Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Old Idea Dusted Off

Some years back, I had an idea for a conservative group blog. (I thought of myself more as a 'conservative' back then than I do now. I think of myself more as a 'traditionalist' now. 'Conservative' just means too many things-- many of which I oppose furiously.)

One gentleman very obligingly set up this blog, but I hadn't done enough legwork and it died a death after a few posts. It was my bad (a modern phrase that I like...very vivid and simple!)

(The Comely Maidens was a tongue-in-cheek title, a phrase taken from a famous or infamous speech by former Irish President Eamon De Valera.)

I still think, however, that an Irish Catholic blog (or perhaps even a 'small-o' orthodox Christian blog) would be a good idea, much like What's Wrong With the World in America.

Today I attended a meeting of the Irish Hilaire Belloc Society, and realized again what a joy it is to have serious conversation with like-minded people, and how easy it is to forget that there are like-minded people out there.

These are the benefits I see in a group blog:

1) It would be a barometer for Irish Catholic/Christian opinion and reaction. That is, it would be the first place internet surfers would go to see how conservative/orthodox Catholics or Christians are reacting to news stories or events in Ireland-- not only Church news, but general current affairs or even TV shows or movies or sporting events. There is nothing like this right now.

Hopefully, it would attract not only believers but also agnostics and atheists, liberals and leftists and socialists, and people of every spiritual and political and philosophical bent, curious to see what the conservative Christians are saying. Hopefully, if the blog was well-written and well-informed and courteous in tone, it would challenge some stereotypes.

2) There are lots of Irish Christian blogs but they tend to be very idiosyncratic-- my own especially. A group blog that was more like an online magazine, that would be edited, that would have articles of a reasonable length (not too long, but not too short either), and that would strive to attract the general reader would be a worthwhile venture.

3) It wouldn't be in competition with individual blogs, but would be a portal towards them.

Here is my vision of the group blog:

1) It would be ecumenical, open to Christians of every denomination-- but Christians who are orthodox adherents of their own denomination. I can even imagine it being open to sympathetic non-Christian and non-believing writers, in exceptional cases. I am thinking of something similar to the American First Things magazine and website.

2) It would be broad in subject matter. It would include politics, Church matters, social comment, humour, poetry, photography, and material of every sort.

3) It would be edited, and by more than one editor.

4) It would be attractive to look at, and not take too long to load. (I've noticed that many Catholic blogs have such a baroque love of pictures and ornament that this can be a problem.) It would need the services of someone who knew about website design.

5) It wouldn't be a rush-job. This is something that would require preparation and coordination.

6) Most importantly, it would not be tribalistic. I get a little depressed when I see how much Irish conservative Christian writing, in print and online, is simply a matter of 'stirring up the troops'. There's a place for that, but there's too much of it. I think there would be enormous value in writing by conservative Irish Chritians that would actually speak to outsiders-- by which I mean liberal Catholics, lapsed Catholics, atheists, agnostics, liberals, socialists, libertarians and others.

My dearest hope would be that those who do not share our views could read this site and come away thinking, "I don't agree, but it's well put and well-written." And-- who knows-- they might even come away agreeing.

And what better title for this blog than St. Patrick's Blog-- which doesn't seem to be taken yet?

I don't know if this is a runner. I'm just putting it out there.


  1. I think that your idea for a traditional Christian blog - I, too, prefer traditional to conservative - is a good one. People of faith often feel isolated and need the support of fellow believers. The only potential difficulty I see with the idea as outlined is that there are, regrettably, quite a number of significant doctrinal differences between Christians who are orthodox adherents to their own denominations; especially so between Catholics and other Christians. Also, many Protestant denominations would not share the Catholic view on marriage and the family. Would such a blog present a unified picture of Christendom? If the blog were to be for committed Christians of all denominations, it would have to focus on those things which are shared in common, but avoid the issues which divide. This may be possible, but I am not sure. Would it not be preferable to keep the remit Catholic? - although, I can appreciate why you would wish to have as broad an appeal as possible.

  2. I don't think presenting a unified picture of Christendom would necessarily be a good thing. Everybody knows Christendom is not, unfortunately (and scandalously), unified. But Christians tend to gloss over this by not discussing the differences at all, which I don't think helps. The whole point of this blog would be that everything could be discussed in a calm and respectful manner.

    I just don't see the point in having so many publications, TV shows, and websites where Catholics are talking to themselves. It's like arguing into thin air, to a great degree. (I don't apply this criticism to informative and educational material, but most Christian writing is not like this.)

    To return to my example of First Things-- this is a publication that features writings from every denomination of Christianity, from Mormons, from Jews and from Muslims. And yet it's not watered-down or politically correct at all, and it has high intellectual and cultural standards. I think that kind of publication is very valuable.

  3. Well-written and courteous in tone. Well, that's me out. So is the group blog being run by Christians of different denominations, or did you mean it's being run by orthodox Christians, but is aimed at other Christians? Sounds like an interesting idea.

  4. I don't think you should rule yourself out so soon! By 'orthodox' I meant small-o orthodox. Of course, this doesn't exist yet, and I have no idea if it ever will. It's certainly not on my immediate 'to-do' list.

  5. Oh I know it doesn't exist yet. It would be good if it did get up and running. Ha ha I'm an awful writer so that would rule me out. Actually I feel a bit rude because I was joking about the idea of me writing at all. I feel like I've just invited myself in now.

    Oh I forgot, how did that other blog fail because of you? It says the person running it is someone called Bronagh.

  6. I think you're being hard on yourself. If this blog did get up and running, it would be great if you sent in an article to it.

    I feel responsible for the failure of the first blog because I suggested it but never really followed through. It's true the chap who set it up 'jumped the gun' a little. The tone and format wasn't really what I was thinking of. But I do feel (a little bit) bad that he put that effort into it in vain. (I assume he was using a female pseudonym.)