including few self-described Christians, actually believe in any of those concepts any more, and will either leave comments closed or stay out of any combox battles that develop. I'm just going to have to take a Matthew 7:6 approach to discussions of chastity and sexual morality in the future.
I'm also deleting and rearranging some sidebar items (which won't matter to those of you who read this blog in a reader). There's no special reason for that; I'm just in a clutter-purging mood in my real life and it's carried over to the blog. My pledge not to vote for Republicans (I already don't vote for Democrats), my link to the big Legion post, etc. can still be found by searching my blog, but I have far too many items in my sidebar these days (and some, like the countdown clock for the new Mass translation, are, blessedly, out of date!).
Another minor change is that blogging may occasionally be a bit more sporadic and less news-driven than it has been in the past. While I still find myself most comfortable with a five-day posting schedule, there are times when I run out of time in a day and feel as though I should choose between tossing up a post anyway, regardless of quality, or skipping it altogether--and sometimes skipping it is clearly the better option. :)
Blogging will be especially sporadic, and possibly non-existent, during Christmas week, though as always I reserve the right to change my mind about that.
One final thing: at this time I formally place this blog, and all who enter to read it, under the protection of St. Michael the Archangel:
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Comments--moderated--are open again.