What equals nine?

What do you wantOne of the interesting things about “blogging” is what happens off-line. WordPress has a feature for “comments” and it is a controllable feature. You can allow all comments and then remove inappropriate ones as you see fit. But then that means you have to monitor; sometimes manners and charity are not hallmarks of text and comments left behind. It takes time. Not willing to dedicate time to the supervising task? The blog administrator can not allow any comments at all.  That takes no additional time to oversee. There is at least one “middle way.” You can allow comments but require that all comments be approved before they are posted on one’s blog. That takes some time, but you have the luxury of getting to such things when you have time.

Blogs, comments, …. I have been musing about this for a while. I am at the beach, laptop on my lap, with the luxury of getting around to such things…. anyway….

There are lots of folks out there who specialize in “drive by comments.” They have a standard text saved on their device clipboard, search for blogs writing about their topic of the day, find their targets, paste in the text – whether it really has anything to do with the blog’s actual content – and then move on. My limited experience with all this leads me to surmise these folks are not in the mainstream of thought.  But then again what equals nine? 8+1=9. True… and so does 5+4, 7+2, etc.  Heck even 14-5 does. So maybe the dialogue needs to be widen? Just because my sense of the mainstream is 5+4=9, doesn’t mean that 8+1 shouldn’t part of it all.  But what about 7+4 (or any alternative that just does not add up to 9)?

Most of the “drive by comments” are in the 7+4 category; lacking context and often manners or charity. Such comments are sent into the ether with the click of a mouse.

About a week ago I posted Practiced Hospitality which talks about being truly welcoming as a church community. Someone commented that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI can not validly resign, thus he was still Pope, and Pope Francis was an anti-pope, impostor, and about to lead the Church into perdition. (The writer did not actually write “perdition,” but I think I have fairly summarized the 100+ words that were used.) I pondered its connection to being a welcoming community. Such a connected eluded me, alas.

I was tempted to let the comment be posted, if only to see if another crowd of folks would stumble upon the comment and note that Pope Pius XII was the last valid pope, hence even St. Pope John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, St. Pope John Paul II, and Benedict XVI were themselves all anti-popes. Oh yes, and Vatican II is to be ignored since it was called by an anti-pope. But it seemed to me better to let them simply take the time to host their own blog. And then they can decide among themselves what comments they will or will not post.

One such “drive-by” would be commentator recently deduced my email and sent a rather long missive. (it arrive in my junk folder). Brevity was not a strong point of the missive, but here is the summary: I lack moral courage and conviction. In other words, would it be that I possessed such virtues, I would clearly post the comment and defend my erroneous, nay heretical positions. Let me borrow from St. Joan of Arc as to the question of whether I am in the state of grace regarding moral courage: “If I am not, my God put there; and if I am, may God keep me so.”

I suspect what I lack is time…and, besides, my dad once told me to never argue with a fool since a third person hearing the conversation would be unable to tell the difference. Sounds a little harsh?  Maybe the Kenyan version is softer to one’s senses: “If you are bathing in the river and someone steals you clothes, don’t chase them.”  (think about it…. what does a third person see? A naked, screaming person chasing someone…).

What equals 9? It is part of what I muse about when there is an email awaiting a response, a comment crying to be posted, a voice mail lingering, and a note to return a call – what to do? A good guide may be “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas – unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things.” When things don’t add up to “9,” may we always practice charity in our replies.

In the meantime I have no plans to run naked and screaming thru the blog-o-sphere. It is as my dad also said: “The main thing is making sure that the main thing remains the main thing.” My main thing? The people of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa. This blog? Nice. The parish? Priceless – way greater than “9.”

8 thoughts on “What equals nine?

  1. I don’t know if there’s a technical term for it but I call them ‘Spam comments’ and ‘Spam likers’.

    All I ask is that Likes and Comments be for real. And as I’ve posted (often) in various places, it seems that too many people count comments and likes as if they were collected scalps hanging from the belt. Are some people truly so lacking in self-esteem that they need trophies?

    As for nine —a truly perfect number and ideal for diagramming the old “Thinking outside the square” thing. Love it …

  2. I’ve dealt with spam but not drive-by commenters. Seems like the drive-by folks have an agenda and look for even remotely connected topics or forums for their posts. Not as bad as spammers but I’d take the drive-by posters in stride (but also moderate their comments out because they don’t add anything to the subject at hand). Nicely written post, by the way.

  3. Reblogged this on The Seeker and commented:
    A funny post.
    Question: What do you do with a “drive by commentators?” This reminds me of drive by “likers”. I call them hit-and-run. Worst are post that use “pingbacks”

  4. As a parishioner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, it is a privilege to hear your homilies on a regular basis, read this blog and benefit from your words of wisdom on a daily basis. You are a bright light that points to God and Christ, and I am grateful to you for who you are — a Franciscan friar and priest and our Pastor! I hope your vacation has been a blast!

  5. I had to reread your blog twice, as I am not accustomed to you in a relaxed “Jimmy Buffet” mode. I am guessing the arrival of your new brothers has brought great joy and peace, enough so to send you off for a well-deserved respite.
    To the point of your post—I do not believe in censorship on any level, but I trust your judgment and caution as whether or not to post “off- the- wall / off –the- topic” responses. With that said, I do believe our community is savvy enough to decide the credibility of the comments and varying points of view.
    For example, I always chuckle when you use the metaphor “(think about it…. what does a third person see? A n a k e d, screaming person chasing someone…).” I find this humorous, because in many parts of Europe this scene would be completely normal on a beach or even center city. The screaming, maybe not, but certainly the uncovered state. This other point of view culturally and comfortably speaks to a sense of wellness and health in this part of the world.
    I hope you are inspired to continue to muse this week, as your musing moments on the blog are my favorite. To paraphrase and rephrase your point “The main thing: our community, a gift from God; your blog, intellectual stimulating; our Pastor, incalculable invaluable.”

  6. I love how candidly this is written and witty, too.. I suppose my comments have not gone into trash and I must say, I was deligthed that I received an answer from you once.

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