One thing I’m dreading with the coronavirus quarantine happening is podcasts. You know what a podcast is, right? It’s where a dude with barely any intelligence and a high opinion of himself allows the world to hear his barely intelligent opinions about things he first heard about that morning. This kind of pollution fills the internet as much as porn does, and it’s just as self-indulgent, and maybe more so, because it’s easier to make – you only need one person, among other things.
This unironically unintelligent and self-indulgent blog post isn’t really about podcasts though. It’s about opinions. I’m sure plenty of people have podcasts that deserve an audience because their thoughts are both well-informed and well-formed. But for some amount of time (it doesn’t really matter how long), people have been told a very dumb lie: that they deserve an opinion, or that their opinion is important.
Opinions are not important, and yours is no exception (nor is mine, which probably means you should stop reading now). Knowledge is important. And unless I have a reason to believe you know what you’re talking about, I have no reason to listen to you. I’m not talking simply about external credentials like those expensive letters after your name. I’m talking about a history of good reasoning, and about decency of character, and about seriousness in your thought and responsibility in your life. This is to say nothing about an actual relationship to or expertise with the issue you suddenly care so much about. I care about Seth MacFarlane’s opinions on science about as much as I care about Richard Dawkins’s opinions on philosophy.
Case in point: I’ve been hearing a lot of publicly-aired opinions about the suspension of public Masses, as well as the souls of the bishops who did the suspending. Sure, you get to have your opinion simply by the fact that nobody can stop you from having one. But that doesn’t mean you deserve one or that your opinion is any good. And if your reasoning is bad or unbalanced, or if your concern is to show off your piety rather than help the Church, or if you aren’t in any way responsible for the Faithful, your armchair whining isn’t helping anyone. I can’t speak for every diocese, but my bishop was basically in tears when he realized he had to do this, and we priests all felt, and still feel, the same way. This isn’t easy or fun for any of us, especially the clergy. And if you see us trying to cheer people up on social media, it’s because we’re trying to be shepherds rather than whiners. I’m proud that my brother priests have done their best to bear this with grace, and help others do the same, and leave the whining to me.
Not surprisingly, all the complaints about Mass cancellations I’ve heard are from people who aren’t medical experts, aren’t much at risk, and aren’t clergy. I would like to address them as follows:
With all due respect, Your Holiness St. Pius XXX, kindly keep your opinion to yourself; I’m not going to break the law and let old people die so you can say you made it to Mass. And if God’s grace is something you actually care about at all, your whining is much worse for your soul than your having to watch Mass from home and beg for Spiritual Communion for a few weeks. None of us deserve the sacraments anyway. We need them, but our needs, in Catholic teaching, are not independent of the needs of our community. So grow up and learn that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
I suppose I should apologize if this all sounds harsh, but my tone is silk compared to that of the Holy Whiners Club. So listen up: this is horrible for all of us, not just you. Do something besides screaming your complaints into an abyss, or worse, into an audience whose hearts and minds you might really scandalize and corrupt with your whining. Call your grandparents instead. Believe me, the world will survive just fine without your opinions.
And everyone else: stop listening to podcasts (and reading blogs) unless they’re actually done by people who deserve an opinion. Read a book instead. Or talk to your kids. Or watch Batman movies.
Alternatively: dismiss this post as the unqualified opinion of a dumb angry priest blogger. Fine with me either way.
For the record, I know very well I sound exactly like this: