Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Several events of the last week - most notably the exchange that I have had with Joseph Fromm and others - have made me think about name calling. Some questioned my quoting of Shakespeare in regard to Joe's writing; such critics feel that I am calling him a name. I don't know that this is quite true, for I am simply calling attention to the fact that he is a blogger in name only and that what he does is cut-and-paste the material written by others and post it to his website with some tag attached to it. On occasion he offers commentary, but generally it's just material cut and quoted to present whatever angle he wishes to highlight at that moment.

I will say, though, that Fromm has been a good sport. He doesn't devolve into ad hominem attacks and does exhibit a strength of character and a spirit of generosity that I very much appreciate. I wish he would engage a bit more, as I feel like I'm doing all of the talking, but at least he is not cruel.

The same, though, cannot be said for others.

Some of my students saw fit to post comments to Joseph's website. I wish they had not done this, although I do appreciate their efforts to 'defend' their teacher. No defense, students, is needed: in these matters, I'm something of the aggressor. Nevertheless, one of the comments posted reads (I quote it because it doesn't bother me in the slightest):



I re-post this comment for a simple reason: Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. See, those things that you learn in kindergarten really do come in handy!

What I appreciate most about the post is that it is done Anonymously. That is, there is some man or woman out there who is so convinced s/he knows me and is able to post such a comment, yet must hide behind a veil of secrecy. Such a person is so convinced of the truth that....darkness and anonymity are to be preferred to the light. 

Thank goodness for John's Gospel:

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:20-21)

Earlier in my life, I might have been really offended or embarrassed by this type of comment. Today, battle scarred and with an increasingly thick skin, I think it is simply a sad symptom of human sinfulness: rather than engaging a person, or asking him to clarify or explicate his beliefs, you simply launch a scurrilous personal attack. Don't address the ideas you dislike or the opinion with which you disagree...just label and then dismiss.

Persons who post things as I have listed are nothing more than fearful cowards. They think that by insinuation or intimidation they will silence those they scorn. They are bullies who are lashing out of a deep sense of insecurity and helplessness. They are deserving of pity and prayer, but little else.

I have, once in my blogging career, posted something anonymously and I regretted it. For that reason, it is my custom that if I am going to say anything, then I will sign my name to it and stand behind it. I simply cannot take seriously the comments made by cowards posting anonymously, although I am somewhat grateful that this particular comment has given me something to blog about after a few days of silence.

Sometimes, it is easy to forget that when you go to post something online in response to something you've read that there is another human being who will be reading it. We get so caught up in being able to respond immediately that we forget that what we say, and how we say it, carry consequences. Things that one would never dream of saying publicly become infinitely easier to post anonymously. Perhaps blogger should create a program that makes it so that you have to 're-affirm' one's decision to post a comment after an hour, giving people time to think about what was written and whether s/he wants it posted.


Anonymous said...

Note, however, that while Joe Fromm deletes comments he finds offensive, he does not delete a comment that calls you a flaming faggot.


Joseph Fromm said...

Dear Ryan,
The only comment that I have been taken a back with was your insinuation a few years ago that I was in league with the Dark Spirit. We are all by the nature of Original Sin in league with the Dark Spirit, even yourself. Bishop Fulton Sheen uses the term Black Grace, at one time in my life, I owned buckets of Black Grace. It was an absolute miracle that I found my Jesuit, he had a little pity on me and over the course of five years he showed me how to empty those buckets of Black Grace and fill them with Grace. When you made that comment I had a full understanding of what those words meant and thought that you used them a little cavalierly.
Now you describe my blogging style as,"what he does is cut-and-paste the material written by others and post it to his website with some tag attached to it" it is a fair description I guess? I purposely do not write original material, so that I do not commit detraction. My blog is some ways a clip service that allows a Jesuit to speak in his own words. I like to include pictures for the obvious effect of placing yourself in action described and bunch of links to help open up the content of meaning contained in the post. The blog also allows me to continue my self education, it is also my journal of where I saw God today, a means of meditation and self evaluation/examination.
Since an aspect of the blog is news and event driven, it can be controversial, however this is why people visit the blog, to see what is happening in the most exciting and dynamic order in the Church.
I can get caught up in the Jesuit hero's of the past because, wow! inspiration extraordinaire! With Weston being one of my favorites. I love reading and sharing about the SE. It is my opinion that Jesus gives the Jesuits some of the hardest, toughest and best jobs, for example Jesuits were the Spiritual Directors to St Margaret Mary and St. Faustina. The Church now has the spiritual powerhouses of The Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy.

I have to give you some credit you have written some 800 all original posts and you also have been blogging for nearly 8 years, not an easy feat. The Internet is littered with mothballed Jesuit blogs. Some of your posts make me cringe, others well like the "cystic fibrosis" post give me a chuckle.
It is important that we do not loose sight of the fact that our work must be pleasing to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Contained in Spiritual Exercises there is a meditation on the "Standard of Christ" which you with out a doubt are faithful to and familiar with. The point goes like this, "the Lord of all the world chooses so many persons—Apostles, Disciples, etc.,—and sends them through all the world spreading His sacred doctrine through all states and conditions of persons."
This is the means in which wish to operate. Not only in my blogging, but in my family life and work life. Now I may not agree with that oriental stretching stuff you do and you may not agree with my tagging and positioning of posts all the time. In the process of being sent, you can count on me to lend a hand, and if I fall please reach out for me and pick me up so that I can get back into formation and keep my eye on His Standard.

May God keep you and bless you all the days of your life.



Dear Readers,
We are in the time of ordination to the priesthood. Many Jesuits will become priests this summer. Keep all the Jesuits in priestly formation in your prayers.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain why you drag every Jesuit's name through the mud if you don't like him, but you have ignored the front-page story on Joe Fessio this past week in California?

Your post here on Fr. Duns' blog seems charitable, and yet your use of the internet to make misleading and openly false statements about the Jesuits are not.

Your blog is not a clip service, it is a smear campaign. You should be ashamed of yourself. We all know you are not.

Anonymous said...

The Jesuits orchestrate their own smear campaign, against themselves, when they enlist others in their campaign against the church. They need no help from Joseph.

Anonymous said...

And yet Joseph continues his smear campaign. I think we all realize that Joseph is a bit simple, but his single-minded efforts to cast a negative light on anything the Jesuits do that doesn't match up with the U.S. Republican agenda ("NUNS IN SPORTCOATS ARE COMMUNIST JEWS!") is actually harmful to those who seek Christ, and not just moronic gossip. This site is an embarassment to the church.

Anonymous said...

How can Joseph Fromm claim his goal is to spread the gospel when he allows such hateful people to comment on his posts? He deletes anything that disagrees with him, but leaves up the most offensive and childish insults.

Maybe that's why Jesus died, so that Joseph and his immature friends can insult their "fellow Christians." But I doubt it.