September 06, 2006

The Power of Web Forums

Gentle Reader, I informed you in my first post: The Recovering Dissident Catholic that my journey to the Truth was not one moment but many moments.

One of the moments in my journey was via a web forum. This particular forum was attached to my former parish's (Jeanne D’Arc) website. Said website is pretty well known all over the Catholic world.

This web forum at my former parish in south Minneapolis was started with the intent of providing a forum for parishioners and like-minded people to converse on a variety of topics. Some of these threads were church-related, some were discussions of the week’s “speaker”, some were broad discussions of likes/dislikes of the parish itself.

Needless, to say the forum “backfired” almost right out of the gate. The forum was immediately under siege by conservative Catholics around the world. I think some of them had been waiting a LONG time for the opportunity to voice their opinion in the public sphere on this parish with the frequently heretical website.

I’m not even sure the forum lasted for a year.

The forum “bombed” in another important way. I read many of these postings and rather then cement my belief in what the parish was teaching, it had the opposite effect. It made me question what I was being told and practicing in said parish. I did not know more then 3/4th of what the conservatives were talking about. You mean we can’t just do what we want during the liturgy? What’s GIRM? There are assigned readings from scripture every week, every day? Is it true the Mass cannot be in a gym? Non-Catholics are never allowed to receive Communion? We can’t use glass for the wine? We are supposed to be kneeling? We can’t say the words of Consecration along with the priest? The tabernacle should be in view?

I lurked on the forum because I did not know what to say or how to respond. And, I was starting to feel my faith was weak. If I was not even capable of adequately defending my (dissenting) beliefs did I belong in the Catholic church? Was my parish really Catholic?

Around this time I started lurking on the Catholic Answers forums. I don’t recall how I first found my way to them but, clearly, there were a lot of answers to be had on the CA forums and few of them conformed to what I was being taught.

Then, something happened that really made me think that my parish was “all wet”. For over a decade, the slogan of said parish has been: “We Welcome You Wherever You are On Your Journey” Sounds pretty inclusive, right? It’s meant to be. I heard time and time again that all opinions were valued in said parish and that “dialog” was the order of the day.

Yet, when the “heat” was on the parish CLOSED THE FORUMS. Parish scuttlebutt was that the Priest at the time was feeling attacked by some of the opinions on the forum and the Parish Administrator wanted the forums closed. The Webmaster and I were both opposed to the shut-down because we both felt it was antithetical to the parish’s claim of being open and inclusive. We were both outvoted.

I was REALLY angry over the decision to close the forums and my response was to keep reading and learning about Roman Catholicism on my own because I was beginning to get the impression that perhaps there was something out there “they” were afraid of.

Thus, the parish’s website forum had the opposite effect of what was intended. It helped to turn me away from them and towards the Truth.

Thanks Be to God.

I have come to believe that a lot of people questioning or seeking will lurk on Catholic web forums for a while. I think the forums are a REALLY important evangelization tool. I also think it’s important to keep the truly Roman Catholic forums going. In other words, let us NOT rely on the National Catholic Reporter forums or forums to spread the truth of Roman Catholicism. Support your conservative Catholic forum of choice!

PS: This will be my last personal post for several days. I am participating in the 2,996 Tribute Project Look for my memorial honoring Mr. Ariel Louis Jacobs in the next few days.


Blogger Adoro Te Devote said...

The last personal post until after Sept 11? Why? Today is only the 6th!

I will be posting on that day, also, but unfortunately I can't find anything at all about her. She is British and apparently they don't post obituaries. And I don't know how to post a photo so I'll only be able to provide a link. Sadly, mine is going to be a dismal post in honor of a woman who really deserve much better than I can provide. :-(

So nothing from you for another WEEK? How can we live?

I am FASCINATED by your story.

September 06, 2006 8:12 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I have to work on Mr. Jacobs tribute. I have not had time to do any of the research on him which is why I announced my hiatus. I would like to get his memorial up by Saturday just because I think a lot of people will be starting to read 9/11 tributes over the weekend. I'll probably leave it up for a day or so after 9/11.

As Father Z told me: I worry too much. It's true, it's true.

If I can't find any information on him, then my post will be brief and my hiatus may be too.

Adoro, it's all on YOU, my sister in cathartic blogging, to carry the torch!

I'm flattered that you find my story engrossing. In the meantime, did you know that Diana Gabaldon's latest is now in paperback? That may keep you engrossed until I start up again. Perhaps, longer, since her work is very lengthy.


September 06, 2006 8:35 PM  
Blogger Angela Messenger said...

Cathy I found your post fascinating because my experience with an authentic Catholic website mirrors yours. I was formed and catechized at Catholic Online.

I came onto that board angry as all get out and looking for answers. One of my first posts was titled "I am for birth control - will I be kicked out of the church?" Oh - the shame of it all LOL!I am so totally NFP now I can hardly believe it myself.

After that hurdle was crossed I started picking away at other things I couldn't understand - male only ordination, the evil of homosexuality, why sex should be within the confines of holy matrimony, etc.

All my life these questions had been bubbling under the surface just waiting to burst out. I was so hungry for truth!

The forum was an excellent place to ask questions as I was anonymous. It was a place to try out what I learned. Occasionally someone new would join and would be questioning the evil of contraception so slowly I started writing little posts to give them answers. Eventually the posts became longer and better as the years went by.

I was introduced to other Catholic concepts I had never heard of yet when I studied them it was a feeling of "yes, yes, deep down I have believed that all along but never had the words to express it."

The forum was/is a real eye opener and it led me to make new, orthodox friendships in my parish. It has also introduced me to some very cool Catholics online and I value their insights and friendship.

September 06, 2006 11:34 PM  
Blogger bearing said...

I agree --- forums are great. I too was one of those who came into the church with all manner of heretical beliefs... I didn't want to be a heretic, it's just that no one had bothered to tell me the truth yet!

September 15, 2006 9:47 AM  

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