Universalizing your own experience

Universalizing your own experience

There is a tendency I’ve noticed in my comboxes and on other blogs of folks who tend to universalize their own experiences, a danger which we need to be wary of.

Often these universalizers will say things like, “Every priest I meet in my hometown treats his vocation like a 9 to 5 job, therefore most or all priests treat their vocations like a 9 to 5 job.” Or they say, “I can find a parish church that is open at convenient times for working people, therefore parish churches are not open at convenient times for working people.” Another example: “I’ve seen several cases in the news about priests or bishops who live lives of luxury, therefore priests and bishops live lives of luxury.”

This simply isn’t true. The only thing such experiences tell you is that you’ve experienced them. What’s especially disturbing is when a good and orthodox priest pipes up to say, “Hey, we’re not all like that,” he is vilified and shouted down and accused of being part of the problem.

Some people are so full of anger and outrage that they’ve become pickled in it. They’re trapped in a Church they know is the Body of Christ, but they also see that it’s full of and led by such awful sinners. What can one do?

I suppose it doesn’t help that blogs are so often full of stories of various outrages and problems. Speaking for my own blog, I only intend such stories to be vehicles for discussing the way things are, the way they can be improved, and how we ought to deal with them in our own lives. But I can see how these stories can be used to feed the anger and outrage. They are fuel for the fire.

Quite honestly, I think there a few people who should stop reading blogs and stop commenting because it’s doing them no good. If you find yourself full of anger after sitting at your computer for a while, maybe you should stop. Stop worrying about the Church; It’s the Lord’s responsibility anyway. Stop worrying about what someone else’s bishop is doing, what some wacky theologian is doing. Concentrate on your own family and your own parish. Living with such anger is not physically or spiritually healthy.

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