Sometimes, you think you'd like to be in a certain circle...until you see what happens within it. And then you thank God you weren't really in there in the first place.
For awhile, I could have been called a "professional Catholic": I made my living doing work that directly connected to the Church, was designed to support the Church, and enlightened people about where the Church stood on things...or at least where some predominant Church minds tended to stand on things. I didn't mind the work that I did--for what it was. I edited nonfiction trade and devotional books, books that I considered to be, on the whole, pretty worthwhile and informative reads.
For while, I also thought it would be really, really neat to be a recognized "Catholic blogger." (After all, a bunch of them got invited to Rome a couple of months ago--great work if you can get it. :-)) In this wonderful medium of electronic communication, with the gift of words God has given me, surely that'd be an outstanding way to serve my Church as well...even after my other "professional Catholic" job ended.
But there's a problem with that status.
Nowadays, being a "professional Catholic" has gained the additional obligation (at least seemingly in most of the "professional" minds) of "engaging the marketplace." In other words, "professional Catholics"--among them many Catholic bloggers--are, more or less, expected to be journalists. And pundits. And, sometimes, activists.
Unfortunately, that much power and prestige...has not been a good idea in some hands. And the result looks bad on all of us.
For those of you unfamiliar with the reasons I say this, Google the name "Father John Corapi."
This man was unashamedly aligned with the teaching Magisterium of the Church...and had a colorful enough past (and present) that he wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade. He frequently called bishops out for doctrinal nonsense and/or heretical behavior--something that probably didn't make him any friends at the USCCB, I'm sure. (Which to me is a point in his favor, not the other way around. :-) ) But for 20 years, this faithful priest taught solid Catholic catechism, devotion to Mary, the power of prayer--especially the Rosary--and a host of other good Catholic Church belief that many of us have been starving for in parishes that seemingly have reduced Catholicism to social justice, "be nice to each other," and butterflies and rainbows.
So of course...someone had to silence him. And someone did.
The particulars of this case are still not all clear, but you can Google the name and get enough of the gist of what's gone on around this man to wonder about him and the Church he loves. (As in the old quote from the saint, "If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them.") What's pertinent to this post, however, is the role that "professional Catholics" have played in supporting this man, praying for him, assuming he's innocent until proven guilty, or any of the other things they urge us as Catholic Christians to extend to our fellow human beings as part of following Jesus.
Except they haven't. Indeed..."ravening wolves" got nothin' on these folks.
I have rarely seen vitriol from the secular press any worse than some of what Catholic bloggers are heaping upon this man for what he's opting to do at this point. I have seldom seen the level of judgmentalism, Phariseeism, and holier-than-thou crap thrown around--even in such well-known anti-Catholic papers as the New York Times--as I've seen from some so-called fellow "Catholics" out there, in some places I used to trust for faithful discourse on faith issues. I didn't always agree with some of them, but at least I could see where they were coming from.
Unfortunately, now I can, too. And where they're coming from...I don't want to be.
So I'm thankful at this point that my heart has led me away from "engaging the markeplace"--if what I'm seeing from these people is a result of doing so. And I'm thankful that, as a result of my dwelling on storytelling and other parable-like activity to the exclusion of dealing in current events...I will probably never be taken seriously enough as a "Catholic blogger" to even be on the radar of "professional Catholics" out there.
Frankly, from where I sit now, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be.