No, the title's not a typo. It's Latin. "Scandal" comes from "scandalum". It's means "stumbling block", "temptation", or "trap". With all the talk of priestly impropriety and pro-choice Catholics, it's easy to miss more ordinary forms of scandal. Each one of us can be a stumbling block to someone else's faith. Non-Catholics, and non-Christians in general, see us as representatives of the Church. Our pompous self-righteousness doesn't jive well with Christ's message, and we look like hypocrites as a result.
I've often thought about this as I've read posts and comments on Mark Shea's rather caustic blog. There, and other places in St. Blog's, I've encountered what Disputations referred to as the Star Chamber.
Given the choice, I personally would rather be in a Church with confused, ignorant, and overly protective troublemakers than with well-catechized and theologically educated people who don't give a rat's ass about the confused and the ignorant.
Another scandal is created by those who constantly blame and harangue the Church. They undermine other people's faith in the Church. If we do not respect Church authority and leadership, how can we expect others to? Mark Windsor, of Vociferous Yawpings, summed this up well as he closed up shop, unable to bear the vitriole any longer.
It seems to me that St. Blogs is in something of an adolescent rage. There are people out there who like nothing better than to complain about the Church. I've even taken to calling them the 'blame the Church first crowd.'… They've begun spreading their disaffection at every opportunity in every comments box they can find. Some readers are drawn to their cataclysmic view; their faith challenged, broken, or at the very least altered and nearly unrecognizable. To speak out against them is to be considered uncultured; blind, ignorant, otherworldly. Even the blogs that attempt to do some good, and come close to doing so at times, attract those that seek to poison the Church and all she stands for…. The harshness I've seen, that Sherry Weddell notes above and that Mark Shea has argued against for ages, has become so dominant that I no longer see a valid reason to continue this blog.
It's a shame Mark decided to leave the blogosphere. I've never read his blog, but he seems like a kind, compassionate, and level-headed person, and the internet and St. Blog's need more of those. Laudem Gloriae has a different take on the departure.
The comments at Not So Quiet Catholic corner got so bad that comments are now disabled there. I don't agree with that decision at all. A blog without comments is only half a blog. Without comments, it's too easy to be prideful. We need constructive criticism to keep us humble. Still, I can certainly understand being frustrated with mean and spiteful comments.
This morning, this blog became an occasion for scandal. Someone who I consider to be a kind, considerate, and faithful person, insulted a fellow reader. The person who was insulted happens to be an atheist. While I'm neither holding my breath in anticipation of a conversion, nor actively proselytizing him, I don't think personal attacks are likely to bring him back.
Here I am, trying to be one of those honorable bloggers who manages to speak out with unpopular perspectives without attacking people for their personality, marriageability, etc., when along comes yet another Christian testifying to the transformative power of her faith. Lovely.
There are enough stumbling blocks to faith. I'd rather not add more. Before commenting, please think about whether your words will draw others to Christ or cause scandal. I'll step off my soapbox now and let Ghandi close for me.
"I would be a Christian if it wasn't for the Christians!"
"Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."