Monday, December 12, 2005

These Guys Need to Get Out More

There's an interesting article by Jonathan Last on Christian blogs in this months issue of First Things. Every month they put one article on the web, and this month, naturally enough, they put the article on blogs up here.

It's OK, except that Catholic blogs get rather over played. After listing the "most important" blogs, Jonathan Last notes:

All these blogs share two distinguishing characteristics: They’re Catholic, and they’re conservative.

Rather than admitting the obvious, harmless fact -- he's a Catholic himself and his "research" for this article consisted of running down his "Favorites" file and typing up notes -- he prefers to offer this "explanation":

As the GodblogCon organizer John Mark Reynolds explains, “Most Godblogs in the United States are going to end up being Roman Catholic because most people who are Christian in the United States, in the Nicene Christian sense, are Roman Catholic. . . . And taken as a whole in our culture, it has been harder for traditional theists to get a microphone than for secularists—at least in print. So blogging has been, by and large, better for the right religiously than for the left.” Or, as Father Sibley puts it, “Orthodox blogs get more readership just as Rush Limbaugh gets more listeners than Air America does.” [Emphasis added.]

Now it depends on how you define "Nicene" here; if you define the One Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church in a specifically Roman enough sense I suppose that might be true. But if Nicene is being used as a synonym for "traditional theists" this is a bit of egregious (but not uncommon) Metroliner Corridor parochialism.

For those of you who haven't ventured into that very small, provincial world that exists along the Amtrak line from Washington DC to Boston, let me explain that Catholics are about half the population. The rest is maybe about a third Jewish, a third Protestant, and a third other. People who live in that area rarely get out and see the rest of the country, and are frequently subject to the delusion that these percentages pertain from sea to shining sea. And since the Protestants there are generally of the liberal sort (as are the Catholics too, but let's not mention that), they get the feeling that Newman was right and all non-Catholics are automatically liberals, and all conservatives automatically Catholic.

The reality in the big, wide country out here is a bit different: Protestants outnumber Catholics by about 2.5 to one, and Catholics are at best statistically indistinguishable from mainline Protestants in their belief in major tenets of "traditional theism", such as that God is the all-powerful creator or that Jesus lived a sinless life on earth. (Documentation on those last ones here; scroll down to the tables at the very bottom.)