I’d like to thank the Academy…

Actually, I’d like to just thank Marcel LeJeune, the wizard who runs the Aggie Catholics blog and who has, to my wonderment, included me on his annual list of Top 20 Catholic Bloggers.

I’m humbled to be in such exalted company — check out the list and visit their blogs — and I’m grateful for the props.

And now I have one of these little badges, to boot:

Thanks, Marcel — and Happy New Year from The Bench!

(If Marcel really wanted to be fair and accurate, he’d include himself on the list.  So I’ve done the next best thing: I’ve added Aggie Catholics to the list of Magnificent Bloggery which you’ll find in the right hand column of this blog.  He’s doing some great work.   Visit and say hello! )

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45 responses to “I’d like to thank the Academy…”

  1. Seriously? When will Catholic bloggers stop looking for and patting each other on the backs with such stupidity as “blog awards”?

  2. Blogging is at its heart a community activity and thrives on interlinking.

    This is a lovely way to acknowledge others hard work and dedication for an often thankless task.

    I for one am grateful for these “blog awards” as it affords me the opportunity to get to know other bloggers on t’interweb.

  3. Dude! (yes I called you DUDE)
    It’s all in fun and one man’s opinion……just like it’s one man’s opinion when YOU POST.

  4. Exactly, Stuart. It’s just a good way to promote blogs some readers might not be aware of.

  5. Often it is also about exclusion of others, and one of the problems of the Catholic blogosphere is how it is run. It is very unCatholic, and political ideology is trumpeted more as Catholic orthodoxy than actual Catholic teaching. So many “Catholic” sites just are political sites which actually contend against Catholic teaching because it doesn’t follow their political ideology. It is an artificial community being used to undermine Catholic teaching, and these blog awards are a way to continue with a pseudo-online Magisterium. Sorry, no good, no good.

  6. If that is the case, why do they always promote the same blogs all the time? It’s about the exact opposite — it is about silencing blogs which don’t follow the ideology that the pseudo-online Magisterium wants promoted.

  7. “An artificial community being used to undermine Catholic teaching”? A quick glance at the list reveals people who are pretty orthodox and unapologetically Catholic. The Vatican even invited a few of them to Rome last summer to talk about their work.

    Henry, it’s pretty clear why you’re upset. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by harping on this.

  8. The blogosphere isn’t “run.” It’s a free-for-all (even trolls, not to put too fine a point on it).

  9. A wee over the top in the criticism, huh? This is a fun, and purely subjective, post that is meant to point out a few good blogs. Next time I will be sure not to include all who don’t like blogging lists. I think I did that anyway.

  10. I would disagree with talks about orthodoxy with people on that list; seriously, many of them are quite unorthodox when dealing with Catholic Social Doctrine, and misrepresent ethics of voting for political gain.

    It is clear that I dislike the artificial awards and the self-congratulatory tone of the Catholic blogosphere. Seriously, what did Jesus say? What should one look for? Not sham piety awards.

  11. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s always the same people pointing to each other. “We are just showing a few good blogs.” So why don’t do you something like, I don’t know, actually point out good blogs by pointing out posts on blogs and commenting on them. This award nonsense is just that — nonsense, outright nonsense, and the claim “we are just pointing to blogs” is nonsense when the blogs are the same people over and over and over again — and people included in these lists are often those who ARE doing a great deal of harm to Catholicism on the net. But of course, the pseudo-Magisterium must be obeyed.

  12. I’ve been a part of the “regulars” on The Deacons’ Bench for a bit over two years. It has always been fun — sometimes exasperating, sometimes irritating — but always fun. I do it because of my ministry — I am a “Professor-Deacon” just like “Deacon Bill” who joins in on occasion. In fact, sometimes I even enjoy working this blog more than the formal classroom because here I do not have to grade any assignments or tests. AND, only rarely, do I have to correct any error or fight off an attack of trolls.

    I also appreciate Deacon Greg’s blog because it has introduced me to a lot of folks whose ministry is in totally different areas of life (both theological and geographic) than mine.

    Way to go!!!

  13. I stand closer to Henry on this one. People could take his criticism with good grace. And sportsmanship. Less crowing and ego, too, please.

    In the big picture, another blogroll–which is what this is–is not a really big deal. But the prevalence of blogs with big hit-counts, and the strong leaning toward conservatives does not exemplify Catholicism, large or small-c.

    There are really good writers in the Catholic blogosphere, people who labor long and hard to present well–usually better than most of the people on this “top” list. Thing is, their daily hit count is often in the dozens.

    If we’re looking for the results of a popularity contest, there’s always homecoming queen at the local high school. If we’re looking for serious, meaningful platitudes about colleagues and comrades in blogging, I’m afraid Mr LeJeune is going to have to scour a minimum of a thousand Catholic blogs for this gold star to have any substance behind it.

  14. Henry has a good point on this one. It would be illustrative to know why six of the twenty writers are in the NCReg stable. What is it about them that makes them better bloggers than people who are actual writers, journalists, and theologians who blog and blog well, though with the fraction of the hit counts of Rock or the Anchoress?

    Marcel does offer a qualifier, that these are his “favorite” reads. But why the gold star for that? Most of us just put our friends and faves on our sidebar and have done with it.

    If blogging is something to be taken seriously, it’s going to need something more than a daily Sheavian chuckle or Fr Z’s red-n-black.

  15. Will,
    Henry is already associated with at least (2) blogs that I know of that are already promoting blogs other than the ones listed.

    I hope this is not out of line but he is blowing hot air and I for one refuse to “play” anymore.

    Peace to all

  16. What do you mean I am promoting blogs, other than the ones listed? Your reply makes no logical sense.

    It is not a game. I am not “playing” anything. I am quite serious about the problems of so-called “blog awards,” and the inability of people to note how they are not being used to promote anything but the “in crowd” in a very dangerous and uncatholic fashion.

  17. This is my favorite blog not only because of the Deacon’s interesting, well written and timely posts but also because I enjoy the comments people write. The opinions are informative, diverse and for the most part respectfully written. Given the generally varied and civil nature of the debate here, even those comments I disagree with help me me to think about issues from a different perspective. I think this has alot to do with the tone set by the Deacon. He deserves the praise.

  18. I will promote without reservation Vox Nova for the depth of discussion of the mystery of faith and God’s Love as it is experienced and lived.

  19. This is an interesting discussion. Henry I even agree with you to some extent, and also Barbara and Todd.

    Let me make it clear I am a huge fan of Dcn. Greg’s blog. I can’t even pinpoint to an exact reason but there are lots, great writing, great homilies, good sense of humor, and I know the Holy Spirit is here A LOT! Like Barbara, I also enjoy the comments, despite having a love/hate with com boxes, especially Catholic ones. The other reason I like it is that we aren’t all singing to the same choir; like the diversity.

    To your credit Dcn. Greg, you have been able to finally keep the conversation at a friendly level, and seem to have a good sense when to shut off comments. Consequently, I’m convinced you have the most intersting readers/commenters; not sugery sweet and all in step, many ordained, almost all intelligent, not afraid to disagree, and for the most part, all pretty respectful.

    What I am NOT a fan of is Patheos. I think it is everything Henry describes, for the most part. It’s almost too much to take at times, as it is for the most part, one big self promotion of each other, at least among the Catholics, sort of like a hard sell forcing us to read people we have no interest in reading. A recent example of that is the Wican stuff, which unlike a harmless unbeliever, Wicans are for the most part “anti-Catholism”, anti God. Personally I find Wican on Patheos more offensive than Nazi’s on a Jewish blog, or at least, equally as bad.

    I’m totally with Henry re: the awards. I don’t quetiton the talent or hard work of some, but I can tell you if I had a Catholic blog, I would not want any rewards for writing of my faith. It’s just creepy, sort of like the applause at mass after the choir sings; an award for prayer. Just as bad as the award(s), I think, is the need to measure everything. Who but God could possible know how one person might be touched by a post or comment, even on a blog with an audience of one?

    Maybe it’s just me, but the essence of good Catholic blogging is to keep the eyes on no one but Jesus, stay close to the Holy Spirit, and “put it out there” with trust that the Holy Spirit willl do what needs to be done.

  20. Klaire,

    I hope people realize I was not criticizing this blog, or Deacon Greg, in any substantial way, but looking deeper into the problem I find with the blogosphere. It is also a problem I know the Vatican is concerned with — they both want Catholics to engage the new media, but they also are concerned with the incomplete, imperfect, often false, information which gets spread on it. Indeed, I see what is happening with RealCatholicTV is an example of this concern, not just here, but from the Vatican on this nature (as can be seen with other claims to news services).

    And yes, I agree with the applause at liturgy problem, too. Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions (like when Pope Benedict did an applause in DC- which points to the complexity of everything), but the general spirit is that of self-promotion instead of self-giving and humility.

  21. I totally agree Henry and Todd. In this sense “having fun” reveals the preferences of the person “having fun”. The question is why does he have these preferences over others? What this does is manipulate people to read those blogs he listed and as a consequence they miss the opportunity to read Catholic teaching from different perspective that might stimulate another level of understanding of this beautiful faith.

  22. A few serious thoughts on this for a minute, since I did the list.
    1 – There is no grand agenda to give out pats on the back to those that make the list. They got a nice warm bowl of NOTHING by being on this list.
    2 – It is my list. I don’t mind others having a disagreement with it, but these are the 20 blogs I read more than any other. If you like other blogs, then make your own list and put it out there. I invite other blogs to be mentioned in the combox.
    3 – Ever think that the reason a lot of these blogs are the most popular Catholic blogs around, is because they are some of the best Catholic blogs around? Just a thought. Furthermore, who has time to go through the entire Catholic blogosphere and make read enough blogs to be comprehensive about such a post?
    4 – The “award” idea is a joke. Who really wants a silly sheriff’s badge that got a shoddy Photoshop job on their blog? Nobody. At least I hope nobody.

    As for the comment – “What would Jesus say? What should one look for? Not sham piety awards.” Of course not. They also shouldn’t get bent out of shape for a post that clearly said – “Yes, these are the blogs I read most. If I missed one you like, mention them in the combox. If you don’t like one of them, be nice about it. If you think one is better than the others, be nice about that as well.”

    Blessings – Marcel

  23. The nothing was delicious, by the way, Marcel.

    Nothing is better on a cold winter’s day than…nothing! 🙂

    Dcn. G.

  24. As for your item #3 it does not answer why you think they are the best Catholic blogs out there. What is the criteria? Your intent I am sure is what you say it is but it still influences the masses to venture to those sites and miss others that offer different perspectives on Catholic teaching. Since none of us know the entirety of the truth there is always something being written that is incomplete or incorrectly interpreted due to the limitations of our human understanding or our biases…How about amore comprehensive list?

  25. Marcel you are certainly entitled to have your top 20 list, as are any of us.

    Speaking for myself only, I don’t want to read 20 blogs a day or care how others rank them, or anyone telling me who I “need/must” read (the reason I got rid of my TV, got sick of talking heads telling me how to think). If they are true to their calling, the Holy Spirit will led us to them, which is how I’ve long felt about Dcn. Greg and The Anchoress, both by the way I loved most when they were small and even in Elizabeth’s case, anonymous.

    Since they got popoular, it’s been like the little voices in the monastary getting prime time real estate in Times Squares, sort of like Catholicism commercialized. Sometimes, with all due respect to Elizabeth, I feel like she is so busy I shouldn’t be stopping by anymore than I should be popping in on my neighbor with 6 kids below the age of 10. It’s just all seems too hectic at times.

    I still hang in there because I love their writing and I believe they are truly inspired. Maybe all the extra noise is my thing to work out/through, but to be honest, I hate it. Now enter your photoshop award, as good hearted as it was probably intented, and it’s like one more flashing light/distraction in Times Square when I really just want to be in a quiet spot in Wyoming.

    All I’m saying is that all good things can become missued, and I think this luv fest with Catholic blogs is one of them. The Holy Spirit leads us to the good ones (noisey or not I guess). On the other hand, if through your list, others are led to a site that inspires them, who am I to question in. I’m only giving my opinion.

  26. “Ever think that the reason a lot of these blogs are the most popular Catholic blogs around, is because they are some of the best Catholic blogs around? Just a thought.”

    Fair enough. Lady Gaga is tremendously popular, and she does have good singing chops. Is she as good as, say, the late Montserrat Figueras? Does anybody here know the woman or her popularity levels.

    If you prefer apples to apples, I find the folk-blues singer Anne Hills to be divine. But Katy Perry sells a lot more downloads and concert tickets.

    But yes, sometimes the most popular are among the best.

  27. Escellent job Marcel on your list of blogs and congrats to Deacon Greg and the others. I enjoy some of the blogs more than others, but like the list to see what I might be missing.

    As to the posts above, it is interesting to see the names complaining and objections and think of how they comment on other posts. I find that the most interesting thing in many ways about blogs. If Deacon posted two words, Magisterial Teaching, you could count on some screaming protests.

  28. Leave it to Henry to take what appeared to be a “feel good” thread and turn it into a controversy over Catholic orthodoxy. In my opinion, Deacon Greg’s blog stands head and shoulders above the others on the Aggie Catholic list; in fact, it is markedly more theologically (and politically) balanced than the others, several of them produced by writers for the National Catholic Register. What is most remarkable is that fans of that uber-conservative publication seem to feel quite at home here, as do fans of the other NCR and even fans of Vox Nova (among whom I count myself). That strikes me as a big part of what being Catholic is all about, and in that sense (among others), Deacon Greg is a paragon of Catholic orthodoxy.

  29. Well, like Henry and Marcel, I have no quibble with Greg being well-regarded by anyone.

    Unlike Marcel, Greg does welcome all sorts of commentary on his blog, and is willing to allow “feel good” exchanges as well as brisk ones.

    I am sorry Marcel and others feel that Henry and I have thrown a stink bomb into an otherwise sunshiney thread. I think some folks are missing some sound and constructive ways to lengthen their blogrolls, that’s all.

    Let me suggest an illustrative exercise to all concerned about Catholicism and the free expression of favoritism: find one very good Catholic blog with a daily hit count under, say, 25 to 50, and come back in a day or two to tell us why a nearly unknown web site should be visited more often. Maybe give us more than Marcel’s one sentence summary.

  30. Congratulations, Deacon Greg on this well-deserved honor! Thank you and God bless you for all you do!

  31. Todd at least IMO, you are missing the point. It isn’t about “hit counts.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t read Catholic blogs for the same resasons I read the Washington Post or a good book.

    I truly feel drawn here by the Holy Spirit. If I HAD to pick, “blog number one”, hands down it would be Deacon’s Greg. It’s one of the few that while remaining totally in line with the Magesterium, gets not only the diversified commenters, but quite interesting and intellingent one, in addition to some great writing often with wit and humor. I truly believe that when it comes to Catholic blogs, if the person writing is in step with the Holy Spirit, in true obedience, “they will come.” The bench is really the only place I know where we lay folks can interact with the ordained, both priests and deacons, and that’s a beautiful blessing.

    All said, this blog works for me because it’s compatible with where I am on the spiritual journey. I have absolutely no desire or time to read anything Catholic from a Catholic who doesn’t adhere to the Teachings of the Magesterium, save for the comments. Ten years ago, I probably would have hated it, and felt a lot more comfortable in one of the cafeteria style Catholic blogs, which at that time, might have been “right” for me. My point of course, is that the Holy Spirit puts us where we need to be,albeit not by “ranking” or even good writing, but where the fruit is. I have learned much from this site and I thank everyone , including the commenters, who make that possible.

  32. I see your point.

    I read Greg for the same reason Marcel listed: he has the energy and connections to access a quantity of news stories. And for your reason: a diversity of opinion. And a third: opinion here is not dominated by the echo chamber as it is on some of Marcel’s favorites, or even his own.

    But I also enjoy good writing. I like Fr Austin Fleming because he’s a career parish priest with a gift for making connections with good writing and prayerful ministry.

    We actually get relatively little of Greg’s writing on this blog. Rocco, for example, also has a news blog, but he puts a lot more of his “style” into his journalism.

    I enjoy a good writer more than a good news reporter, and three writers come to mind as superior to what we see of our host here: Heather King, Robert Barron, and Max Lindenmann. With this, we get more into a matter of personal taste. Marcel’s list struck me as more a political statement than an actual list of blogs outstanding in one or a few ways.

    If I were to compile my own list, I would probably have a conservative who drives me crazy who keeps me coming back for more, a poet, a theologian or two, a parish priest or two, a good friend or two, and three or four people who have trod the road less travelled. It would be pretty diverse because I need a lot of different viewpoints to keep me alert and to celebrate my catholicity.

  33. Todd, the reason some of us feel that Henry and others have thrown a stink bomb is that the second comment on this thread was Henry’s churlish “January 5, 2012 at 8:39 am
    Seriously? When will Catholic bloggers stop looking for and patting each other on the backs with such stupidity as ‘blog awards’?”

    It boggles my mind that anybody could possibly take issue with one blogger saying, in effect, “Here are some other blogs I like.” I find the negative reaction ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that said blogger invited people to make their own suggestions in the comments, and I’m sorely tempted to say to the sourpusses, “Get a life.”

  34. When people start using words like “best blogs,” and “awards,” instead of “my favorite blogs,” there tends to be reasons for this, and those reasons are the undercurrent in the Catholic blogosphere which people want to ignore. Seriously, if one wants to comment and say “here are my favorite blogs,” it’s a quite different level from making claims of “best” and “worthy of awards.” However, this tendency within a major corner of the Catholic blogosphere to circle around each other, vote each other the best, and to ignore the rest is something which people do not want to address; and when the response is “I’m just pointing people to blogs,” it’s crazy, because it is always the same blogs which everyone knows about. And then this constant, consistent agreement with each other as each other being the best, ignoring other blogs so they don’t get readership, leads to each other’s higher readership and their ability to proclaim “Well, look at the size of our readers, we must be right.” It’s the kind of thing one expects from a propagandist

  35. Okay. Enough. This is getting ridiculous.

    I’m closing down comments.

    Henry is lashing out at something that was relatively small and insignificant, and turning it into a federal case, complete with conspiracies and words like “propagandist.” I’m baffled at why he cares so much about this.

    Let’s move on. I’m sorry I ever brought it up. Sheesh.

    Dcn. G.