"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Many thanks to The Revealer -- as worthy a candidate for a hall-of-fame nameplate as any – for including yours truly in its page of St. Blog's links.
The Revealer is a thoughtful and smartly-designed review of religion and the press edited by Jeff Sharlet out of the Center for Religion and Media at NYU. Press critic Jay Rosen spotlighted the site on its launch in January.
Yesterday's edition carried an interesting item on how little St. Blog's has registered on the mainstream newspaper radar:
Paulson and Steinfels are both brilliant reporters. When it comes to Catholicism, they're two of the most knowledgeable journalists in the secular press. So what does it mean that both consider St. Blog's Parish outside their beat?
Paulson was quick to note that the internet had transformed the grumblings of a few into the revolt of many, as the laity formed online communities to trade information about abusive priests, but he was speaking primarily of email; St. Blog's, he said, was not as influential.
Steinfels, meanwhile, said he had never been to "this St. Blog's site."
So The Revealer wonders: Just how big is St. Blog's? And how much does it matter to the future of the Church? This is not just a question for Catholics, but for all bloggers -- can blog communities genuinely challenge or transform real-world communities? Or are they simply steam valves for malcontents, exhibitionists, and know-it-alls? Discuss.
My quick take is that many newspaper reporters – busy each day cranking out their own stuff for their own papers – aren't yet surfing the blogosphere; and Paulson and Steinfels, looped into the orbit of the Rolodex and the established talking heads of the theology departments, might have made the occasional Belief.net foray, but don't appear to have caught on to the activity in the blogs.
Bill Cork has been researching the early history of St. Blog's and has noted the proliferation of sites, at a rate of one every couple days, in the spring of 2002. Yet the Catholic blogosphere apparently still remains terra incognita to many in the Commoweal-America circuit: Witness the recent piece by the quizzical librarian in the former.
St. Blog's may be a small sampling of Catholic opinion, and perhaps an unrepresentative one, but is it any smaller or more unrepresentative than, say, the Voice of the Faithful membership the Globe reporters tend to look to for man-in-the-street trends?