Friday, April 14, 2006

An In-Line Catholic's view of Online Catholics

Hey, everybody, someone’s finally left a comment of more than a few syllables! My thanks to Tony, who left the following comment on my article re Rocket Science and the Priesthood Shortage:

Dear David,

No doubt your blog attracts others like myself who are open to diversity and good arguments. What a pity you choose to indulge in petty inacurracy.

Readers of this blog should be aware that David's comments about Online Catholics web are both misleading and mischevious. Online Catholics is a subscription service. True. But then again every Diocesan newspaper in this country (except for maybe The Southern Cross in Adelaide) is a subscription service or needs to be purchased. Does David wish to suggest that these publications are also "in-house discussion between progressives, because no self-respecting conservative would fork out the cash"?

Readers might be surprised to know that Online Catholics also offers a parish subscription service which allows access to the web by quite a number of people, not all of whom sit comfortably in David's paradigm of lefties.

So, let's be a bit more honest with our comments David. BTW, I seem to be the only person interested in engaging with you in here. But at least your blog led me to the elusive Credo. Thanks

Tony

Yes, you are right, Tony, I don't get many readers engaging with my blogs; sad, isn't it? But I know from my site meter that I get several serious readers every day (ie. People who stay for more than a minute).

Thank you for your comment, though. I am a bit naughty saying cheeky things like that about Online Catholics. I admit my comments were mischevious, but I don't know about "misleading". You have to admit that the editorial policy and the general content of Online Catholics does not reflect a policy or content which could be said to “think with the Church”. Around the Church, against the Church, under the Church, through the Church, but not really “with” the Church. Sorry, I’m being naughty again.

You can see what Online Catholics has to say about itself on their “About us” page. When you read phrases such as “including the renewal of Church governance and structures and participation by the faithful”, you know that you are in “Wir sind Kirche” territory. These are not guys who subscribe to the old dictum “Roma locuta est, cause finita est”. Shoot me, but I am (I’ll blog a bit more about that separately). There’s no getting around the fact that, however much Online Catholics seeks “to reflect the diversity of Church life and views” and “the rich texture of the Catholic heritage”, it is in fact a leading forum in Australia for dissent from the Magisterium.

They also state that they wish to promote controversy, albeit in “intelligently” and “in a spirit of faith, reason and generosity”. For the most part Online Catholics achieves this, but I have long ago lost a taste for “controversy” for its own sake. In the end it simply doesn’t build up the Church in the way that good, old fashioned loyalty and faithfulness does. We are, after all, called “the Faithful”.

And on the matter of charging a subscription to read the content of Online Catholics. Print media needs to charge subscription for the sake of the very high costs of producing hard-copy journals. Even still, I am able to read most of the journals for free in my local Catholic library, or borrow one from a mate, or read the single parish copy. Other online journals, such as The Tablet, First Things, and National Catholic Reporter, usually have either a significant amount of their online content available for free, or, like First Things, make back copies available for no cost.

There is a principle involved here. If you believe that what you publish is really for the good of the Church, and that the Church needs to have access to your content, you will make that content available for the widest possible audience at the lowest possible inconvenience to the reader (subscriptions are an inconvenience, IMHO). I applaud Online Catholics for making one article available from each issue. I would suggest they go a step further and take a leaf out of First Things book, by making back issues available on the web for free.

It can’t really cost that much to run an online journal, can it?

2 Comments:

At Tuesday, April 18, 2006 11:13:00 pm , Blogger David Withun said...

Thought I'd let myself be known since you mentioned those anonymous readers who don't comment. I've been reading your blog for a while now and have very much enjoyed it. Keep up the great work!

David

 
At Friday, April 21, 2006 6:14:00 pm , Blogger Arabella-m said...

I'm another regular, usually anonymous, reader and agree with David Withun's comment 'Keep up the good work!'
I have been a fan of yours since reading your paper "Seeking an alternative ecumenism: Thomas Oden and JPII". This experience of ecumenism matches my own.
For those interested the paper is available online: http://www.melbourne.catholic.org.au/eic/pdf/art-seekalternatecum-schutz.pdf

Arabella,
from rural Victoria.

 

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