Charitableness in the Forums

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I had the idea of composing some sort of prayer asking God to help all of us be more charitable toward one another in these forums, but I’m finding that I’m too exhausted for the task… so I’ll just give more of an exhortation, I guess.

I was recently drawn to this site largely because of a very good experience with another Catholic message board which, unfortunately, was simply far less active than this one. It was common practice there to post “thank-you’s” for helpful advice, offers of prayer, or even mildly insightful comments.

Here, on the other hand, there seems to be many more messages that are rude, condescending, or just plain mean-spirited. This is certainly not the case with all posters, but it is troubling to see so much of it. A couple of examples of seemingly entire threads getting very chippy very quickly are the whole debate on hand-holding during the Lord’s Prayer and one debating the merits of homeschooling versus Catholic schools.

Maybe I am just focusing too much on the negative, but I really feel that some of the comments I have seen in my short time here have been detrimental to the spirit of the forums and a poor reflection of our faith. What do you all think?
Thanks for bringing that up. My husband advised me once that emails by nature can be mean because we’re anonymous.

Thank you for bringing this up! I have been planning to write just such a post, but wasn’t sure where to post it.

This is the first forum I have participated in. I have made some observations, and I would like to make some suggestions.
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     I agree with BK80734; can we please be more charitable to each other, to other cultures that we do not understand, and to our priests and bishops?  As several have pointed out there are many non-Catholics on this forum, and pettiness here will not help to bring them home.  Prefacing a statement with IMHO (in my humble opinion) does not allow the statement to be rebellious or non-humble.
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     I am disappointed in the anti-protestantism.  Comments like, “They just want to make the Mass more protestant,” is not specific and doesn’t help us improve our worship.  Although I disagree with some of their theology, I have learned a great deal about the Bible, fervency in worship, and my relationship with Jesus from the Evangelicals.
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     Please, please read and write carefully!  Many angry comments I have seen here result simply from misreading another post or an unclear statement (such as a misplaced modifier or leaving out the word “not”).  Since this is not a chat room, we have time to be more careful.  I write my posts in Word, then cut and paste them into the forum.  This way, I have as much time as I need as well as the spell checker.  Also, remember that shortcuts such as IMHO become exclusive to new users and certainly to non-native English speakers.
Thanks to everyone for your passion and your love of Jesus and His Church! I appreciate Catholic Answers for creating a community in which we can grow in our faith.

I jokingly mentioned to my wife that the apologetics forum was an area where the catholics and non-catholics can fight it out, and the liturgy forum was an area where the “conservative” catholics could fight it out with the “liberal” catholics. This was the impression I got after my first couple of days on the board.

Where I have posted replies, I have tried to make my replies as clear and constructive as possible. I am not sure if I succeeded, so in the spirit of charitableness, I would like to take the opportunity to apologise to anyone I may have offended in any way in any of my postings.
Here, on the other hand, there seems to be many more messages that are rude, condescending, or just plain mean-spirited.
As we were discussing on another thread, these are subjective terms. Many seem to interpret any disagreement or attempts at clarification or discussion as rude, etc. This is a common problem in many online forums. People that are probably shy and quiet in person post expecting congratulations and “me too” 's and when they get something different, they lash out. We have several people here who seem to like to argue in circles, and that doesn’t help either. But all in all, this seems to be a pretty mild-mannered site. It’s all in how you perceive things, I guess.
I noticed the same “fist-fighting” going on throughout the boards.

I am trying to remedy this with a quote I found in Sirach 1:26 on hypocrisy.

Let’s be Christ to others!
This is the worst thread in the forum. if you want charitableness, join the episcopal church. if you want the truth, stop acting like hippie whimps- but like warriors.
Putting on the mind of Christ according to Phillipians means having humility, not thinking we are divine.

Thank you, BK80734, for your reminder,
This is the worst thread in the forum. if you want charitableness, join the episcopal church. if you want the truth, stop acting like hippie whimps- but like warriors.
Sorry Dutch, but your post is a perfect example of a snippy, poorly thought out comment. You probably don’t realize it, but it sounds un-Christian, actually…

Thankyou for this thread. I’ve noticed the same thing and was starting to feel discouraged. I’m trying to avoid reading threads that are controversial, myself. Yes, the handholding thread was filled with anger out of porportion, IMO. Also the ones on music and handclapping.

Most people you’ll find in the liturgy section are fed up with the hippie effeminate garbage that has infiltrated the Mass. We’re passionate about our faith and if that offends someone, too bad.

I’ve already been warned about insulting someone –I was wrong. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be critical. If you don’t like it, don’t read the threads. The Episcopal Church is perfect for feminist and hippies. I’m sure they have a “charitable” forum somewhere.
Dear Dutch,
I think it’s your choice of words that is the problem. Calling someone a ‘hippie wimp’ is totally unnecessary. That is insulting language and I’m sure a good Christian such as yourself can be more careful and avoid name-calling.

Telling people to join another church if they want charity is also a flippant. I think that Catholics ought to be charitable to one another as well. I’m certain that if you take a little time before clicking ‘submit’ you can find a more intelligent way of expressing yourself. 🙂 Do you preview your post? I find that helps.

Sincerely, WhiteDove
White Dove,

I’m saying “hippie-whimp” in general. I didn’t mean you, I have no idea who you are. I’ll stop now.
Dear Dutch,
I know you didn’t mean me. I am a little bit of a hippie though, but not a wimp! I don’t wear makeup, I had all my kids at home, I do organic gardening, I like to eat natural foods…Anyways, I didn’t take your comments personally.

As far as the Episcopal Church, in the liturgy dept., I hear they are very traditional and reverent. They kneel at the altar rail for communion, I’m told. The problem with them, as everyone knows, is their stance on sexual morals…
Sincerely, WhiteDove
…But that doesn’t mean we can’t be critical…
To criticize has two meanings:

(1) Blame
(2) Review

In my opinion, we can evaluate others faith systems and “criticize” it in an objective manner. In other words, we should review their belief system and come to a conclusion based on our findings of them.
White Dove,

I’m saying “hippie-whimp” in general. I didn’t mean you, I have no idea who you are. I’ll stop now.
Your much too young to be telling off people who have been around the block longer than you anyway.Your coming up on the three O from your profile, so it’s time to join the adults and leave the things of childhood behind.
God Bless,

I could put anything in my profile. it doesn’t mean it is accurate. You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Second, if you’re offended by my hippie-whimp coment, that is your problem. I stand by what I said.

Get out of the sixties. The sexual revolution ruined family life and is the downfall of our country’s morality. Hippies are people who stood for that.
Dutch, I think this is one of the best threads. I think you can make any point you need to make without name-calling, generalizations, and insults. You can be a warrior, but you need to remember that we are not all your enemies. I think people listen so much better when you temper your words with a little kindness and don’t always assume people have the worst motives. For instance, most people who hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer are not trying to bring about the fall of the Church. Most simply do not realize that they are causing anyone a problem. I think this is being slowly but surely changed. For instance, everyone in our church used to hold hands but our bishop made us aware that that is not a common posture everywhere and holding hands was not in the rubrics. He didn’t say we couldn’t, he just said it was not called for (almost making it like "you don’t have to hold hands, it isn’t required) and you know what? No one does anymore, at least at the mass I was at yesterday. So maybe some would have lambasted him for not being harsher but maybe he was wise in realizing that if he just gives people time to adjust, change is effected without causing pain and resentment. Don’t want to start that debate again. I no longer go on the hand holding thread because of the rude behavior. Just giving an example of someone making effective change while being kind and civil.

And Melman, I agree it is a little subjective because sometimes the tone of our voice would make something sound okay but in an email when the tone is absent, there can be misunderstandings. I think generally calling names like nutcase or wimps constitutes rudeness. Also, saying something like “Let me type this s-l-o-w-l-y so you can understand” is also rude because you are implying that the other person is slow. Since I work in special ed with people who are actually a little slow to understand but usually sweet and loving, I really find that offensive. It is not fair to assume someone is stupid because they disagree with you. Well, I guess you can assume it if you want, but you shouldn’t post it. 😃

Also, just another observation but I wish people would not quote whole posts. If I use a quote from someone else’s, I usually delete the part of the quote I don’t need, leaving only the line I want to address. There may be a hi-tech way to do this(if so let me know) but I just think it makes it easier to understand what point I am making if I only quote the statement that I am debating. Also, sometimes I see people repost whole huge long posts as a quote and then say “Good post!” or even nothing at all. Couldn’t we just say, “Good post, ______!” and let people go back and read it? Just seems more efficient! 🙂
We now have over 5,600 members registered at these forums. Some days we have over 2,000 new messages. There is no way that our moderators are able to keep track of so much–unless other members help.

Let us know if you see posts (or even entire threads) that feature improper language or rude remarks. Already we have disciplined several members and have had to ban about a dozen. We don’t intend to let these forums dissolve into acrimony, something that has ruined forums elsewhere.

There are some people who are incapable of dealing with disagreements and who want to be patted on the back each time they post an innocuous message. Such people probably will not find peace at any forum. Already I have had to counsel one such person, who was filing complaint and complaint about quite innocent postings.

The much larger problem is at the other end of the scale: people who display too much “attitude.” This is manifested mainly in name calling and in labels. As Churchill put it, this is something up with which we will not put.

That may mean losing a few dozen people who, underneath the “attitude,” have something useful to say, but we’re willing to make that trade-off. High-level disagreement is fine–and welcome–but these annoyances are not.
Dear Karl,
That sounds like a reasonable policy. One thing I think is important is for people not to overreact to someone else’s overreaction. In other words, let’s not all be so easily offended! It’s better to let snippy comments pass and avoid temptation for a snappy comeback. Or else, gently point out that they might make their point better if they reworded their post.
Sincerely, WhiteDove
I would first like to thank you for loving the Catholic faith so much, it will ultimately lead you to great peace in life.
Sometimes we can use and abuse our faith to justify things that are just plain against Jesus. We cannot be racist or judgmental, which many of us are guilty of on these forums. If we are to imitate Christ, then we must present ourselves with the utmost respect and charity. Perhaps it would be good to talk with a priest or counsellor, is it sounds like some difficult times in your past are affecting relationships with others. Let us love one another, not throw attacks at eachother.
In Christ,

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