Tuesday, May 23, 2023

An Excellent Post on Grounds for Catholic Optimism

 From the always-interesting Some Definite Service Blog.

There's certainly much to be pondered there. Reading it, I realized how little I speculate on how things are going to go in the future.

I think part of this is the fruit of experience. In my own short lifetime, I have seen history take so many twists and turns that I no longer have confidence in my own ability to guess what's around the next corner.

Some examples of things that surprised me:


The election of Donald Trump.

The reversal of Roe vs. Wade.

The election and pontificate of Pope Francis.

The surprisingly successful resistance of the Ukraine against a Russian invasion (I expected them to crumble in a day or so).

The complete evaporation of the New Atheist movement, which seemed so daunting at one time.

I'm sure I could think of many more, if I really put my mind to it. Suffice it to say that things have not at all unfolded the way I expected in my late teens.

Linking to this blog post brings me to another question that's been troubling me for a while. Since this blog is titled Irish Papist, why do I have so few explicitly religious blog posts?

The answer is that I find it harder and harder to say anything that I feel adds to what my audience knows already. I must admit that I have rather the same reaction to (in all honesty) most Catholic writing at this point. Very often I find myself thinking: "Boilerplate, boilerplate, boilerplate."

It seems to me that the Faith is, essentially, very simple. I'm scared of overcomplicating it. I'm also scared of representing my own hobby-horses as part of Catholicism, which is a very easy trap to fall into. (I even think about taking down some of my old posts, for this reason.)

I also think that there's far too much opinion in Catholic writing, and far too little knowledge. I have been trying to add to the sum of knowledge in my articles on converts for St. Martin's Magazine, and my articles on great Irish priests for Ireland's Own.

My blog is more a place for writing at random. I hope that just writing from a Catholic perspective makes it a Catholic blog, and gives it some value.


  1. Thank you for linking to my article — I'm very glad you liked it! I don't claim to be an oracle, of course; I'm only suggesting a few areas where we might see new fruit. I agree with the wisdom of not straining at predicting the future; you're quite right about history's twists and turns.

    I realise that I come to this blog more for company, if that's the right way to put it, than hard catechesis or commentary. I just like spending time here. I like the homely, companiable mood that your writing creates. It's an approach I have tried to emulate in my own writing. I NEVER find myself thinking 'boilerplate'! (Please don't take down any of your old posts!)

    1. Thanks for those kind words; I am very glad that you find this blog to have a "homely, companionable mood". I aim for that! And I'm honoured that you would seek to emulate it. I also find your blog very hospitable to my sensibilities!

      For what it's worth, I think all this is very legitimate. We hear so much about "filter bubbles" and "echo chambers", but anyone who is alienated from the whole woke, cynical, ironic etc. zeitgeist spends the vast amount of time breathing poisonous air. It seems reasonable to seek a relief from this occasionally.