Creepy and Disturbing

I learned over the weekend that the Norwegian assassin/terrorist actually read my blog.

Here’s how it happened: On Saturday I noticed a surge in my hits. When I checked the referral I saw that they were coming from a Norwegian website that Anders Breivik had been contributing to, and that in November 2009 he linked to one of my posts.

The post was one of my usual rants about modernist Christianity, and when I later saw a translation of Breivik’s comments about my post it was nothing extreme or weird in itself.

Nevertheless, to think that my blog is out there as part of this new global publishing phenomenon and that anybody at all can read it is always amazing. To think that this madman read at least one post on my blog was disturbing at first. Naturally I wondered if I had written anything to prompt such hatred and violence.

I don’t think I have. Still, I was creeped out by it. Breivik is clearly both mad and bad, and I guess all we can do in the face of such horror is be silent and pray.

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  • priest’s wife

    that's awful, Father- but should you be silent because there is mental illness in the world?Of course not- you know that your intentions are good and you are a rational, pastoral priest even when you are strong

  • catholiceconomist

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once and awhile. The guy was wrong, just because he agreed with you (and me) on our dislike of modern Christianity doesn't mean you influenced him. That doesn't even make sense (that is not where orthodox Christianity leads). Furthermore, there has been many times where Catholics have agreed with an enemy in one thing while fighting a common enemy. Take one of my homelands, Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, the Catholics fought along with the fascists, not because Spanish Catholics are fascists but because of our common enemy was the Republicans (fake name, they were socialists, communists, and anarchists) who were persecuting the Catholic Church in Spain. In this case, your common enemy was modernism. Though you lacked comradery as the Catholics and Fascists had 75 years ago.

  • Johnny Dollar

    I read that over the weekend on GetReligion, and I wondered if his comment on your blog might have been the on the only thing the Norwegian police official had to go on when he called Breivik a Christian fundamentalist who visited Christian fundamentalist websites. That would be a strange thing if true; who knows what fundamentalism means in Norway and how this blog looks to a Norwegian policeman.The only other Christian sites I've seen connected to Breivak are some bible look-up sites he used when mining quotes for his manifesto. Presumably he cut-and-pasted the extract he used from St. Bernard of Clairvaux he used as well.Nothing else has turned up that I've seen.Some good articles and discussions:

  • Jam

    I saw a link to your post in an article about Brevik's (confused) ties to Christianity and said a little prayer for you. A sad and frightening thing to be dragged into.

  • Johnny Dollar

    Forgot to add that you are in my prayers. This is very disturbing and most unwarranted. He mined the internet for stray articles to comment upon and slimed a lot of people by (tenuous) association.A quote to remember:"A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?"If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian." Prayers for the victims and their families, too. What a horrific, devastating event.

  • Scarlett_156

    It's the internet. Consider that I'm a bad person, and I'm reading this. Ya know? If the door is open, you never know who's gonna wander in. Luckily you are not being blamed for this deranged man's violent cruelty, like some other bloggers he read are.

  • Johnny Dollar

    Fr. Longenecker, don't you think it odd that this man, who favored a purely cultural Christianity, indifferent to the supernatural re-engineered to serve purely political ends (group cohesion and militant self-defense), did not see the irony in posting your article against Modernism approvingly. It is stunning to me; this is truly a case of a person seeing what they want to see in absolute contradiction to reality.

  • catholicofthule

    Oh, Father, I'm sorry to hear you have to deal with this. It must feel awful and very creepy. However, this was a man picking bits and pieces (some in and of themselves reasonable and some not) from here and there pushing them to extremes and forcing them into a twisted mould. If there is something you always seem to me to speak up against, it is any form of Christianity divorced from a real living relationship with Christ in the pursuit of holiness, nevermind a cultural Christianity like that described which really does not in any way deserve the name Christianity.

  • blumen

    Your comment that we need to be "silent and pray" struck me, in that it repeats the message from Mary given at Medjugorje on July 25:"Dear Children! May this time be for you a time of prayer and silence. Rest your body and spirit, may they be in God's love. Permit me, little children, to lead you, open your hearts to the Holy Spirit so that all the good that is in you may blossom and bear fruit one hundred fold. Begin and end the day with prayer with the heart. Thank you for having responded to my call."

  • Bill Huber

    What is disturbing is that mixed with Anders' madness are many truths about the sickness of modern society. The madness is that Anders twisted these truths to justify a path of violence to to combat sickness with sickness. Rather than speaking the truth in love (Ephesians), Anders twisted the truth in hate. Thus his crime was not just against those that he killed and injured, but also against the truth itself.

  • Katie

    I've always enjoyed your blog, Father, but rarely post. I lived in Stavanger, Norway for three years (was even living there on 9/11). I was seated next to the Lutheran bishop at a dinner party once. In making small talk, I discovered that he had been baptized just before he was ordained bishop. Our priest explained to me that being the Luthyeran bishop is more of a political post than a religious one. I say this to make the point that Lutheran is the state religion there, and it is a VERY secular religion. In a related way, our neighbor's son had to choose between a secular confirmation ceremony and a religious one–didn't make any difference to his parents…So when a Norwegian talks of being "Christian" it does not necessarily mean that he has any relationship with God.As an aside, the Catholic Church in Norway is absolutely booming, vocations and all. Those good, holy, unapologetic, masculine priests converted my Evangelical husband 10 years ago–well, OK, the Holy Spirit did it, but he often says that if it had not been for knowing those Norwegian priests, he would still be an Evangelical today…

  • shortside40

    Father, your posts are very insightful and as other people have said, it's the internet. You can't ever really know who will stumble across your writings. Maybe you could turn the creeped-out feelings around and offer them up as a special prayer for the poor soul of this man. :)

  • catholicofthule

    "nevermind a cultural Christianity like that described which really does not in any way deserve the name Christianity."I mean, of course, not to deny any defence of Christian culture or the Christan aspects of our culture and values as good in themselves. But, of course, that is what Breivik has twisted and distorted like Bill Huber points out.

  • catholicofthule

    Well, to qualify my own words again, whether what I am speaking of is the same as that which Bill Huber refers to obviously depends upon what that is, which is not clear. :-) So suffice it to say, it may well be a good thing to work to defend and promote Christian aspects of our culture for the benefit they give to society even if one does not have personal faith. It is not a good thing to twist them to hatred, or even resort to and possibly use them as a twisted basis for hatred. This is sometimes the only time some people refer to the Christian basis of our culture, to make strange, irrelevant, and irrational demands which have very little bearing on anything of substance (perhaps with the exception of increasing ethnic and religious tensions) in an aggressive tone on immigrants of different religions. When it comes to actually promoting good in a manner according to that goodness…not so much.

  • Bill Huber

    Fundamental to Christianity is to see the face of God even in those we disagree with, or who are acting against us as our enemies. This inclination drives the Christian faith in the sanctity of life. So while Anders points out many things that are real problems with the opponents of a Christian way of life, whether those opponents are secular modernists or Islamicists, his response to those problems was heinous and in every possible sense, an unchristian one. Now, however both secular modernists and Islamicists will use Anders actions to tar orthodox Christian belief with a violent and evil brush. Thus his actions have provided the fertile soil for lies, distortions and propaganda by the very forces that he claimed to oppose.

  • His little lamb

    Father, You also do not know what seed of goodnes may have been planted in Anders' conscience from having read your blog. We do know "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him". I pray that seed that was planted may grow into the fruit of conversion, contrition & faith & snatch Anders from the death grip of evil. I have great hope in this especially now that I know his soul was drawn here.

  • Steve

    Father, you obviously do not deserve blame for what one of your fans has done. Nonetheless, every one in the church–especially those in positions of prominence–needs to be aware that others are feeding off your words, for better or worse.Frankly, I'm more concerned about my own bishop (Springfield, Illinois), as he used his Christmas Eve homily last year to share with the faithful his bigotry towards Muslims. I have blogged about this, and others have written about it as well; unfortunately, though, the bishop has not yet seen fit to repent. (What an example he could set if he showed people how to turn away from bigotry.) As a result, he is part of the problem of people feeding that hatred of Muslims as a monolithic, dangerous "other." And Breivik has shown what a steady diet of anti-Muslim rhetoric can lead to.

  • mundabor

    If Hugo Chavez agrees with me on something, it doesn't follow that I am wrong in anything; merely that he is not wrong in something. Mundabor

  • mundabor

    On the "madness": I think we should be careful before we call him "mad". I don't have the impression that he is mad, rather that he is evil. If we equate evil with madness, we run the risk of excusing him and all evil people like him. He knew very well what he was doing and went on deliberately, and rather intelligently, planning and executing it. if this is a madman, the entire Norwegian police belongs in the madhouse with him. Mundabor

  • Patricia

    I agree that he was filled with evil. Besides involvement in Freemasonry, he was a fan of Movie series True Blood and violent war video games. This mixture is a powderkeg waiting to explode. May God help all of the poor victims. I guess in charity we should pray for this man as well.

  • Elizabeth

    Not your fault Father Longenecker, any more than it's the fault of a newspaper editorialist if this person read and commented on an essentially inoffensive newspaper editorial. Like someone else said, it's even possible you

  • ElizabethK

    Evilis right. Thw powe of evil is that it takes the truth and then twists it, or reveals half of the truth, or creates false propositions using pieces of truth and half-truth. It masks itself as reason, when it is disordered and false. I imagine that many of us who read his words heard at least a faint echo of things we have written and thought, and are saddened by what will happen to those ideas now (while being most saddened and horrified, of course, by the actions this evil man took).

  • catholicofthule

    I find that everything I write on this subject turns out with something amiss and not quite how I wanted it, and so also in my last post. Perhaps it's due to a mixture of the subject,not taking enough time, and the fact that I am quite shaken by this as a Norwegian.So I look at the way I tried to express that it seems not a good thing if and when also on a more 'normal basis' the appeal to Christian culture is used basically in opposition with apparently no corresponding genuine concern for the values in question in and of themselves. And I believe it is true that there is something off about this when it is done. But I see that in the way I actually did express it, there was too much of a direct link between this and hatred, which is not at all clear in each incident, and so it is unjust to suggest so. And I also think that with the specific incidents I had in mind when I said so, I may have made an unfair assessment of the motives, issues etc. and also conflated various things.It is important now not to make facile statements. And I think that in expressing myself so carelessly, perhaps I was contributing to exactly the kind of accusation that could be levelled at people without proper consideration, and perhaps that is what I was doing in reference to the specific incidents I had in mind(even if it may also be true in some cases).I think it is great that so far the public response (in Norway) has not been one of hatred. I hope it will continue to be so, and that there will not be an unjust response in the future either.I think corresponding care would have been equally important if the perpetrator had been a Muslim or a marxist lest anyone should think otherwise. Our responsbility to truth and charity extend to all situations.All in all, though, I think I should simply follow the advice of Father to be silent and pray.

  • catholicofthule

    'if the perpetrator had been a Muslim or a marxist'I mean this, of course, in the sense of referring to our responsibility to truth and charity also in cases in which the perpetrator would have no reference (however contrived and meaningless)to a defence of Christian culture and in all likelihood would have the exact opposite. Now I really will shut up. I promise. :-)