I’m just finding out about a battle happening between Mark Shea and Fr. Peter West that has others in the Catholic blogosphere concerned.
Over the past few days, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, who is a Vice President of Missions for the organization Human Life International, founded by Father Paul Marx OSB, has been taking a familiar internet apostle, Mark Shea, to task for engaging in character assassination, legitimizing homosexual attitudes and being deceitful. Now it seems that some professional lay Catholics have gotten Church authorities involved.
The reason I am just finding out about it is that I don’t generally read the Catholic blogs. I do consider Mark Shea to be a friend, though I disagree with him on a lot of things. We go way back. Because I consider him to be a friend, it pains me to see him going through an ordeal, whether he is right or wrong on the matter.
I agree with The BodyGuard who blogs on the Theology of the Body, and it is probably because his blog is about the Theology of the Body that he “gets” this part about social media:
You cannot always reason with another soul, Christian to Christian, when they too have been intoxicated by their own prideful ego and intellect (and while you are likewise still more or less drunk with your own).
And so I lived through days of seeking to sober up, so to speak, which weren’t always progressive or easy. I hoped that by reaching out to those who had publicly attacked and belittled me (and whom I likewise had treated similarly), we could make Christian peace, by meeting face to face to resolve our differences.
Of course, there’s private email when face to face meetings can’t be worked out.
And while I naively assumed that if one Christian requests this of another, the Christian “code” would require that person to step up and meet with you, I learned something else—if the soul of one’s “opponent” (brother in Christ) does not also go through some form of blogospheric “detox,” they’ll never ever see the value of the mutual self-humbling that permits two Christian brothers to reconcile.
This sort of thing takes a real grasp of the Theology of the Body to understand, I think. In a nutshell, social media can have the same effect on people that condoms do, if not used properly.
In other words, Christian forgiveness and reconciliation takes two. Duh. So instead, what transpired in my experience was a deeper entrenchment and antagonism of a brother in Christ still-drunk on the stinking fumes of the disembodied “new media”. And here’s a TOB theme after all—without the “body” to communicate the “person”, all this electronic typing at a keyboard is necessarily not fully personal. Hence the desire to meet face to face (body to body) in *person*, to achieve reconciliation between persons. After all, I don’t need to reconcile with my computer, I need to reconcile with you.
But any willingness to do so threatens the very existence of the depersonalized communication that we new-media Catholics now find so intoxicating. So, don’t be too disappointed if, as in my case, it doesn’t exactly work out well.
Read the whole thing.