Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Don't Read That Stuff

This is the overwhelming opinion that has been offered to me, both in this blogspace and in phone conversations with various friends. They are talking about the conservative blogs/ magazines/ news outlets, in which the nastiness can be pretty devastating. These are places where my personhood, my call to ministry, my right, even, to call myself a Christian... all these are not just called into doubt, but actively denied.

Just don't read it, huh?

Why can't I stop?

Why do I persist in reading?

Is it the tiny, yet unkillable hope that I might find an opening somewhere for my comment-- for my opportunity to change just one heart or mind?

Is that an unreasonable thing?

I've definitely cut down.

But it's hard to stop.


more cows than people said...

(((cecilia))) thanks for listening the other day. and i do wish you could stop reading this painful stuff, but so long as you do keep reading, know we're here to listen.

Lisa said...

Cecelia, I don't want to preach at you, or even to you. I can't tell you what to do. So I'll just tell you about me. When I discovered the blogosphere in late 2003, I read those UBERcon sites too. I discovered that they made me angry and hurt. I tried to engage in some discussion -- with the same kind of hopes you express here. It's not going to happen, Cecelia. The reasonable ones wander over to sites like Jake's, and there they can be engaged in dialogue. But the sites like SF and VenomOnline are merely the Web equivalents of a pit-bull fight: folks gather there hoping only to see some blood shed.

I'll close with this analogy: Would you hang out in a strip club in hopes that you might encounter someone who can see your true humanity? No, because you would recognize that's not the place where such dialogue can happen. And more importantly, because patronizing that club supports a true evil.

And that's all I'll say about that.

I hope I have not over-stepped.

Know that I respect you a great deal and am supportive.

Jan said...

Cecilia, remember me mentioning my 25 year old gay daughter? She is brilliant, caring, and righteous in her anger. I don't know that she looks at conservative posts, but she will NOT stop reading the conservative emails her grandmother sends her, even though AE has told this grandmother NOT to send them to her. (I delete the emails without reading them). AE sends her angry replies, and she told me that every one gives grandma too much slack and shouldn't because she's a racist. The problem is that neither will change, and I think each is trying to "convert" the other. (At least grandma is NOT MY mother.)

Maybe you're right, that it is the hope of light/love or something else besides judgment coming out.

I wish you two wouldn't read such stuff. My thoughts are with you.

Suzer said...

I understand why you read it, Cecilia. I used to, too, though on more moderate sites. Even the more moderate places can get ugly. It may be something you have to continue for a while, until you can come to a place where you can place a boundary where it needs to be. Sometimes I think we need to experience the awfulness of humanity (even if just online, I wish to God it would only be so) in order to claim the true Love and Grace God offers us. We need to make a conscious choice to live with the positive.

Feeling you can make some difference in those places is only natural, and you may in fact be supporting people who lurk there, and you never know who may be touched by your presence and not say so. But it does take a strong constitution to remain. Too long in that negativity and it rubs off. Take care of yourself, ok?

Mother Laura said...

I understand the fascination to some extent, as I had it for a long long time with archconservative sexist Catholic stuff. No idea how the dynamics are the same and different, but for me it was a combo of: 1. Being drawn to the good parts of what they were about that were a true part of my call and spirituality. 2. Being torn/seduced by shame and anxiety that they might actually be right about me after all. 3. Not having a way to fully live my path, knowledge of what it was, and especially a community to live it with. Because if there is one thing people like that do have it is a strong community. Excluding others and seeing things in black and white automatically bonds the in-group and having that acceptance can be a huge appeal to giving up one's own truth for the right to break in....especially if, as in my case, the path outside is lonely and unclear.

That all naturally dropped away as I found my own path and community, now in the joyous fullness of combining the wonderful aspects of the traditional liturgy/devotion/theology, which were worth much of the pain to learn deep in my heart and share with others, with the absolute knowledge of how wrong they are on the abusive parts and stepping fully into my power to live that by accepting consecration and holding the center for an amazing community. I'm guessing the same will happen as you get clearer and clearer on your own path and the community God is preparing for you.

If it gives you stress to find yourself drawn there you might very consciously picture/address Jesus or God and/or angels and/or beloved holy patrons in the way that makes you feel most loved and invite him/her to come with you to those places, hold you close as you read, help you take in any gift that is there for you, shield you from any damage, and heal inside whatever is stirred up by all of this.

Much love and prayers, and would you like me to offer the eucharist for you sometime next week when I get back from the next bishop gig in NY? This week's queue is full, but I will definitely pray for you.

(((hugs))) and love. You are amazing.

Oh, and I found a little something for you in Phoenix, if you would be so gracious as to trust me with a snailmail address and preferred name that will get an envelope safely to you. You can email me at
I am guessing that

Cynthia said...

I know the draw to those extremist hatemongers. I read them for a long time, thinking I needed to leave another type of opinion, stated in such a way that it wouldn't be automatically shut out. I felt it a responsibility. I had to give up. It just caused too much pain. Only you know what's right for you, and I'll second more cows, we're here to listen.

KJ said...

Hey Cecelia,

Definitely do not do the conservative blogs if they are upseting -- I think we can become ill rolling in the you know what. That is why I stear clear of political blogs.

As I've written before, I've picked one at which to hang out, and only contribute when felt led. Being a creedal fundamentalist fluent in evangelical, I can't but help to confron the stereotypes.

Mary Sue said...

Oh, I've tried that meself. It's hard to stop. I wonder if it's a self-harm thing, sometimes.

And then there's the days when I look at my stats and realise that one of THEM has linked to me.

MadPriest said...

Sorry to do this to you (heck, it's going to ruin my reputation in liberal circles) but BIBLICALLY we are advised to turn our backs on, and walk away from, such people. As the words of Christ tend to be for our good, not his, I assume his advice on this matter is solely for our own good, as well.

muerk said...

I'm a RC (politically left, morally orthodox/traditional) and I read both sides of the Anglican debate because it interests me.

My opinion - for what it's worth...

I see venom on both sides of the debate. Standfirm people are so angry because they see the traditional doctrine of what is sinful in God's eye as being taken away from them through an orchestrated campaign of activists.

Over at Jake's people are so angry because they see their sexual orientation, their very notion of who they are, as being hated. They aren't supported in their essential selves.

I'm a convert and the thing that held me back for some years was Catholicism's teaching on homosexuality. But deep down, as a long time reader of Scripture, I sincerely believe that God created us (via evolution probably) to sexually unite as man and woman in marriage for life.

I don't think people choose to be gay/lesbian, a few may. I do think that for many sexual attraction can be fluid, for others it seems set in stone. I think it's a spectrum really.

But I also think God has an ideal that we are called to follow. For some, celibate life is what God wants. But I don't think we can now change what was formally seen as sinful behavior and now claim that it's actually not.

God is unchanging, and I believe He spoke through Scripture and Tradition, despite the fact that it deeply wounds many people with same sex attraction.

btw, I'm also traditional RC on such things as contraception, abortion, men-only ordination... Just to be open about my beliefs.

I just wanted you to know there are some sincere and (hopefully) non-venomous people out there. We disagree on many things, but you and I are still sisters in Christ.

May God bless you and keep you.

muthah+ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cecilia said...

I am deeply grateful, as always, for the thoughtfulness and genuine pastoral outreach of these comments.

You have all given me much food for thought. Muerk, thank you for being a voice that seeks to bridge the gap. You simply saying that we are sisters in Christ is a significant and welcome departure from some (many) of our brothers and sisters on the right.

Peace, and thank you.


muerk said...

Cecelia :)

We are TOTALLY sisters in the wider church of Our Lord!!!

Having read your blog you come across as a thoughtful, loving, gentle person. Certainly your taste in music rocks. You obviously love God and are trying to sincerely live out His Holy Gospel.

We disagree, but disagreement does not have to be hateful. And in the end I think that the hateful arrogance and hurtful venom will be a deeper sin creating a wider separation from God than anything we do sexually trying to find love.

Big hugs... You are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

The sites can get toxic if you allow yourself to get emotionally involved, or if you are feeling vulnerable. Another danger is that it is all too easy to think of the posters at the sites as consciously being hateful to actual individuals. Truth is, the anonymity of the tooobs often encourages people to think of their opposite number as generic Straw Re-whatevers rather than live people, and also disinhibits people so that they say things that they might not say in person, ie, enables them to be jerks.

If one is emotionally detached and views study of the sites as "opposition research" (in political terms) or from the analytic viewpoint of sociology, psychology, rhetoric/ media studies, right-wing-ology can be a fascinating study. There ought to be some sort of goal, though, because just reading Virtuisms and Freeperisms ad nauseum gets tedious. Also, can give you the feeling of gaping at a carwreck/ freakshow - oooh look at the pinched face of that damn-you-fags-to-hell street preacher at Pride (probably the one sourpuss there).


johnieb said...

I may say that I rarely read such things; they upset me too much, and my health suffers as a result. I am trying, somewhat successfully, to give up the notion "I'm tough; I can take it": can, but needn't. For me, such borders, on both sides of the line, on self-abuse.

You and your beloved remain in my prayers.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Cecilia, I simply cannot go to those places. At widely spaced intervals, I check in, but I cannot remain more than a few minutes. They are absolutely toxic for me.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you my experience. They are poisonous.