The Problem With Patheos

I don’t care for Patheos.

There – I’ve said it.  It’s out for all to know and see.  Some people already knew that, some might have guessed it, but now it’s unequivocally declared.  I don’t care for it.

For the sake of the two or three out there who don’t know what a Patheos is…  It’s basically a one-stop shop website of all the major world religions – including atheism, which any atheist worth his or her salt will adamantly claim that atheism is not a religion – with the goal of providing fair and balanced information about those religions.  It’s a religion web portal with links that lead visitors to blogs, columns and reference materials regarding each belief system.  Many of you are familiar with the Catholic bloggers publishing there, some of whom include Mark Shea, the Crescat, Marc Barnes and Fr Longenecker, to name a few.

So what’s not to like, right?

Several things, in my opinion.

First off, let me be absolutely clear.  This isn’t about the bloggers – directly.  I have no axe to grind with any of the people who blog there – although I do have a challenge for them, which I’ll be getting to later on.  I don’t know any of them personally, and for the most part, regarding the blogs I regularly read before they migrated to Patheos, their sites are top-notch.  I believe they are true and faithful followers of Christ and His Church, and blog out of love for Christ and His Church, and aren’t doing this merely for the money.  I just choose not to patronize them anymore, or link to them.  Furthermore, I’m not upset/jealous/miffed that I’ve never been asked to join Patheos.  In fact, if they’re considering inviting me, here’s my pre-emptive answer:  Thanks, but no thanks.  Never in a thousand years.  For me, blogging is a hobby, and in my opinion, once money is involved (Patheos bloggers are paid in some degree or fashion – based upon page views and/or “clicks”, I believe), it no longer remains a hobby, but becomes a job.  I already have a job.  Not that there’s anything wrong with making money off blogging.  I’m all for folks earning some cash off of what they love to do.  I do believe, though, one ought to exercise discretion in choosing the venue whereby they earn said money.  But that’s my opinion, nothing more.

The whole concept of Patheos (which is an admixture of the words “path” and “theos” – thus, “path to god”) is to provide seekers a site where they can get unfiltered, balanced information on the world’s major faiths, and “engage in a global dialogue about religion and spirituality”, in a “safe and welcoming environment”.  In and of itself, that is not a bad thing.  The Internet is a rough and tumble place, full of inaccuracies and misrepresentations, so having a place that seeks to mitigate all that is good.  The creators of Patheos are committed to not supporting or endorsing any one religion.  Fine, I can accept that, too.  We live in a pluralistic society, and it’s good to inform oneself of what other faiths teach and believe so that interactions with real live flesh and blood people can be done with tact, respect and intelligence.

So far so good.

But where things break down for me, are in the details, regarding the Catholic portal itself.  In a word – awful.  Factual errors, and even some doctrinal squishiness.  Let’s take a look.  This is from the Religion Library: Roman Catholicism page:

Quick Facts

Roman Catholicism is a worldwide religious tradition of some 1.1 billion members. It traces its history to Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher in the area around Jerusalem during the period of Roman occupation, in the early 30s of the Common Era.

Notice any problems there?  Let’s see – the Church was formed much earlier than stated (and what’s with the PC “C.E.” crap?  Couldn’t the Catholic page at least use “A.D.”, seeing as how it was the Catholic Church that invented it in the first place?); there’s a discrepancy between the number of followers in the chart and in the first sentence – a difference of 10%.  And actually, according to an April 2010 Zenit article, the number is 1.167 billion members.  And if they wanted to be technical, Catholics – being Christian and all – follow Jesus Christ, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, through whom we come to God.  Finally, Jesus of Nazareth was much more than “an itinerant preacher” – the least they could have said was “It traces its history to Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Church teaches and believes to be the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, who taught and healed throughout Galilee, around the year 30 A.D.”

Here’s their sources for the “Quick Facts” page:

Quick Fact Sources include www.adherents.com, www.bbc.co.uk/religion, The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (2006), The Encyclopedia of Religion (2005), the Religious Movements Page at the University of Virginia, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (2002), and the Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999).

Hmmm.  Why not use data and material provided by the Catholic Church?  It’s not favoritism or implied endorsement should Patheos use accurate data and prime source material, direct from Catholic sources.  You know, Wikipedia might even be more accurate.  At least it would be more current.

That’s not all.  In the “Overview” section, there are a number of categories that go into slightly greater detail of what the Church teaches and professes.  For the most part, they’re not bad.  It’s unfortunate that there are virtually no citations from the Catechism, or Papal Encyclicals.  One section, called “Gender and Sexuality” spends most of the time talking about why women can’t be priests – and even states that “the question of women in the priesthood remains very much alive…”.  Well, that’s only true because there are so many of those who disagree with the doctrine of an all-male priesthood, and they won’t accept what the Church teaches.

Also, the topic of abortion.  In the “Religion Library” section, under “Topics”, is the heading “Abortion”.  Here you can find a number of articles written from various belief systems, including Catholicism.  Of the two columns there, the one that caught my eye is titled “Abortion From an Ethic of Compassion”.  Here’s part of what it says:

For many who believe that abortion is dangerous to a woman’s body and detrimental to her psychological wellbeing, this will still mean that abortion should be banned. To those who see abortion as basically safe, although accompanied by the attendant risks carried by all medical procedures, it will mean that the woman should be entrusted with the decision about how to proceed. Compassion for a woman finding herself in the difficult position of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy means not just sympathizing with her position, but giving her a full range of options on how to deal with it and providing love and support, not judgment and condemnation, about the decision she makes.

I’m sorry, but that’s not a Catholic position.  Abortion kills a child.  Abortion is an intrinsic evil – that’s the Catholic position.  Yes, we are to be compassionate towards those who chose to have one, but not by being merely sympathetic and providing “a full range of options”.  That’s being complicit with evil.

Here’s the thing – if some of these basic things on the Catholic page are incorrect or squishy, then is it logical to presume that the other faith channels have inaccuracies on them as well?  How could anyone trust that what they’re reading is correct, if they go to another website – or one of the Patheos Catholic blogs – that states something completely different?  That represents a problem, in my estimation.

What else?  Well, on the Catholic Portal page, there’s a link to the National Catholic Reporter.  Seriously?  I doubt none of the bloggers there link to that publication.  Granted, prior to Patheos’ recent launch of Version 3.0, there were links to America and Commonweal, too, so I guess this is sort of an improvement.  But the Distorter is probably the most non-Catholic Catholic publication out there.  I would have expected better.

And then there are all the ads.  I get it – it takes money to run a big website, what with servers, bandwidth, office space and salaries (hey! Patheos is hiring too!).  It’s a big time operation, and that’s how it makes its revenue and pays their bloggers.  But the site looks like a NASCAR vehicle.   And many of the same ads show up on the blogs as well.  I know that the bloggers have no control over which ads show up, but it’s strange reading Francis Beckwith’s blog, and there are 3 Mormon.org ads.  Not that I have anything against the Mormons – but I have to ask myself:  would those ads be on any of these blogs if there wasn’t any compensation involved?

At the bottom of each blog, there is an “All Things Patheos” banner with links to different Faith Channels, Resources and other sites.  Would these bloggers link to these sites, some of which are inimical to Catholicism (such as atheism), or are heretical in nature (such as Protestant sites), if they weren’t collecting to what basically constitutes a paycheck?  Believe me, I understand – it’s the price one pays for being part of Patheos, or any such organization.  To me, it would seem to knock one’s integrity a bit to state day in and day out “The Catholic faith is the One True Faith which provides the surest means of salvation”, while at the same time linking to sites that either deny God, decry people of faith, or have contrary views of salvation.  But that’s just me.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say “sell out”, but I don’t recall seeing any such links prior to them becoming Patheos members.  Again, it’s just the cost of membership to be on the team.

Patheos -the site itself – is very popular, and has a huge following.  It’s soon to be the biggest religious portal site on the Internet.  To which I say – so what.  I know I’m not influential in any great or small capacity, where my opinion will make a difference one way or another, but since a few people over the past few weeks asked me what I thought, I figured why not write about it.  Yeah, this isn’t as funny as Star Trek, but I’ve given some of the reasons for my dissent.  And who knows – maybe it will give others pause to think and consider.

Earlier I wrote I was going to present a challenge to the Catholic Patheos team: Writing for Patheos implies endorsement of the information and material presented on the Catholic reference pages – at least that’s how I view it.  Some of that data is inaccurate, and perhaps not as strong as it could be.  I think it behooves you to review what is said about the Catholic faith on the Patheos site, correct what is wrong and strengthen what is weak and inadequate.  It’s your workplace – clean it up.  If you think there’s nothing wrong with the information and material as it’s currently presented…well, then maybe it is merely for the money.

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142 responses

  1. Wow….I had a glimmer of a ponder because I do frequent Patheos that it isn’t as fisked Catholic as the hearts of those who blog there, because I do feel that Mark Shea and Mark Barnes and Deacon Greg and the Anchoress and the Crescat all offer tremendous witness of their faith, of how do you manage an interfaith portal and proclaim the Gospel when you are side by side denoting equality and fraternity with sects of paganism and athiesm…as though personal taste is the distinction, and that there is no difference beyond skin deep.

  2. Patheos happens when we become cowards.

    We do not stand for Truth, we treat it as something that just is.

    This Patheos site brings everyone in and accepts all their remarks and opinions and points them to some sort of god.

    We become scandalized and turn from Truth.

    That’s what Patheos is.

    Our lack of Charity.

    “In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men…

    …All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics.

    Oh!

    If I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit:

    What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands?

    The answer would not be doubtful:

    With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries.

    And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.”

    Pope St. Pius X, Discourse he pronounced on December 13, 1908 at the Beatification of Joan of Arc.

    *

  3. “…I do feel that Mark Shea and Mark Barnes and Deacon Greg and the Anchoress and the Crescat all offer tremendous witness of their faith, of how do you manage an interfaith portal and proclaim the Gospel when you are side by side denoting equality and fraternity with sects of paganism and athiesm…”

    That’s ridiculous.

    They did not specifically choose Patheos for that reason.

    I think their actions were innocent.

    *

  4. larryd, you say that when I click on a blogger on Patheos that puts money in his/hers pockets, even if it’s someone like Mark Shea, whom I utterly detest. I don’t think that’s fair. Patheos ought to have a feature that allows you to take money away from someone who pushes the nonsence that Mark and his kind do.

  5. Larry – you’re a brave man. God bless you…

    I refuse to go to Patheos because it gives equal space to whatever nonsense anyone wants to write. It’s a false sense of ecumenism and diminishes the Catholic bloggers who belong to the one true faith.

    I am saddened whenever a good Catholic blogger crosses the river Styx (okay – maybe that’s a bit harsh – heh)

    @Stephen – ouch. I’m no fan of Mark. I was banned because I respectively brought up the possibility of Marxism having infiltrated some areas of the Church. The fact of this matter is well documented by various solid sources, including video of Alinsky training some priests. And our local Catholic college, Gonzaga, harbors a plethora of admitted socialist Jesuits. I was publicly called out as a “tin-foil hat wearing crazy” and could no longer comment. It was my first and last comment. In my mind that makes Shea a head-in-the-sand truth denier, and hence – the enemy. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

  6. Way to stand up for what’s right, Larry. I wasn’t aware of what is going on over at Patheos. I’m going to unfollow some bloggers on there. Keep preaching the Truth. Personally, I would never be a part of any site that advertises anything that cuts against Holy Mother Church.

  7. i was not aware of all the other stuff on patheos – i know i just liked the writing of ms. scalia, ms. fernandez, and fr. longenecker, and have only visited those 3 blogs on patheos. that said, if clicking on THEM, means giving money (or time or some kind of tacit approval / support to others i would not otherwise support), perhaps i should re-think visiting them (?). that’s too bad. ‘cuz crescat cracks me up.

    • doughboy, let me clarify something. It’s my understanding that page views/clicks on the blogs you read only means money for those specific blogs. In other words, reading a Catholic blogger on Patheos does not put money in the pocket of an Islam blogger. It’s my understanding the money isn’t pooled and then disbursed evenly. It’s paid out only to that individual blogger. I hope that makes sense.

  8. The Patheos descriptions of Catholicism could be improved. Placing our faith as just another among many is something I also have an issue with.

    The biggest issue for me is their RSS feeds. I don’t have the time to visit the websites of all the blogs I follow. Using a feed reader is crucial for me. Most of the Patheos feeds only provide a few lines and not the entire piece. They clearly want to force you to go to the website so their ads get more impressions. No can do.

    The practical result of this is I no longer subscribe to people who move there so I see none of their work. I see an announcement of a move to Patheos as equivalent to announcing the end of a blog. That is a shame. I wonder if they consider why they got into blogging in the first place. I doubt it was to make money.

    Fortunately there is a ton (the vast majority) of really great Catholic blogs NOT on Patheos. They provide the full text of their work in RSS feeds and are ad free. I will stick with those.

  9. I recognize the Religion library as the usual sloppy practice of trying to douse inconvenient truths with a freezing antiseptic bucket of professional neutrality.

  10. Tour de force, Larry ;) I have always found it more than passing strange that so many of its contriubutors laud, in fairly sycophantic tones, homosexual activist, Fr. James Martin SJ. If one was truly enamored of Catholicism, why then should this be so? I will leave it to your readers to answer this question.

  11. Larry,
    I’m sure you know that I’m not a fan of Mark Shea, I’ve never been impressed with Fr. Longenecker. I really tried to like the Crescat; she seems like an OK person, but I just don’t understand why she has a following.

      • So you believe and follow the lying pedifiles also know as catholics? Too much cover up for me to believe they are a true faith. Saten worshippers im sure

        • Holy mackeral!!! How could I have been so blind?!? Thank you for helping me see the light that the Catholic Church is comprised of sinners and fallen people! All this time, I thought the bishops and priests were perfect and sinless! How wrong I’ve been! This totally disproves 2000 years of teachings on faith and morals, and makes the Catholic Church a peddler of lies, falsehoods and objective error. Thank you thank you thank you for pointing out in only 29 words that I’ve been wrong all these years in following the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ, with 1.2 billion followers. I don’t want to be associated with such sinners anymore – maybe I can join your church?

  12. I do not like centralization.
    The Search tools are awful on Patheos.
    I share your scepticism.
    If they pay you, it comes with a price that may be hidden.
    I like your blog, keep up the good work.

  13. Amen, Larry. Your continued bravery in the face of persecution is inspirational. I’m glad there are still real men like you who “get it”. OK, everyone, let’s log off the internet forever!

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  15. I like some of the Catholic bloggers on that site, but was never aware of the information you shared today. It’s funny – I have always had a weird feeling about that site. I could never put my finger on it until today. Thanks for the info again! I am proud to be an “independent” blogger on WordPress.

    • I couldn’t put my finger on it either. I think it was the name. It sounded too much like “pathos” to me, which is not something I want to feel or want anyone else to feel when visiting a Catholic blog!

  16. I definitely don’t agree. I think it’s wonderful to have such high-quality, faithful Catholic bloggers on a site that has such a huge following, as you say. THEY (these bloggers) represent the Catholic faith very well, even if the site hosts don’t (which is understandable, considering they aren’t Catholic and considering the world we live in). Marc Barnes is definitely not “PC” as you say the site is. As for the money issue… I think it’s normal to have better quality writing when you pay your writers (as a general rule). It’s also understandable that they would want to write for Patheos and I think it’s a great place for them to be… to get more people to read their writing. As for the equal space for all religions and their “nonsense” and being side by side with them… doesn’t that reflect the world pretty accurately? And isn’t that the space for evangelization to take place? Why insist on creating Catholic ghettos… because our “name” will be soiled?

    This reminds me of an article I read yesterday on IgnitumToday (http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2012/04/17/dont-step-on-the-crack-youll-break-your-mothers-back/):
    “We have spent so much time carving out our own little world of Christian-specific music, films, entertainment, and books that we have deemed the outside versions leprous. Keeping our distance with some media is, of course, essential.However, lest we forget, this “secular” world evolved this way by entertaining, enlightening, compelling, and talking their way into a takeover of the media. How can we expect to influence it if we hold the not-with-a-ten-foot-pole standard of interacting with ‘Hollywood?’”

    • I never said there shouldn’t be a Catholic presence at Patheos. I said it behooves the Catholic team that the Catholic information at the site is accurate.

        • The only one making comparison, Kat, is you, and you’re better than that to play the “who’s more Catholic game.” I’m just making observations and giving reasons why I don’t care for Patheos and why I wouldn’t write for them, as well as making the case that if you’re getting paid to write at Patheos, you should make sure the Catholic Library information is correct and factual.

          • The game you started? For someone simply “making the case that if you’re getting paid to write at Patheos, you should make sure the Catholic Library information is correct and factual.” [which is a valid point and one I hope see corrected - thank you for pointing it out] … You could have simply just said this is the problem instead of the 1,800 word screed publicly condemning
            some really damn fine Catholic writers as sell outs.

            You can try and genteel up your tone in the comments but the post’s very valid point the library content was lost in the rest of the vitriol.

            It’s like blaming writers you have no control over advertising and editorial content on newspapers.

      • Soooo, a little inaccurate information on a site under construction, due not to malice but merely to well-intentioned human weakness and error–is enough to make you “choose not to patronize them or link them”? Really? Are you this completely merciless to all your brother and sister Catholics? Or is there some other issue here beside the failure of Patheos to be utterly perfect? I’m afraid I don’t believe you are making an innocuous plea for improved accuracy here. You are making a plea for a pogrom and urging, not correction, but Combox Star Chamber Excommunication of the Impure. And a goodly percentage of your readers here are getting the message. Man up and take responsibility for it.

        • Show me where I’m attributing the errors and inaccuracies to malice, and I’ll apologize. And I have the right to link to whom I want, for whatever reasons I want. There are a lot of bloggers I don’t link to. “Patronize all Catholic bloggers” is not a corporal work of mercy, and I resent the accusation that I’m being merciless because I choose not to read any of the bloggers there. And, if you notice, I’ve left Kat’s link up in the combox directly below this one. About 40 people have clicked that link.

          Show me where I’ve made a plea to urge a “Combox Star Chamber Excommunication”, and I’ll apologize. Otherwise, I just have to ask myself who’s punching whose nose here.

          Man up and take responsibility for it.

          I take responsibility for writing the post, and meant every word it contains. I’m sorry you don’t believe my intentions, and it seems that regardless of anything I might say or do, there’s no changing your mind.

  17. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat/2012/04/a-note-about-the-advertising.html

    Oh, wait. You probably won’t follow the link. But the gist, it explains how scary mormons do not get paid by reading me. I do. ***Which is used to pay for my son’s parochial Catholic education.***

    But by all means, go ahead and make assumptions about my fidelity to the Catholic church because I have successfully turned 2 things I am most passionate about, The Church and writing, into a venue that is seen by more people… not the typical vacuum in which I used to blog.

    I am so confident in Catholicism being the one true faith that I know no one is going to leave the Church bc they followed a mormon ad from my site. I am so confident in the Church that I know people visiting from other portals of different faiths will read the quality Catholic writers and get a sincere and honest look into Catholicism. That’s still a good thing right? Just checking.

    I appreciate your post, Larry. I sent Scalia an email about the squishy facts you noted and hopefully it will be addressed.

    You can be sure “squishiness” does not exist on my blog in the form of content written by me.

    • Who said anything about ‘scary’ Mormons?

      Glad to see you’re not taking this personally, Kat. I, too, share your hope that Ms. Scalia will see to it that the squishies and inaccuracies are addressed.

      But what if they aren’t?

      • It’s a rapidly growing site and Lizzie is fantastically busy trying to juggle it all. Given what you know of her work in the past, do you seriously think the inaccuracies are due to a sudden disinterest in speaking truthfully, or that it’s more easily explained by “She’s run six ways from Sunday and hasn’t had time to attend to this matter yet?” In short, why borrow trouble with ominous “But what if they aren’t?” questions when the likelihood is pretty good that the under construction site will fix such matters.

        By the way, I (and I’m betting other Catholic bloggers) have bleated about the Mormon ads to the webelves. I’ve also bleated about the “Roman Orgy” game ads that Google was feeding for a while and the Webelves promptly dispatched them. The Mormon ads won’t be going anywhere, it appears, since websites apparently require something called “money” to survive and (wouldn’t you know it?) Catholics aren’t ponying up (too busy with the vital apostolic work of backbiting like Mr. Dalton and complaining about imperfect efforts to evangelize, I guess) and Mormons are. I have loaded a piece which will launch in a week or two explaining my disagreements with Mormonism, but I’m not going to tell Patheos they can’t take their money. And frankly, if Mormons want to help Catholics evangelize, I won’t complain.

        • Given what you know of her work in the past, do you seriously think the inaccuracies are due to a sudden disinterest in speaking truthfully, or that it’s more easily explained by “She’s run six ways from Sunday and hasn’t had time to attend to this matter yet?”

          Actually, Mark, I think the inaccuracies are a sign of “rush to launch” and should never have been published in the form they’re in now. Were you aware of them prior to joining Patheos?

          I can understand with someone being fantastically busy, but the column on abortion, for instance, was written in 2009. It’s now 2012.

          My concern about the resource materials stem from a desire for non-Catholics to get accurate information when they’re seeking to learn more about our faith. That should be a serious concern of anyone contributing to Patheos – whether they’re paid bloggers or unpaid columnists – and I hope it gets addressed. Patheos is only going to get bigger, which makes it even more important to have it right. As to other people’s comments here and their reasons- they’re adults, they have their opinions, and they’re entitled to them.

          As to the ads – I explained all that in my post. It truly is a minor point with me, as it only took up one paragraph, and has, in all honesty, been taken out of context with regards to the bulk of my post. I don’t like them. That’s my opinion, whether they’re for Ignatius Press, EWTN, or the Vatican Gift Shop. I don’t like ads, and that’s why I don’t run them here. It’s part of the membership deal at Patheos, and that’s ok. I get it.

  18. The first time I visited this site, it smelled like 3 day old garbage. Most blogs that were in the past some of my favs have gone off my radar once they went to Patheos. Not enough hours in a day to sort out the truth from the fiction.

  19. Okay, so you mean if I click on Crescat then Shea gets paid too? Kat is a single mother and I like her. She’s honest about needing the money but I don’t want to support Shea or Fr. Longnecker.

  20. I’m fine with patheos being a multi-religion portal- I just have a problem with patheos ads (not the google stuff which is the ‘fault’ of the individual reader)— The Mormons are targeting Catholic material. They aren’t ‘scary’- but they aren’t Christian. On youtube, many of the Catholic videos have a sponsored ad for mormon.org. I’m surprised that The Crescat is so unconcerned about this- really- would you link to these sites and ads if you were an independent blog?

    My challenge to the Catholic bloggers at patheos- get together and tell the editors there that there will be no non-Christian ads on your site- I bet you drive enough traffic to the patehos portal that they will work with you.

  21. Larry,
    I do not think I have commented on your site thus far so let me begin by saying how much I enjoy both your perspective and your writing. I will confess my envy for your talent later :)

    As to the post, I stand wholeheartedly with your sentiments. And, if I may speak for you (In response to Julie – and correct me if I am wrong) I do not think your intent, or the article itself suggests that we should withdraw from the world – rather that we should be “in but not of.”

    Actually I am quite pleased to see so few attacks thus far; I would have expected more. And regarding the “thin skinned” among us, well, I will not judge as I too can be the same way sometimes. So to such replies I will just respond… God have mercy.

    Again, thanks for all you do – God Bless

    j

  22. Larry, I largely agree with you, especially after the recent Patheos redesign. Before the redesign, I could read a Catholic blog on Patheos (e.g., Bad Catholic or Standing on My Head), and it looked about the same as if that blog were hosted by Blogger or WordPress. There was just a little Patheos bar at the top, but otherwise, I felt like I was on the “Standing on My Head” site, not the Patheos site. Now after the redesign, I feel like I am visiting Patheos, which just happens to be displaying an article by Fr. Longenecker, which is partially buried amidst a bunch of Patheos clutter.

    (And by the way, this is with Adblock Plus turned on, so that I am not seeing any of the ads. If I turn Adblock Plus off, it is even worse.)

    However, given that Patheos is a popular site, I am very glad that there are several solid, entertaining, orthodox Catholic bloggers there. That is a MUCH better situation than if all of the Patheos Catholic blogs were written by dissenters. And I don’t begrudge anyone taking money for blogging.

    But like you, I do have concerns about the Patheos platform, and frankly I miss the old independent blogs of some of these bloggers.

  23. Thanks, my brother. You’ve done a good thing. Not that it matters, but when a writer goes to Patheos, it’s an ender for me. And I know I am far from the only one, and you are far from the first Catholic blogger to express concerns about the whole Patheos setup. I’ll go a bit further and state that it compromises quality and content – I know Scalia self-edits, she’s admitted to it. She used to write about wider ranging material and give freer opinions – and, to my mind, much better, more ‘Catholic’ opinions, when she was ‘independent.’

    As for the rest, I was never a big fan, anyway. They’re free to do as they please, of course, as are you, and I – including noting the compromises made to be on the ‘big blog’ and get access to that wider audience, and determining not to read those who have made that choice.

  24. That is a lot of reasons… it would be good if the bloggers I use to read would try to correct some of the PC BS, for whatever good it will do them. There’s always the argument that if it’s not someone fairly faithful to the Church, it will be the Wymyn Priest folks.

    I was a bit startled to realize how many Catholic bloggers I use to read who are now on Patheos; I didn’t watch closely enough to notice if I started drifting away after they switched, other than Pope Shea.

  25. Seriously, I was expecting the challenge at the end to be a bit more encompassing. Like how we need to get together a Catholic network akin to Patheos. We could even get an ad revenue system and be a bit more choosy regarding our ads (and no, this doesn’t mean we only support “Catholic” ads, but we can stop the support of those ads inimical to the faith).

    If anything, it would be a better act of subsidiarity – Patheos should a be a kind of hub that directs people to networks run predominantly by those of that religion. If any of the Catholic bloggers knew Patheos’ general layout more, I’m darn sure the problems Larry pointed out wouldn’t be happening. The Catholic network on Patheos should be run by Catholics (not CINOs).

    I’m definitely sympathetic to your views Larry. And while I’m sympathetic to any “reasons” or “purposes” any blogger has for blogging, if anyone decides to pull that out to bash another I’ve lost all sympathy. Self-righteousness isn’t a virtue, gift, or fruit.

    • Building a Catholic network is just preaching to the choir– which given that many Catholics need to be re-evangelized isn’t necessarily a wasted effort. But there is a great need for there to be a solid Catholic presence at Patheos and Beliefnet and any new hub that pops up because that’s where the people are going who most need to hear the truth. I see a Catholic presence on Patheos as an answer to Pope Benedict’s call to evangelize the “digital continent”. The great missionaries of the past didn’t expect the natives to come to them, they instead went to where the souls were who needed to hear the Gospel. St Paul preached in the Agora, St Francis Xavier in the slums of India. If there were no Catholic bloggers at Patheos, I would wonder why all of us are shirking our clear duty to spread the Gospel. If the conditions are less than ideal, so what? All the more reason for the Catholic bloggers to hold their collective noses while they work to create better conditions. I don’t think the main reason to write at Patheos is for a paycheck– though that’s a nice perk if you can get it– but to be where the traffic is going.

  26. My personal experience is that Patheos is just a shell – no different from blogger or wordpress, in terms of what I actually see and experience. I subscribe to my favorite Catholic bloggers using Google Reader. I click through to comment, but that just leaves me in the combox.

    [I'm not arguing with what you say, Larry. But just observing that as a practical matter, I never experience anything of that.]

    I will say is that when Elizabeth Scalia started feeding whole posts instead of snippets, I started reading her. When Fr. L moved to patheos and started feeding snippets instead of whole posts, I quit reading him. I love him, but I don’t have time to click through every post to see if I love it.

    Interestingly, Larry D., you’re one of the few snippet-feeders I’ll click on. Go figure. I can’t explain it.

    Oh and Lisa Mladnich knows how to write an opening three lines that make me click to read. So that makes two of you.

    • Interestingly, Larry D., you’re one of the few snippet-feeders I’ll click on. Go figure. I can’t explain it.

      A rare talent. What can I say? ;-)

      Thanks for the kind words – I’m truly grateful.

      • Why d o you only feed snippets? (A link to the post where you explain why?) Thanks!

        (Your post was very clear and dispassionate, I thought, not at all provocative or redolent of the fires of the Inquisition, as a couple of the Patheos writers seemed to think it.)

  27. Not to mention if Faith bloggers are all in one concentrated spot they are easier to just shut down (paranoid I know), and I can’t stand their interface and wouldn’t want my younger kids roving the site yet, plus Fr. L’s visuals were so much nicer when he did his own thing.

  28. Kat –

    For someone simply “making the case that if you’re getting paid to write at Patheos, you should make sure the Catholic Library information is correct and factual.” [which is a valid point and one I hope see corrected - thank you for pointing it out] … You could have simply just said this is the problem instead of the 1,800 word screed publicly condemning
    some really damn fine Catholic writers as sell outs.

    I thought it was just 2 paragraphs. Now it’s the entire post? Which is it?

    I didn’t condemn anyone. In fact, I commended the Catholic bloggers: I don’t know any of them personally, and for the most part, regarding the blogs I regularly read before they migrated to Patheos, their sites are top-notch. I believe they are true and faithful followers of Christ and His Church, and blog out of love for Christ and His Church, and aren’t doing this merely for the money.

    I referenced the ads (one paragraph, and I didn’t imply or infer that Mormons are scary) and the big Patheos banner at the blog’s bottom that links to all the other portals, to show that as a Patheos writer, you do not have the choice as to whether or not you can have those on your personal blog. In essence, it’s part of the “contract” of having the privilege of writing there and getting paid. That’s a fact. I don’t care about ad content at all – I merely mentioned it was “strange” to see Mormom.org ads – not that I was horrified, terrified, scandalized or anything else.

    I said “I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘sell-out’…”. Strong words, I admit, but it’s not a clear condemnation. Comes up to the edge – because to a degree, the Catholic writers had to agree to have elements added to their personal blog they would not include if they remained independent. That’s just a statement of fact. A compromise was made, and apparently, everyone is okay with that, and that’s fine.

    But those are my reasons why I wouldn’t write for Patheos. I would never agree to compromise on what appears on my blog. That’s the standard I’ve set for myself – as well as blogging for a hobby – doesn’t make me “better”, or “more Catholic” – neither said nor implied that. Other people have different standards. It’s what make the world goes round.

    You can try and genteel up your tone in the comments but the post’s very valid point the library content was lost in the rest of the vitriol.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see any severe criticism. Pointed observations, perhaps, but vitriol? I don’t see it. If there’s any there, I’m missing it. 90% of the post content deals with the library information.

    I still haven’s seen any answer to my question, though, that if the corrections to the information aren’t made, and the “squishiness” at the Library page isn’t tended to, what next?

  29. Maybe they could just change the name to Pantheon.

    At least that would deal with the truth in advertising issue.

    On the other hand it serves a certain winnowing function, to see who goes where…..

  30. Sorry, Crescat, I just don’t see any “vitriol” in Larry’s post. What, specfically, is “highly caustic?” From your comments, it seems you have taken this post very personally (which is understandable since you write for and are paid by Patheos). Perhaps your emotion is affecting your ability to remain objective.

    I think his post did a service by pointing out the weaknesses of the site. I read several of the bloggers there, and I’d like to continue to do so, but if the information provided about the faith remains as Larry has pointed out, I may no longer visit there. It has nothing to do with living in a “ghetto” or worrying about having our name “soiled.” It simply means that information should be accurate and demanding accurateness doesn’t mean that we can’t engage in truly ecumenical dialogue. The Church maintains that Christ is the truth, the way and life and the normative (note I said normative) way of pursuing Him is through His Church. It is not good enough to say Jesus of Nazareth was “an itinerant preacher.” Sorry, but I don’t follow an “itinerant preacher” and the Saints and Martyrs didn’t live and die for an “itinerant preacher.”

    I’m all for dialogue and I’m all for acknowledging our commonalities, but we have to be honest about what we believe and Who we believe in.

  31. I think it is instructive to compare and contrast the popular Catholic bloggers who started blogging at the National Catholic Register a couple of years ago (and who I think get at least some small payment for their Register blogging), with those whose blogs have moved to Patheos. (At least one blogger, Mark Shea, falls into both categories.)

    When these bloggers (e.g., Jimmy Akin, Jennifer Fulwiler, Pat and Matt Archbold, Simcha Fischer, etc.) began blogging at the National Catholic Register, they did not shut down their personal blogs. Instead, they blogged at both places, and in most cases they provided (and continue to provide) links to all of their Register posts on their personal blogs. It seems that they do save their best content for the Register blogs, but that’s fine with me for two reasons:

    (1) For most of them, I can still find all their posts on their personal blogs. I just have to click over to NCRegister to read the full post in some cases.

    (2) By simply browsing the Register site, I essentially get a one-stop shop for some of the very best content in Catholic blogging, since these bloggers do tend to save some of their best material for the Register site.

    Another point to make is that if I didn’t like the Register site for some reason (though in fact I do like it), I still could read quite a bit of content from my favorite bloggers on their own personal blogs, without ever visiting the Register site.

    Also, since these bloggers link to their Register posts from their own blogs, and since the Register links back to each blogger’s own personal blog, this seems to be a win/win in terms of generating traffic for both the Register blogs and their own blogs.

    Contrast that with Patheos, where Catholic bloggers who have joined Patheos have completely shut down their former blogs, and moved the entire operation over to Patheos’s site. That means that if I don’t like the Patheos site (because of the ads, or because of the links to non-Catholic religious information, or because of the cluttered layout, or because of the inaccurate information on the Catholic faith), then I don’t have a good option for reading that particular blogger (other than something like Google Reader, but I’m just not into reading blogs that way, and I’m not sure if you get the full post that way anyway). So I am stuck and I can choose either to put up with the problems at the Patheos site, or stop reading some of my favorite Catholic bloggers, neither of which is a great option.

    However, in fairness, even if the Patheos situation had been handled in a similar way to the NCRegister situation, some of the criticisms in this post would still be valid.

  32. Larry,
    Part of the deal with Patheos winds up being that, while you link to people in other faiths and denominations, they also link to you. Were I blogging at Patheos, I wouldn’t fret about the pagans, heretics, and apostates because I believe that the facts support Holy Mother Church against all comers. We’re called to go out into the world to proclaim the Truth, not wait in an encapsulated Catholic ghetto for them to come to us.

    I also think it’s a bad idea to NOT have any authentic Catholic voices there, because, let’s face it — some people come there because they don’t know any better. Why not have faithful voices to give them the truth, instead of (say) Sr. Joan C?

    I’m not going to suggest you take up blogging there. Like you, I deliberately make no money at blogging, and what’s more, I refuse to even track my traffic. I don’t want to get proud.

    • Give thanks for that–it’s what evangelization looks like, speaking to those who don’t fully understand the Church. Please speak charitably to them!

  33. Fear not my friends, Patheos apparently doesn’t load very quickly. As a matter of fact, it’s still attempting to load as I write this comment.

    It’s great that they summed up a 2,000 year faith, a guiding light of humanity, and one of the (if not the) purest religions on earth into a little box that’s less than a paragraph of information. Thanks a bunch Patheos.

  34. Pingback: Patheos and Catholicism « Mundabor's Blog

  35. Larry, I too have had concerns, but as I continue to ponder it, I want to offer some thoughts. First, I have not looked at the information on Catholicism there. I would encourage you to get directly with Elizabeth Scalia who manages the Catholic portal there and see if she can have that information updated. I don’t know how much is in her control, but in all charity, it would be good if you contacted her.

    With regards to the community itself, that they have all the other faiths, along with the non-faith of atheism, I would like to toss this out for discussion. We know that the N.Y. Times spends a good deal of time attacking the Church, but should Catholics not try to make the Catholic voice heard there? Another thing I have pondered is that the web is now a virtual water cooler, a virtual mall, a virtual park, etc. If Catholic bloggers present the Catholic faith in an interfaith forum, and one that includes the non-faith of atheism, then the Catholic voice is heard within that particular, very public square. We don’t know who may find the faith through the posts made there.

    Now, I also have a concern about the opposite thing happening – a Catholic who is uninformed, straying from the faith or even from Christianity when they stumble upon things at other portals in Patheos. This is a valid concern. I made the decision to link to individual posts there, and will continue for the time being, unless my conscious shifts to believe there is too much risk of losing Catholics by linking to those individual posts.

    I consider myself orthodox (imperfectly so, but always learning). I’m also a traditionalist in my taste for liturgy. I prefer the 1962 Missal, but have no problems assisting at a reverently celebrated new Mass. I know many Catholics, including those on the web, who do not share my love for the 1962 liturgy, but they are nonetheless orthodox (and also imperfect in understanding, but learning). I have found some very thought provoking, non-liturgical posts in the blogs of those who do not share my love for the 1962 Missal, but are otherwise quite faithful to the teachings (unlike, say, most writers at the National catholic Reporter). You will find them promoting contraception, backing the bishops on religious liberty, etc. I don’t think it’s an either/or, but a both/and. It’s for this reason that I will peak in to see what some Catholic authors at Patheos are saying and link to those articles. A perfect example is in my latest post on the PBS interview on the LCWR crackdown.

    I dunno. Should Catholics only participate in pure forums where only other Catholics of a like mind participate? How do we get the Catholic voice heard where others will have an opportunity to consider that leap?

    • I don’t think it is a question of being in a “pure” forum per se, but at least being allowed to present your position fairly – e.g., accurate descriptions. I can understand the frustration of using secondary sources. It’s not like the catechism is some super-double-secret knowledge unavailable on the web.

  36. I also get a feeling of mild disappointment whenever I click a link and find myself on patheos. Many of us enjoy reading a variety of Catholic sites online because it is a way of stepping away from the “city of man”. But patheos is and feels like a modern pluralistic, commercial enterprise. I agree that some orthodox persons should be writing on the site, but this should be viewed as a somewhat reluctant duty rather than something to be celebrated. Patheos is rarely mentioned or linked to in MSM organs, and so it is not some unavoidable giant media/tech enterprise like ebay, google and facebook. So it is still fledgling in a sense, and so moving one’s blog there is helping to solidify a commercial enterprise whose success was/is by no means guaranteed. Finally, it seems clear that it was pleasing to the Lord that EWTN, Ignatius Press, etc. succeed. Is the Lord pleased by the success of a commercial entity that is dedicated to the marketplace of religions? Really?

  37. My two cents. I’ve been involved with Patheos since the beginning. I don’t get paid for my column. I write there because it’s the Areopagus, and I love Christ and his Church, and becasue it’s a digital Barnes and Noble. You don’t avoid the forum becasue there are people there who disagree with you. You go there because there are people to witness to.

    • Let’s not overstate the evangelical prowess of blogging. When Paul spoke at the areopagus he was witnessing face-to-face, and he was preaching the fundamentals of Christianity. To the latter point, most blog posts are “inside baseball” Catholicism, and most pew-sitting Catholics (including every member of my extended family) cannot relate to the subject matter or the “voice”. To the first point, for the unevangelized, the grace-filled encounters that may convert them over time include a real living witness right before their eyes. Now a conversion story/human interest story may stick with someone, but most blog posts are not of that variety. Moreover, blogs attract a certain kind of person–a person who is interested in the world of ideas and has many opinions themselves. Since humans have “sticky” beliefs–meaning they hold to what they think in the face of huge reams of contrary evidence and analysis–the blogger is primarily confirming or enlightening around the edges of a persons already extant web of beliefs.

      • It’s hard to judge success; it’s easier to judge fidelity. But Robert Barron did a lot of things on YouTube before he did Catholicism.

  38. Hey, guys– I’m one of the newest writers on Patheos, and here’s why I moved: Because I wanted lots and lots of readers. Voila– It’s worked!

    Those who write at the Catholic Portal need your support (and your clearly stated comments in the comboxes), in order to be an effective witness to the world. Please don’t go away! And don’t be afraid, either, of those who hold a different faith. Patheos is like the world, we are all missionaries, and we must be prepared to give an account for the joy that is within us.

    • Kathy, I’m sure you will be a fantastic addition, but in good conscience I cannot support all the Catholic bloggers at Patheos- some of them simply write things I cannot support at all. The vitriol demonstrated on some of the blogs, if I’m quite honest, makes me extremely uncomfortable and feel as though I am reading something from a site definitely not connected to Catholicism. The vitriol has upset me so much that I have complained to Ms. Scalia about a post in particular, and while it was correct, the naked hatred on that blog for anyone who disagrees persists. It does not reflect the Catholic faith, as far as I can tell, and I just cannot support it.

  39. This post is exactly what I’ve been thinking. Patheos is hardly the Aeropagus. It’s a gathering of self-referential bloggers, whose posts have begun sounding exactly the same. And the Catholicism has become extremely diluted in the process.

    • Really? Mark Shea sounds nothing like Elizabeth Scalia, who sounds nothing like Marc Barnes, who sounds nothing like Julie Davs, and the columns are some of the most in-line, conservative Catholic thinking I’ve run across. I don’t think any of the blogs are self-referential. And I really like the new God and the Machine blog, which is not like any other. How long has it been since you’ve been over there?

      • FWIW, I *wish* I could write like Marc Barnes, but that wish, alas, will not be granted. His stuff is fantastic.

  40. Well, every one of us who blogs at Patheos has a story. Here’s mine.

    I started my own independent blog five years ago. In 2009, I was invited to join Beliefnet, to fill the large shoes left by the David Gibson and Amy Welborn. Then after a year, Beliefnet changed hands, and my editor ended up leaving in a management shakeup. Around this time my good friend Elizabeth Scalia started knocking on my door. “Come to Patheos,” she said, “it’s great here!” And so I went. I haven’t regretted it for a minute.

    For me, it was very much a leap of faith. At the time, the site was relatively new and comparatively small, and it seemed like a wide open frontier still being explored. But I trusted Elizabeth’s judgment and taste; the fact that in just 18 months she has attracted such a remarkable stable of contributors (and that the readership is growing by leaps and bounds) is a testament to that.

    As for content: I’m not aware of any of us being pressured to adjust what we do or change how we do it. (Unlike Beliefnet, for example, where the pressure to generate traffic was intense and often unpleasant…with market researchers harassing bloggers with e-mails and cracking the whip to make sure we were responsive to popular key words or trends. It was insane.) And ads are a necessary evil for this sort of enterprise, though the managers at Patheos do strive to keep content compatible with our values. It’s an imperfect system, and needs work, but it is still better than what I had to deal with a Beliefnet, where pop-ups ruled the day and the content was wildly unpredictable. On several occasions I had to complain to management about ads for same-sex resorts that were popping up on my sidebar. (Which brings me to another point: the management team at Patheos has been superlative — responsive, professional, attentive and sympathetic.)

    I’m pleased and proud to be part of an operation that includes writers like Elizabeth Scalia, Max Lindenman, Dwight Longenecker, Kathy Schiffer and Kathryn Lopez — and I look forward to others soon joining the Patheos family. Each is offering a unique viewpoint and witness, and each continues to add to my own gratitude and boundless awe that I’m a member of such a remarkable, thriving, vibrant, beautiful faith.

    Here comes everybody, indeed.

  41. Actually, Mark, I think the inaccuracies are a sign of “rush to launch” and should never have been published in the form they’re in now. Were you aware of them prior to joining Patheos?

    I wasn’t aware of them till this post. I’ve basically read Lizzie, the Deacon’s Bench, and a couple of other blogs by way of familiarity with the Patheos site. I liked their work, and when Lizzie asked if I would like to move the blog there (thus a) appealing to a wider audience and more diverse audience (think Paul at the Agora) and b) reducing or even eliminating the need for me have those cursed Tin Cup Rattles that I hated having to do) it seemed to me prudent to do so. What I did not count on, of course, was the Combox Star Chamber tendency (on full display here in this catty thread) to always find a way to accuse. So now, instead of being accused for having Tin Cup Rattles to support my family, I am accused of “extremely diluting the Faith” (not to mention being Pope for *not* diluting the Faith) for earning a (very small) paycheck. No good deed goes unpunished!

    My concern about the resource materials stem from a desire for non-Catholics to get accurate information when they’re seeking to learn more about our faith. That should be a serious concern of anyone contributing to Patheos – whether they’re paid bloggers or unpaid columnists – and I hope it gets addressed.

    I’m sure it will. Did you, perchance, drop somebody at Patheos a line about this before opening you comboxes to this little festival of backbiting? Any effort to reach out to the people at Patheos before convening this soiree?

    Patheos is only going to get bigger, which makes it even more important to have it right. As to other people’s comments here and their reasons- they’re adults, they have their opinions, and they’re entitled to them.

    I never said they weren’t. I merely point out that if the goal is to actually improve Patheos, convening an impromptu Star Chamber to indulge in backbiting is not productive.

    As to the ads – I explained all that in my post. It truly is a minor point with me, as it only took up one paragraph, and has, in all honesty, been taken out of context with regards to the bulk of my post. I don’t like them. That’s my opinion, whether they’re for Ignatius Press, EWTN, or the Vatican Gift Shop. I don’t like ads, and that’s why I don’t run them here. It’s part of the membership deal at Patheos, and that’s ok. I get it.

    I don’t like them either. We are agreed there. My point is simple and the same one I made to you earlier: ouch. I do my best to serve the Church. I even try to point people to your fine blog. I can usually count on a Catholic or three to reward my efforts with a punch in the mouth. I’m disappointed you are among them.

    • Mark,
      This thread basically consists of people saying, “Yeah, patheos has always left me a little cold/uneasy, too.” That’s hardly “star chamber” tactics. The Catholic web community is full of former readers of your blog. Why? Because you have a penchant for shrillness (as the paragraphs above demonstrate), and you pronounce ex cathedra on very difficult events/hard cases, and then write as though anyone who disagrees with you just doesn’t know Jesus/have the mind of the Church. Patience, humility and charity in all things–including writing. Pax Christi.

      • I also thought the Star Chamber remark was over the top. That just seems to be one of your hallmarks. It is a trial of my patience to read sometimes, although as of late I am more frequently rewarded. That said, I recommend to new readers that they start with Jennifer Fulwilers and Simcha Fishers to build a foundation, and thus learn how to read selectively. I’m just telling you this for your information. I read everything eventually, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere.

  42. Deacon Greg writes: “As for content: I’m not aware of any of us being pressured to adjust what we do or change how we do it.”

    Dittos. I have simply never gotten any communication–ever, from anybody at Patheos–on what I can and cannot write about. No directives. No subtle pressure. No quiet throat clearing. No hints, polite nudgings, nada. I write my blog on exactly the same terms as when it was hosted at blogger. And though some of the Patheos bloggers chat from time to time on FB or in email (typically to a) try to figure out what the hell is going on with the site re-configuration or b) if there happens to be a story several people are comparing notes on) I have never ever–ever–been told to modify what I write or been instructed on something I need to write or not write. Ever. So I am mystified at the magisterial declarations about “extremely diluted” Catholic content.

    • I can’t speak for others, but I find that my children resent starving to death in the freezing cold. As I writer, I need to be paid so that I can then exchange that filthy lucre for things like food, clothing, and shelter.

  43. So if blogging at patheos is all about evangelizing and reaching a wider audience who need to hear the faith, then why is Shea characteristically ranting about pogroms and star chambers? Who exactly would find our faith compelling or beautiful if that is the style?

    • Sorry for interrupting the backbiting session. I will bow out so you guys can resume the apostolic work of accusation and tearing others down.

      • Sigh. I rest my case. I for one thought that LarryD seemed to bend over backward to avoid making this personal.

  44. Moving beyond the heated rhetoric, the main question here is what to do about the new Tower of Babel that our spiritual enemies have led western man to create in the last five centuries. Patheos is an empirical exemplar and institution of the new Babel. I suppose the Catholic bloggers there would say they are baptizing patheos (a la the pantheon), spreading good seeds for those the Lord sends their way. Others would say they have moved the center of orthodox bloggers into the Tower and have unwittingly added to the general cultural trend/perception that all religions are ways to God.

    • “why is Shea characteristically ranting about pogroms and star chambers?”

      Followed by…

      “the main question here is what to do about the new Tower of Babel that our spiritual enemies have led western man to create in the last five centuries. Patheos is an empirical exemplar and institution of the new Babel.”

      …is a sample of hilarity I couldn’t pass up. Yeah. No combox Inquisitors here. Okay. Now I’m really gone. Have a nice backbite!

      • Either you didn’t read the next sentence or you are intellectually dishonest. In charity, I assume the former. The very next sentence makes the case for blogging at patheos–something I said should be reluctantly done (in my first post april 21–the earlier Scott W of april 18 is not me). Moreover, once you cool down, if you don’t believe demons have misled men into creating a new tower of Babel in the last five centuries, and that patheos’ offerings of paganism, atheism, etc. isn’t an empirical exemplar of that fact, then I question your call to this ministry.

        • Let me clarify and apologize for publicly questioning Mark’s ministry. Firstly, to respond to the conditional (‘if…then’ statement) that I put to Mark. I firmly believe that a calm Mark believes that a new tower of Babel (which is another way of saying the ascendancy of pluralism or even relativism in a West now split by endless creeds and false worldviews) has been “underconstruction” for the past 500 years. Moreover, I believe a calm Mark who looks at the homepage of patheos and sees ten main categories of faiths (atheist, buddhist, catholic, evangelical, hindu, jewish, mormon, muslim, pagan and progressive christian) will also agree that the site is an empirical exemplar of the fact of the age of pluralism/relativism and an institutional by-product thereof (that is, no age of pluralism, then no patheos). Pax Christi.

  45. I blog in order to communicate the Catholic faith to as many people as possible. Since I’ve gone to Patheos my reader numbers have almost tripled. Nobody edits or controls what I write. I’m not going to take much notice of the persnickety grumblers I’m afraid, although I think I might just have had some inspiration for some new content for my alter ego Duane Mandible…the conservative Catholic conspiracy guy. :-)

    • I am glad that you and the other patheos bloggers that have responded here have tripled their viewership and get paid, but there is still a question that hasn’t been addressed. Why do so many orthodox Catholics feel a twinge of unease and disappointment when they click on a newadvent or pulp.it link and end up on patheos. Are we paranoid or overly sensitive? Or does God want His people set apart in a certain way that precludes participating in a faith super-site (that can appear to many that Catholicism is not the true faith but just another item on the menu). I hope you blog on this, at yes, patheos.

      • “The Church always evangelizes and has never interrupted the path of evangelization. She celebrates the eucharistic mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of life—the Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and charity. And this evangelization bears fruit: It gives light and joy, it gives the path of life to many people; many others live, often unknowingly, of the light and the warmth that radiate from this permanent evangelization.

        However, we can see a progressive process of de-Christianization and a loss of the essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today’s humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelization of the Church: That is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?

        This is why we are searching for, along with permanent and uninterrupted and never to be interrupted evangelization, a new evangelization, capable of being heard by that world that does not find access to ‘classic’ evangelization. Everyone needs the Gospel; the Gospel is destined to
        all, and not only to a specific circle and this is why we are obliged to look for new ways of bringing the Gospel to all.”

        – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, on the New Evangelization

  46. lol. liked the post for what it was, but i’m not in agreement.

    first, if you actually read Kat or Mark who the heck would remain ignorant enough to click on the Mormon ads?

    Second…. if you blog for a hobby, by all means, pick your venue.

    But even before I read Mark’s comments, I was thinking, who has the means to blog for a hobby? Geez…let those who are blogging to support a family post the first blog-stone.

    Bloggers like Mark and Crescat are taking one of God’s talents and trying to multiply it in the spiritual AND corporeal world… and they get critiqued by people who likely haven’t regularly given even a tiny percent of their income to them to keep their work afloat? They are lay people, Larry. They CAN’T take a vow of poverty; they have people to support. I’d rather read their work and be edified and laugh and pay a small amount for the benefit than attend one more Protestant Pampered Chef party…. (please, someone laugh at this; you know what I mean).

    I’d like people to instead post how it is they manage to post as a hobby and how much they’ve given regularly to the support of those who edify the rest of us. I know that I need that edification, and I know I haven’t supported it except intermittently. And I’ve probably done more than most. So I’m willing to wade through the ads because Kat makes me laugh, learn, and Mark keeps me intelligent enough to stay away from the silly ads.

    I just can’t live in Eden after the Fall. I get your point, Larry, but I can’t agree it’s this hill to die on.

    Though I’d agree that we should agitate to change the description page you mention. (maybe we should take a page from the playbook of the gay activists; they seem very successful!).

    • Kim – I understand that Mark and Kat are lay people and have families to support. Perhaps you missed this part of my post: Not that there’s anything wrong with making money off blogging. I’m all for folks earning some cash off of what they love to do.

      I’m not sure where you’re going with this, though: I’d like people to instead post how it is they manage to post as a hobby and how much they’ve given regularly to the support of those who edify the rest of us. That really isn’t anyone’s business, is it?

    • No, they did not, but I’m sure they received food and shelter from those whom they visited, and that is a form of recompense. Comparing the 1st century to the 21st century isn’t that valid anyway. And again, the issue here – at least with me – has nothing to do with whether or not there’s payment involved for blogging. Kathy makes some good points in her comment below. You have an issue about folks being paid to evangelize, and that’s okay – but this is not the place to raise that issue. Thanks.

  47. I think all this grousing about whether bloggers are paid is shameful. By the same standard, should one demand that your priest not be paid because he should, like the apostles, spread the gospel for free? How about Catholic school teachers? Pastoral associates? Shouldn’t publishers make Catholic titles available for free? Wait: How about the girl who dispenses ice cream cones at your local Dairy Queen? Shouldn’t she want to make people happy for free?

    Maria, let me tell you something: The pay is scant. I work a fulltime job, but I spend a few hours each evening reading, researching and writing. My saintly husband does not complain because I haven’t cleaned the house or fixed a great dinner. But you feel you have the right to demand that I do this for nothing, simply because I am writing about the things of God?

  48. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and I’m really concerned about how things have changed since then. I remember an online community of Catholics, pretty much many of the same people over all this time, and some new comers. I don’t know if it is just me, but I sense serious division and a more sectarian kind of atmosphere now where the slightest of things seem to create even more divisions. It is getting so bad that it seems as if one group doesn’t think another is Catholic enough to associate with. These sects will eventually be subject to what happens when inbreeding takes place.

    What I see happening is that if another blogger doesn’t pass some kind of litmus test (and there are many variations of this litmus test on all sides) they are treated like, “the enemy”, and really lose an opportunity to talk about our differences for the sake of growth. Setting aside dissenting bloggers altogether, the rest of us have gotten to a point that if we don’t agree with another on something, or come from different viewpoints, we just break ties rather than make use of reason and discourse. What a loss! While I’m a traditionalist, I’ve learned a lot from other faithful Catholics who do not share my enthusiasm for the 1962 Missal. Some of them have acknowledged having learned to appreciate some things from the older form. It’s because I don’t jump all over them, and I don’t disassociate with them. I just find things spiraling in a very negative direction. There is a loss of general courtesy and decency, and an increase of

    I think it’s fine to point out that something a fellow blogger does gives us pause on an ethical or moral level. However, I think we bloggers need to get back to following the Gospel by talking to one another privately to voice those concerns and see if they can be resolved before just going off on them publicly. This is simply a matter of being mindful of the dignity of others.

    One more thing to note about some Catholic bloggers, be they at Patheos or outside: People are growing and learning. No one comes into the Church a saint. No one is born in the Church a saint. When someone is struggling with something, it may be reflected in their writing. This is not a time to abandon them, or to disassociate with them, or to deride them publicly, but dive into their combox and make use of reason to pick them up or give them something else to consider. This is Christian charity at work. Anyone can talk with Catholics who share like views, who share our strengths and weaknesses. It takes acting on grace to hang in there with those who don’t have the same strengths and weaknesses we do.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?

    • These sects will eventually be subject to what happens when inbreeding takes place.

      Recessive traits become more common.
      Generally the reason that a group holds back from interaction with those that have traits they dislike– in the world, not of it has two aspects.

      Say, a dislike for inaccurate information when the idea is to inform those who may not know anything about a faith, vs the idea that it’s more important to make contact and fix flaws later.

      Voluntary separation also keeps styles from rubbing up against each other– say, those who think that saying “I don’t care for X site, for P-Z reasons, it’s cool if you like it” is a polite explanation of something people may have noticed, and those who think such a post is justification for accusations of mob violence, attempted excommunication by kangaroo court, an attack on those who prefer differently, etc.

      Without division, you can never have hybridization– and hybrid vitality is legendary for good reason.

      Forced unity is reasonable if a population is small enough– not enough diversity to justify trying to set up different strains of thought. When a population grows large enough, however, you either allow different varieties to show up or you have to chop off everything that is outside of the variety you choose to foster, thus losing both the trimmings and the future vitality from healthy diversity.

    • Diane:

      If (mostly anonymous or partly anonymous) bloggers expressed their concerns in private to other bloggers and didn’t go off on those other bloggers publicly, they wouldn’t have a way to spike their stats.

      Pretty simple, really.

      And I agree with you on the other points. It’s changed, and not really for the better.

  49. This is nothing more than further evidence that you’re willing to throw good people under the bus to get attention. Traffic-bating at it’s finest. Nothing new, though (exhibit #1: ripping off Jennifer Fulwiler’s 7 Quick Takes). Produce something original and edifying or stop polluting the Catholic blogosphere. It’s getting really old.

    • Nothing new, though (exhibit #1: ripping off Jennifer Fulwiler’s 7 Quick Takes).

      *Snort!* It’s not ripping off, it’s called having a little fun – something Catholics are allowed to do. It’s called ‘parody’, and you might be surprised to know that Jen emailed me, saying that she thinks the 3.5′s are a hoot.

      If you don’t like AoftheA, why are you reading?

  50. Let me paraphrase St. Paul (if I could be so bold), just to let my point across:

    Do not say “I am of Blogger”, or “I am of Patheos”, or “I am of Facebook”. Is Christ divided?

    Pax Christi

  51. Quick, somebody said something bad about Patheos! Everyone go and defend!

    When every blogger at Patheos feels the need to defend it, something is wrong with Patheos.

  52. Well, thankfully, I learn I am not the only one who has a problem with Patheos. If it was in the real world, it would be the Catholic section of the local spirituality mall. Yes, I enjoyed some of these bloggers prior to them joining Patheos, but lately, I have been looking a bit askance at them. “Let me tell you about true Catholicism, but in case you were curious enjoy Buddhism when you are done.”

    • Larry:
      Here’s how I think about it, and why I agreed to join the Patheos bloggers: I believe that when you stand ideas side by side in the marketplace of ideas and examine them with an open mind, Catholicism wins. I imagine a seeker reading the Buddhism site and then “In case you were curious, enjoy true Catholicism when you’re done.”

      I’ve had a couple of interactions with the atheists, and have even been linked on their site. To my way of thinking, that is a substantial opportunity for Catholic evangelization.

      • Kathy – I don’t disagree with anything you said there.

        But, with the exception of Kat and Mark Shea, none of the other Patheos bloggers have addressed the issue of the incorrect and sloppy information on the Catholic resource page – things I cited in my post piece. It’s as if I didn’t even write them down. I didn’t ask for a self-defense – I’ve asked what’s going to be done about it. I didn’t accuse anyone of willful negligence or malice or anti-Catholicism – I just want to know what’s going to be done about it.

        If it were me, I’d be pretty darn adamant that the information provided about the Catholic faith and what the Church teaches would be, at the very least, consistent with what I blog about. It does no service to seekers to read stuff about the faith that is untrue. Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Well, yes, I agree. And I happen to know that since you brought it to our attention, it is being addressed. Please understand that the cite is full of bugs because of the transition, we’re driving the I.T. guys crazy, and soon all will be well. So could you all lighten up? I’ll wager you’d have a pretty tough time defending everything at your work site, if we all stopped in to criticize. This has been a very long conversation stream– what I’d like to see now is some Catholic LUV. You know, so that the world will recognize Christ in us?

  53. Well, yes, I agree. And I happen to know that since you brought it to our attention, it is being addressed. Please understand that the cite is full of bugs because of the transition, we’re driving the I.T. guys crazy, and soon all will be well.

    I’m glad to hear that – I didn’t realize that the transition was making things difficult.

    So could you all lighten up? I’ll wager you’d have a pretty tough time defending everything at your work site, if we all stopped in to criticize. This has been a very long conversation stream– what I’d like to see now is some Catholic LUV.

    Asking us to “understand that the cite is full of bugs”, then telling us to “lighten up”, and then requesting to see “Catholic LUV” – hey, I know you’re frustrated because of I brought this up, and so many people have chimed in covering a wide spectrum of thought and opinion, but for the most part, this has been a passionate discussion.

    As for the criticism – I think it’s good that Patheos is held to a higher standard, given its platform and interaction with other belief systems and exposure to non-believers. Don’t be afraid to be pushed towards excellence. We all want the Catholic faith presented in the truest way possible, beyond what’s expressed on the blogs. I’m glad everyone over there wants the information as accurate as possible, to be most effective in the New Evangelization. The fact it wasn’t right in the first place is water under the bridge. What’s important now is that, moving forward, things will get corrected. I hope the IT problems are resolved quickly.

  54. Larry, this has been perking for almost a week and I admit I did not carefully read all the comments. But, I really want to know, how did we, CATHOLICS evangelize the world without engaging pagans, non-believers, others? Sometimes I wonder. Now, I will go pray for some of my non-practicing, agnostic and apostate neighbors. Maybe for Mormons, too.

    • That’s a false question. I never said that we as Catholics are not to engage the world, nor specifically stated (or even inferred) that there shouldn’t be a Catholic presence at Patheos.

  55. Pointing out errors in the portal is helpful. It might have been more helpful if it had been approached in charity first via private email to the Patheos people rather than standing in the city square screaming it aloud. But … well, at least it has been mentioned and could be addressed now.

    As for the comments you make about bloggers who are there, I fall in with iconstitcher’s attitude, which is why I have a “spin-off” blog, if you will (Happy Catholic’s Bookshelf). For which I am not paid, for which I have never been approached for compensation. (That may be an administrative oversight, but the actual facts remain.)

    I must say that in light of my recent readings of 1st Corinthians, your post strikes me as being in line with Paul’s horrified comments to that community … about taking each other to secular court instead of settling differences within their own community. The result is that they tear each other apart in public which does nothing good for each other and certainly is not showing non-Christians that there is any love within the community. I wish you’d reconsider and approach the issue from a different basis.

    • Some things aren’t sinful, but they aren’t the most virtuous approach either. Julie, you sum up exactly my problem with how this is played out here. The post is made; it’s done. But in the future, why not contact a long standing and well known blogger to talk about concerns through email first rather than just complain publicly? I think it’s easier, and sometimes more satisfying, to just let it rip.

      Elizabeth Scalia manages the Catholic portal at Patheos. It took me all of one minute to find her contact info. If I think there’s something wrong at a neighbor’s house, it’s far more virtuous, and in line with Scripture, if I talk to him privately about it first, as opposed to shouting across the street where everyone can hear it. It just doesn’t sit well with me and I think we can do better than this. I say “we” because I’m guilty of the same kinds of things in the past and have had to reconcile with it. Our setting an example doesn’t start and end with avoiding mortal sin; it also includes practicing the virtues.

      • But in the future, why not contact a long standing and well known blogger to talk about concerns through email first rather than just complain publicly? I think it’s easier, and sometimes more satisfying, to just let it rip.

        You’re really obviously not the first commenter here this applies to…
        but did all of you “send an email when you have an issue with something” folks put your sense of irony in the wash before posting?

        • I see that I’ve been misunderstood, but it’s my own fault for not explaining myself better. Let me clarify…

          There are two things at issue:

          1) Using public ridicule as a first recourse with regards to problems with information/errors at someone’s site. Larry talked about how information was laid out at Patheos. My thought was, why not just contact Scalia and see if she will update it?

          2) public criticism of someone else’s public writings is fair game.

          There’s actually another area we can pull out of Larry’s response:

          3) Comments about style, and other technical matters, such as layout and function – sure – nothing wrong with discussing preferential matters. I myself find I have to make too many clicks to get to someone’s blog there. I don’t usually bother with bookmarks, but since so many blogs start with Patheos, I can’t get the browser bar to load the right Patheos blog much of the time.

          I hope this clarifies my position.

  56. I don’t think Larry’s blog is the equivalent of a “secular court.” It’s a blog, written by a Catholic and, most likely, read exclusively by Catholics. In essence, he did address the problem among fellow disciples. And reading the post again (for the third time), I don’t think he said anything that was out of line or vitriolic. I am not surprised, however, that Patheos writers feel strongly about this.

    Foxfier – :).

  57. Interesting article – thank you !! I was led here through Terry Nelson’s blog. What is missing over at Patheos IMO is artistic freedom. I was a daily follower of the “Bad Catholic,” for instance, and over on Patheos, he doesn’t look “bad” anymore; his huge funny banner is almost gone, diminished by a same-as-the-other-guy-template appearance. That being said, he IS receiving a boatload of comments, so what the heck. Possibly the changeover helps him pay for a few more books for school. And maybe he reaches more young souls too.. For me, though, I’ll stick with the independent blogger, because of the visuals (headers, saint pictures, unique layouts) which are a complement to their solid Catholic content. (Vultus Christi and Terry Nelson are two in this regard.) Or GREAT Catholic content with no strong attention paid to visuals (nor proofreading as far as that goes -lol-) is fine by me too. (See Fr. Ed Broom’s blog.)

    Thanks again for the article!

  58. Pingback: Five Reasons I Would Never Write for Patheos | St. Joseph's Vanguard

  59. I don’t click on any Patheos links anymore once I realized what the site actually is. There weren’t many sites that interested me anyway, sometimes The Anchoress.

    Mark Shea’s a big NO. Fr. Longnecker even is a big NO in my book. I can live and grow in my Faith without Patheos just fine, in fact, Catholics would all be better off to avoid Patheos completely.

  60. Pingback: The Problem With Patheos – The Follow Up | Acts Of The Apostasy

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