Sometimes when you know you have touched a nerve when the patient jumps.
Being a blogger with the blessings and curses of some longevity in an infant media form, you come to accept hate mail and comments as the mud on the road you must travel.
Sometimes hate mail can be a blessing in that it causes the writer to examine his conscience and his craft, no matter the merits or methods of the critic. But sometimes there is another lesson to be gleaned from hate mail.
Recently, I wrote a post that far and away exceeded its respondent quota in vitriol and spittle. Usually I know when I am going to be on the receiving end of hate mail. But this time I was surprised.
Let me first say that all criticism, and I receive my fair share and then some, is not hate mail. I well know the difference.
I recently wrote a post that flooded my inbox and combox with accusations of everything from apostasy, treachery, and even sedevacantism. So many angry and deleted comments, so many angry and ignored emails, accusing me of all the former and everything in between.
I think I fairly state that I didn’t take this feedback as a call to self-examination of my craft or criticisms, for I offered none. You see, the post that garnered such a strong reaction had no commentary from me in it. Further, it contained no writing from me at all as it was composed simply and solely of papal quotes.
I simply placed quotes from Pope Francis next to those of previous pontiffs who spoke ex cathedra. I left it entirely to the reader to determine if they seemed congruous or not. Reconcilable or not. Whether a hermeneutic of continuity was a lens of sufficient thickness to bend light in ways currently unknown to physics.
For this lack of commentary, I was excoriated as the worst sort of Papal detractor, people having forgotten the meaning of blockquotes.
Why? Why this post? Why not all the thousands of words I have written on this time in the Church? Why would this post garner such reaction?
I think that the answer is clear. Commentary is easily dismissed as biased opinion, no matter how well grounded. But to simply lay out papal quotes without any mitigation or explanation, in naked contradiction, the bareness was simply too much to bear.
I shocked the ostrich and I got kicked.
I think there is a lesson in this.