Types of Catholic Commenters

Writer Max Lindenman, who usually adds a dose of cleverness to the food for thought offered in his column, “An Israelite Without Guile,” today gives us a spoonful of medicine that goes down pretty easy, if you have a sense of humor. Perusing various Catholic blogs and magazine sites, he has identified Nine types of Catholic Commenters:

For the curious, I’ve prepared a brief field guide to some recognizable types:

1) The Chief Mourner: For this nostalgic soul, spiritual perfection was realized in some Church figure of his/her youth. When that exemplar passed from the earth, the whole Church went to the dogs. To hear the chief mourner tell it, there’s no point in even discussing the Church’s problems, if Archbishop Sheen (Cardinal Bernardin, Dorothy Day, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII) isn’t around to solve them.

2) The Closet Sedevacantist: This master of reductive reasoning finds one explanation and one explanation only for every woe that plagues the Church. He blames the Second Vatican Council for clerical sex abuse, declining vocations, and even the designated hitter rule. (Pius XII would have fought to preserve the purity of our national pastime.) Since he prides himself on his docility to the Magisterium, he will, occasionally, observe a distinction between the conciliar decrees themselves and their subsequent application; but this is tokenism. In truth, he can’t shut his ears to the idea that Good Pope John had been inspired by the Freemasons, the Devil, or both.

3) Casper the Friendly Ghost: The closet sedevacantist’s natural counterpart and constant incubus, this person pines aloud for the Spirit of Vatican II. This Spirit, as he defines it, represented a boundless openness to change—aggiornamento without borders. In his gloomier moods, he writes of the spirit as though it were Sade’s Justine—abused, betrayed, and violated at very turn. In his more buoyant moments, he writes as though it were out of commission but only temporarily, like Tinkerbell. If we all clap our hands and believe, Vatican III could be just around the corner.

Sadly, I have found myself somewhere in there, and not just once. I am not telling you where. This being Lent — the season of self-examination and a resolve to do better — take a look and see where you land on the list!

*James Tissot’s painting Mary Magdalene’s Box of Very Precious Ointment seemed apt to me; everybody’s got an opinion!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://victor-undergo.blogspot.com/ Victor

    I find myself, a little inbetween the passive agressivity of the assertive Christianity Catholic think converter during this Lent in time!

    Does that make any sense?

    I hear ya! You’re way off topic again Victor! :)

    God Bless Peace

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Fetus frenzy?

    I’m beginning to think Mr. Lindenmen doesn’t really like his fellow Catholics very much.

    (Fetus frenzy?)

  • jeff

    And in what category does Max Lindemann fall?

  • Bender

    Wow. Are there ANY good commenters? This looks to me like all too many of those commenters who repeatedly tells us how much this or that in the Church sucks. Great. The music sucks, the liturgy sucks, the architecture sucks, the homilies suck, religious education sucks, the bishops suck, the progressives suck, the traditionalists suck, and now, apparently, all of the commenters suck as well.

    Frankly, I’m tired of the Lindemann “everything sucks” commenters.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    I think it’s a little harsh. There are some really great Catholic commenters out there. I feel like if I say anything I’m going to get singed.

  • Jbagnell

    could not agree more..

  • jeff

    How about the “Above the Fray” catholic blogger/commenter.

    Stands above the unwashed catholic masses like a Colossus while making fun of their various opinions, no matter how well reasoned or appropriate they are. Resorts frequently to ridiculing anyone who criticizes events after Vatican II. Extremely sensitive to criticism of any sort which is invariably met with ad hominem responses.

  • Jan

    “Hi. I’m Jan and I’m a Catholic Commenter.”

    Wow – I actually read the link to Lindenman and I have to confess that I do what he does – I skip down to the comments to see who says what before I go back to the actual post to see the relevance.

    I don’t think I fit into any of the three classifications.

    Is this comment relevant? Anyone?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Fetus frenzy?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Go ahead, and get singed anyway! There are some great Catholic commenters—and I say this as one who is not Catholic?

    (I didn’t realize that it was bad to criticize Vatican II. And Fetus Frenzy???)

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Oh, I know. It’s just that the way they group everyone in a negative light we’re bound to get lumped in there somewhere. lol

  • http://victor-undergo.blogspot.com/ Victor

    Bender, sounds like you might be finding yourself in a little bit of 1,2, and also 3. Go Figure! :)

    God Bless Peace

  • Aj4coco

    I don’t know what a sedevacantist is. Neither does dictionary.com. So could somebody define it for me, please?

    Also, thank you for letting me know who to blame for the designated hitter rule.

  • Anonymous

    A Sedevacantist is someone who believes that the seat of Peter is “empty” or “vacant” because there hasn’t been a “real” pope since…I think they say Pius X…not sure about that.

  • Bender

    If that is what you figure, that’s some pretty bad math there.

  • Verkonika

    Dear Anchoress, sorry for posting this on this thread, but since the comments are closed on the appropriate one and the innocence and reputation of a good priest is at stake, here it is a letter from Santa Cruz Media, Inc. Relative to Fr. Corapi’s Suspension:

    Santa Cruz Media, Inc. is the owner of all of Fr. John Corapi’s intellectual property and the DVDs, CDs, and books that flow from it. We are a secular corporation and not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. As such, we are not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church, although we have the utmost respect for Church authority.

    We fully support Rev. John Corapi in this terrible trial, not surprisingly having begun on Ash Wednesday. Through the sacrifice and struggle of the desert and all of the dark moments that this entails, we are confident that the glory of the risen Lord will shine forth from the power of the Resurrection and Easter.

    We have consulted with a number of canon lawyers. They have assured us that the actions of the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas are, on several points of canon law, illicit. It is our fervent hope that The Dallas Charter will be changed because of false accusations like this. There is no evidence at this time that Fr. Corapi did anything wrong, only the unsubstantiated rant of a former employee, who, after losing her job with this office, physically assaulted me and another employee and promised to “destroy” Father Corapi. We all continue to pray for this person, and we ask you to do the same.

    We sincerely believe that the work Fr. Corapi has done is of greatest value to the Church, hence hated by the devil. We fully intend to make Fr. Corapi’s material available as a service to the Church and the world for as long as we possibly can.

    The Church provides no financial support to Fr. Corapi. He has to pay for his own legal representation, medical costs, food, housing, etc. We have never accepted donations or charitable contributions of any kind. We are supporting Father’s efforts to defend himself. Your purchase of products from Santa Cruz Media helps provide the funding for Father’s continued work as well as the legal expenses he continues to incur as a result of these malicious allegations.

    Father Corapi and all of us here at Santa Cruz Media, Inc. greatly appreciate your kindness, support, and prayers. Please continue to pray for Father Corapi and his accuser, as well as all priests who find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Bobbi Ruffatto
    Vice President of Operations
    Santa Cruz Media, Inc.

  • Sal

    This gives them the opportunity to elect the ‘garage pope’ of their choice.

    I’ve been trying to read Mr. Lindeman for weeks now, and I think I’ll stop now. Not b/c he doesn’t have a point- just b/c I get enough cool urban hipster irony in real life, without looking for it at Patheos.
    Plus, I’ve been puzzled from the get-go by why someone who admits that he doesn’t ‘get’ Catholicism (as opposed to getting it, but having to struggle to live up to it) has a column.

  • Anonymous

    Veronika this IS the wrong venue for this comment; comments close after 4 days. Have written about the memo here: http://www.patheos.com/community/theanchoress/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=26795&message=6

  • Anonymous

    He is a very new Catholic, and still coming to terms with our very rich and complex faith, and he is here because he represents the voice of a lot of Catholics who are in the pews, working it out. The church is pretty big; has a lot of voices that deserve to be heard, don’t you think? We’re all in this together.

  • Sal

    Actually, it’s usually Pius XII. (Speaking as an E.F. attendee who occasionally encounters sedes.)

  • Sal

    A good answer- and I apologize for sounding more accusatory than curious.
    Let’s just consider it a matter of style and tast. IOW it’s not him, it’s me…
    Thanks!

  • Liz

    This made me laugh – I think some of the commenters here are taking it too seriously.

    I know hipster irony has a bad rep, and Christians of all denominations are a little touchy about negativity, especially considering how, say, atheists and Muslims are treated. But we need to be able to take some good natured ribbing, or else no one else will hear legitimate complaints. It’s kind of background noise as it is.

    And yes, I’ve met the fetus frenzy people. I have a family member, who cannot do small talk, and will bring the conversation to Roman Catholicism (specifically, converting me) and abortion at any opportunity. It’s very believable for me that this could happen more on the internet, where there are fewer social signals.

  • Victor

    Probably won’t be the last bad calculation I’ll make but I agree with you that is pretty bad especially during Lent.

    For what “IT” is worth, I apologize!

  • Max Lindenman

    I think I can answer that one.

    I’m not sure where I said that I don’t “get” Catholicism. I may not be a great theologian, but, like a lot of converts, I’ve made sure I’m at least as well catechized as most cradle Catholics. My academic background is in early modern European history, which covers, more or less, the period from the Reformation through the Napoleonic wars. Beyond that, I have a strong personal interest in modern European history, which covers the unification of Italy, both Vatican Councils, the conflicts between Church and State in France during the Third Republic, and both World Wars.

    But this particular piece is more about human nature — specifically, the tendency for people to want a Church that can’t possibly exist. The Closet Sedevacantist secretly wants to take the Church back to Vatican I. (His cousin in St. Louis, Tadeusz, would take it back even further, and says so rather more openly.) Casper the Friendly Ghost tells himself that V2 gave the Church leave to transform itself out of all recognition. The others play the blame game relentlessly — you don’t have to be the rector of Ave Maria University to see how unhelpful that is.

    What you call urban hipster irony is my viewing the Church with the common sense I picked up from all my decades in the world. Yeah, I know — according to the stereotype, converts are supposed to steep themselves in Church culture to the point where they become more Catholic than cradle Catholics. That didn’t take with me. Although I found many differences between the Church and the world, and quite a few in the Church’s favor, I found many more similarities than many Catholics would like to admit. The reason?People are people everywhere.

    I realize any reminders in that direction are going to get a particularly hostile reception these days, when the big project underway is the restoration of Catholic identity. I’ll just have to live with that. In that project, I see a lot of tribalism and a lot of nostaligia — not necessarily bad in themselves, but easily taken to unwholesome extremes if not challenged intelligently. Writing with tongue in cheek, I think, is the best way to deliver these challenges. Nearly every other Catholic pundit these days is writing with fist in air. I find that extremely tiresome. I suppose we’ll find out presently whether or not I’m alone.

  • Sal

    “Not only did I reject Church teachings on—well, on pretty much all subjects apart from social justice and God’s triune nature—”

    That’s what we read, in your first column. You can see where our confusion comes from.

    Thanks for the above explanation- I do understand your goal and why the Anchoress added you to the portal. Like I said- it’s not you, it’s me.

  • Max Lindenman

    You’re the reader. The reader, like the customer, is always right. No need to apologize for exercising your tastes.

    Yes, now I do see where the confusion comes in. There’s a difference, I think, between a conscientious inability to accept Church teachings and an intellectual inability to comprehend them. I’ll readily admit Church teachings follow a well-defined internal logic. In my last piece, I poke fun at the people who can’t recognize this — like the people who use one pastoral letter of Cardinal Bernardin’s as a club to swat every bishop who’s come along since.

    If you’re fighting down an urge to play the Heretic Hunter and tell me to get lost, believe me, I’ve been tempted. The force keeping me around is so powerful and mysterious that I can only put it down to a calling.


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