Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sophie and others: Am I being unclear?

I admit confusion and frustration. There is a pattern happening with several readers, and I am not sure why it's as common as it is.

To understand what I am going to say next, please go to this post, then scroll down and read Sophie's first comment from February 3, at 3:24pm. Then read all subsequent comments up to the point of her exit from the conversation.

Done? Okay....

Please note that either I or another commenter addressed each of her questions. We did not ignore her points nor did we scoff at them and then refuse to answer. We even addressed her points when she changed the subject.

It's (now familiar) exchanges like those that make me scratch my head. 

Specifically, let's look at the way it ended:

Sophie (not to be confused with Sophie Fletcher) said:

Reading through previous posts, it's obvious that your requests for debate are purely rhetorical. Little Catholic Bubble is a perfect description of the site. The wider world's ethical and medical views are simply ignored. I can't see the point in requesting comments when you have no interest in anyone's views but your own.

I responded: 

As for whether or not I want to hear other opinions on the blog, I have said this before: I never censor what the other side says. You can put your best case out there, and I will put my best case out there. We let the readers decide. I don't know why that translates to "The wider world's ethical and medical views are simply ignored. I can't see the point in requesting comments when you have no interest in anyone's views but your own." I am allowing you free rein to give your side of things. So, I am very confused about why you say it's being ignored here in the Bubble? Help?

And then I added:

Sophie, right at the top of my blog, there is a link to "A Welcome to Liberals" [This is now under "Please Read First"]. Here is part of what it says, just so that we are clear:

Dear liberals/leftists/secularists/atheists:

You are welcome in the Bubble! In fact, I encourage your comments and perspective. I will give you a fair hearing, I will not misrepresent you, and I will remain respectful in my questioning and responses. I often use Dennis Prager's saying, "I prefer clarity to agreement," and I really mean it.

You should know up front that I do not dialogue in order to reach "consensus." Some issues can't be reconciled. I dialogue so that we can have clarity about what each of us believes, which facilitates understanding but not necessarily agreement. It also allows readers to see both sides presented, and from there they can form their own opinions.

If you do not enjoy being challenged in your philosophy, if you do not like being pressed to go further, if you do not like questions (and more questions), then this is not the forum for you. But if you like a Socratic-type dialogue, then make yourself right at home here in the Bubble!

Sophie's response? More skirting of the question, and insults: 

Leila: As I observed previously, Little Catholic Bubble is exactly that. It's Catholic propaganda on fertility issues. As a non-Catholic I find some of the content rather creepy and bizarre.

There's no place here for anyone who doesn't accept your core values, so I'm not surprised few dissenters take up your "challenge". What would be the point? My own participation was clearly a waste of of my time.

Thankfully, outside the bubble, you're not getting much of an audience even among Catholics. Most Catholics here use contraception, and many have abortions. I'd be surprised if the same wasn't true in the US.

Disappointed, but used to this pattern by now, I answered:

Sophie, so basically you avoided the questions.

Blessings to you, and you are always welcome here.

And therein lies my confusion. What did Sophie think going in? That I would change my mind and discover that abortion is a good, or at least agree that both sides can be "right"? 

That's not what this blog is about. I won't be changing my mind on moral truth, and I do not expect that Sophie will change her mind either. However, I did expect an honest dialogue, with reasonable questions answered, not skirted. 

It's not as if I have misrepresented my viewpoint. This blog is clearly marked as a Catholic site, and whoever visits can see immediately that I uphold the teachings of the Church. Nevertheless, I invite persons of any and all beliefs to make their case to the readers, through debate and discussion. We dissect ideas here; we do not cast aspersions and run as soon as we face a difficult question.

Anyway, as a preventative measure, I have revamped my banner links. I would love any feedback on the "Please Read First" link: Is it clear? Does it leave any doubt or ambiguity about what we do on this site?

Thanks for your thoughts.


News note: For anyone still following the Planned Parenthood underage sex trafficking scandals, yet another disturbing video has been released, this time from New York, showing two PP employees more than happy to aid and abet child sex slavery. Time to yank taxpayer funding yet?


  1. Liberals are all for free speech and debate as long as it agrees with their opinion. As soon as you don't agree- especially if you are upholding a Biblical value, then you are narrow-minded, backward and stupid...oh yeah, and hate-filled. Because remember, they often think there is no right or wrong- it's only what is right or wrong to YOU- and what's right for you might not be right for everyone else. Ugh. I used to be just like that, I'm so glad God has shown me differently!

  2. I think that your Welcome to Liberals link is well stated and people that don't understand are misinterpreting your words by their own mistakes.

    I would write more but that's basically all I wanted to say and I have a 3 year old on my lap.

  3. The thing with Sophie's argument in the quotes directly above is that she resorts to personal insults, that some stuff is 'really creepy and bizzare'. It is disheartening to try and sincerely discuss things with people and find that they cannot and will not give you the dignity of an honest dialouge. In situations like this, I find this reference from the Bible to be most comforting and appropriate:
    "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." I'd rather be with Christ, than with the world.
    I think you stated our side well Leila and I love your blog.

  4. Thank you for being so eloquent and rational. I think that, sadly, sometimes the Sophies of the world have met with some Catholics or Christians who are far less well-spoken or patient, regardless of how noble their intentions, and this turns Liberals off to future dialogue no matter how calm and intelligent the Christian party is.

  5. I don't get it either. This is a Catholic blog so it should come as no surprise that you and the majority of the commenters uphold Catholic teaching.

    Sophie, truth is not determined by majority vote. It doesn't matter if 80%+ "Catholics" use contraception and get abortions; all that means is that the majority of Catholics are very poorly catechized. If someone did a poll in which they differentiated between faithful Catholics and cultural Catholics, the numbers would be a lot different. However, most polls do not. They count a person who follow's the Church's teachings, attends Mass every weekend and often goes to Confession as a "Catholic," and they count the person who was baptized in 1979 but has hardly darkened the door of a church since then as a "Catholic," and lump the two together. So the statistics you cite are meaningless from a faithful Catholic's POV.

  6. She just didn't want to answer the difficult questions. Plain and simple. She had you in a box before she started commenting, thought she'd swoop in and debunk everything in a comment or two, and then when she saw the hard questions asked of her, resorted to insults and left. At least that is the way it seems to me.

    I like to think, "Well, maybe they don't have time, since it does take quite a bit of time to delve into this discussion." But then, why not write, "I'm sorry, I just don't have the time to do this right now, but hopefully will in the future"?

    I have to admit the way she acted is frustrating. I really would have liked to have understood her position more!

    I realize that we're on the same side of this, but I would tell you if you weren't being clear or if you were evading questions. I think your "Please Read First" Section is clear and well stated. I do doubt that folks will actually read it first. But it's good to have it to refer to it.

  7. Leila--keep fighting the good fight. the reason Sophie responded in the way that she did is because you struck a nerve. People who are at 'peace' with their reasoning don't feel the need to resort to things like "lucky for us no one is really even reading The Bubble". Interesting assertion, since she obviously is. Who knows who else is, right? The fact that she feels she can't present her side of the story is of course, false, and speaks directly to the guilt she feels on her position. You are diplomatic, factual, respectful and good-natured: she is just uncomfortable with the facts you are putting out there and well she should.

  8. "However, I did expect an honest dialogue, with reasonable questions answered, not skirted."

    This is the frustrating thing w/ blog conversations. There's no benefit that a face-to-face discussion would provide. Blog commenting can quickly turn into a platform for people to spew and then leave. Commenting can take up enormous amounts of time, and most probably figure 'why bother?'

    But take heart. Blogs are a good thing, in that they allow people to take in the topic and think it over at their own pace. And it's the business of the Holy Spirit to change hearts, not us humans, as you know. So try not to get frustrated if people aren't responding in the way you (we) wish. We never know what changes of thought they're marinating in, even a year or so from today.

    Hope endures.

  9. Hmmm, I got into a heated debate with a Sophie from the U.K. on another blog and they seem eerily similar in tone and both quick to insult and also hostile to the Catholic Church. I would call that having a HUGE chip on the shoulder syndrome. So, if she's the same Sophie she already came with the attitude that you're a meanie and not open to other opinions. I guess you'd call that projection and that's what she suffers from.

  10. Thanks, everyone! It does make me think that Sophie never wanted to dialogue but only came to this blog to slam the Church. Especially if she is (possibly) doing the same thing on other blogs.

    Sophie Fletcher (a different Sophie) commented on the original post, trying to explain at least one of the things that the U.K. Sophie said. I hope you will go and read that, and my response (which goes on to the second page of comments).

    Nubby, I still need your mailing address to send you your Bubble Grand Prize! :)

  11. You're being completely clear and there's nothing to "get." It typifies every debate I've ever had with a liberal. They run out of arguments so they resort to bashing & name-calling. Period.

  12. "It does make me think that Sophie never wanted to dialogue but only came to this blog to slam the Church. Especially if she is (possibly) doing the same thing on other blogs."

    Yep, trolls. Just trolling thru to kick up skirmishes, etc.

    Sent a mailing address ... Hope it got thru.

  13. RE: what JoAnna said - "Sophie, truth is not determined by majority vote. It doesn't matter if 80%+ "Catholics" use contraception and get abortions; all that means is that the majority of Catholics are very poorly catechized.

    ~ Exactly!!

  14. Seems pretty clear to me! Sophie didn't respond in the end because she has nothing to respond on. You are on the side of objective truth. She would have been grasping for straws and left before she felt she was beat.

  15. "The wider world's ethical and medical views are simply ignored."
    You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.-James 4:4

  16. I think it's interesting that Sophie finds some things here "creepy." Okay, well, then if that is true, your blog is working as it should, right Leila? I mean, we're putting different sides out there and people can judge for themselves what and who they agree with.

  17. Sarah, you're right. And, I am actually so curious to find out what she thinks is "creepy" here. I hope she lets us know.

  18. New participant here. (Hi Leila.)

    Let's not ignore the obvious here. It's all but impossible to logically, rationally debate in favor of abortion rights because there IS NO compelling reason, in light of the facts, for abortion on demand to be considered a "right". What good is the right of freedom if the right to live isn't valued first and foremost? I imagine it must be extremely frustrating to try to argue such a thing, much as one may wish to remain convinced of their convictions. You certainly can't build your argument on the actual abortion process - though that is the heart of the debate. So one must skirt around the issue and try to refocus on other issues where perhaps there is something more convincing to present. Immigration. Healthcare. Which country is better than which others. This is like debating the death penalty by focusing on the demeanor of the prison guards, or the financials of the prison system, or how many prisons each country has. So what? It misses the point - perhaps intentionally.

    I said it's "all but impossible" to debate in favor of abortion rights, because for the vast majority of people, they want to win the debate with a compassionate standpoint, and so try to illustrate how abortion prevents more suffering than it creates. (An argument that is harder and harder to win as technology advances and enables us to examine how a baby in utero lives, and how it's destroyed. This knowledge is also a source of suffering for the women who feel abortion is still their best or only option. Guilt is a horrible weight to bear, though any "empowered" woman should prefer it to ignorance.)

    Strategically speaking, the best way to 'win' this debate is to forego any compassionate element and instead embrace the selfishness of living only for yourself. Embrace infanticide, euthanasia, weeding out the handicapped who burden us, etc. Dr P.eter S.inger (whom I watched debate 'morality' last year) encourages infanticide up to 18 months old for handicapped children. He didn't need to skirt the issue - he went right to the heart of it and said SO WHAT? If another life infringes on yours, you have the right to eliminate it.

    As long as abortion rights advocates try to pass off their arguments as compassionate, they will find it impossible to debate the issue with any semi-informed opponent.

  19. Sweet Jane, so glad you are here! Yes, I think you are right. I wish someone from the "pro-choice" side would respond to your thoughts.

    I've noticed that over the years the talking points for abortion rights have gone from "We are not killing... it's just a blob of tissue" to "Yes, we are killing, but a woman's life is more important than a fetus' life, so we have the right to kill."

    With Singer, et. al, now that sacred "right to kill" goes way past birth. It's chilling, really.

    Why feminists (who are generally pacifists re: war, and animal rights proponents) can't see this is a subject for another post.

    Great input!

    I really appreciate every single one of the comments here.

    I wish Sophie would come back and respond. Or any one on her side.

  20. “The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.”
    > Pope John Paul II

    Clearly, we all feel that Leila is open to dialogue but we have all experienced what seems to be an oxymoron: close-minded liberals. My daughter once told me that as she described me to some of her college buddies, she realized as "judgmental" as I might sound about actions and as many household rules as we had, I was one of the most accepting people she knew. It suddenly occurred to her that I actually did practice what I preached: hate the sin, love the sinner. Some of my liberal acquaintances can't make that distinction, if you don't accept the sin, then you must be an absolutely horrible holier-than-thou person. (I know of only one perfect person (well, maybe two - Mary was pretty awesome also!).) Anyway, I ramble, just saying that you can't have a rational discussion with a liberal who is blind to any other viewpoint but their own - too many times, I've realized that my liberal acquaintances (not my friends!)are much quicker to be cynical and harsh in their condemnation of someone else (and I walk away quietly - choking back the tears, praying that they find compassion - it isn't worth the fight).

  21. klh57-you must not have done much reading on this blog. Otherwise, you would have discovered many civil conversations with open minded peoples, conservative and liberal alike. And then you would also see the many derogatory, slanderous things that are said about liberals on this blog-mostly from commentators like yourself who are brief and mysterious. How "open minded" of you not to have liberal friends! ; )

    -miss g

    p.s. And no, right now, I do not have more time to debate anything else. I simply can't read an infuriating comment like the one above without saying something.

  22. [And then you would also see the many derogatory, slanderous things that are said about liberals on this blog]

    Can you provide an example, Miss G?

  23. Miss G -
    My liberal friends are very open-minded and non-judgmental and accepting, I truly admire them - that was my qualification. It is my liberal "acquaintances" who choose to be the "close-minded" liberals that I described. I keep them at a distance. I'm very sorry - I was not trying to make a blanket statement about every liberal....

  24. Miss G - I guess what I was really trying to say is that there are some times that - no matter which side you are on - you can't dialogue - because the other person isn't open to it. Leila was asking whether or not she was clear in her earlier discussion with Sophie and really just felt attacked by her - instead of being able to dialogue. It was my poor attempt to support Leila. Again, I am sorry if I offended you.

  25. Miss G, why does that infuriate you? Why are you always so quick to be offended personally? I have even dedicated entire posts to trying to explain that we don't think your are a monster, or that you are your beliefs or that when we criticize ideas we aren't condemning you.

    Again, am I not being clear?

    And I have to second JoAnna: What derogatory, slanderous things have been said about liberals? If you could give an example, I will take it seriously and then I will apologize. But if you are talking about criticizing ideas, then I can't apologize for that.

  26. klh57 I must say that only if one read your post with preconceived notions on what you meant could that person misconstrue it as being at All lacking in charity.

    I commend you.

  27. Thanks Anonymous - I didn't sleep well last night...

  28. Sophie - Help ME understand, too.

    You find posts on this blog to be creepy, and you don't find the notion of killing unborn babies creepy - even when it involves ramming scissors into their brains and suctioning out the contents of their heads?

    I don't understand the thinking at all.

  29. For the record, I am not personally offended by the comments (though i have been in the past: telling me I need to be "healed by Jesus" is EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE). I am indignant. Indignant that after so much debate, the same insult, the same response is hurled back and forth. Liberal=illogical, unable to listen, careless, immoral, close minded, etc.

    I don't know where Sophie is, but I can completely understand why she wouldn't feel like responding. In the end, there's no point to carrying on this conversation from the opposing viewpoint.

    -miss g

  30. Miss G, seriously this is frustrating. By your response just now, it is apparent to me that you don't even care to read the post and understand what the whole post was about. Where are the responses to the actual questions? Why is it always about a "reaction" and about emoting? Where are the answers? If you ask me questions, I answer them as best I can.

    Seriously, it is terribly frustrating.

    By the way, when a fundamentalist says to me "Are you saved?" and then finds out I'm a Catholic and then worries for my soul and tells me I am probably damned, I am not offended in the least. I am actually quite moved, in a way, that they care so much and that their faith is real enough to move them to do what they think will help my soul. Really, people are offended too easily I think.

    I remember one of my favorite Jewish commentators mentioning the same thing. He is not offended when his fundamentalist listeners want him to find Jesus and be "saved".

    We all need to stop being so insulted, indignant, sensitive to every statement.

    And please, I beg you, please just answer or react to the question, not what you think we think of you.

    Blessings, Miss G, and I am glad you are still hanging around.

  31. Miss G, you've yet to provide a concrete example of "derogatory, slanderous" comment re: liberals on this blog.

    Why is it inappropriate for a Christian to wish healing for you, spiritual or otherwise? Don't you feel the same way (i.e., don't you wish that Christians would come to realize that Christianity is untrue, just as you do)?

    Atheist Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller wasn't offended when a fan gave him a Bible. I think he has a good attitude about it.

  32. Miss G, do you agree with Sophie's statement that in the Bubble, "The wider world's ethical and medical views are simply ignored"?

    Do you think that's true? I have done entire posts on Singer's views, for example, and reprinted numerous letters and comments of "the other side" without censoring or changing meanings. There are hundreds of comments from the secular readers of this blog.

    Now, it is true that the "wider world" "simply ignores" (or openly ridicules) the Christian ethical and medical views, so it's hard to understand where Sophie's complaint comes in. It seems to me that the problem is just the opposite of what she states. Thoughts?

  33. Leila,

    By the title and nature and proclaimed purpose of your blog, I don't expect you to be embracing ethical and medical views that go against Catholic Church doctrine. Still, it is sometimes a little shocking (for lack of a better word) to the secularist to read some of the viewpoints posted here.

    I don't think the non-Christian world ridicules Christian ethical and medical views as much as you think but then again, that's also a matter of personal experience. Perhaps if I were Christian, I'd feel differently. As a non-Christian, I feel like references to Christianity are everywhere in daily life.


    So you'd be okay if I gave you a Yule log on the winter solstice and wished the great goddess to visit your house with plentiful food for the year?

    Reasons why being told I need the healing of Jesus is offensive: #1 There is nothing to heal, unless Jesus can get rid of hypothyroidism and last time I checked, that wasn't possible. I feel great, am happy and lead a fulfilling life. #2 How presumptuous to tell me I need healing based solely on the comment I made regarding a political subject. I might see the logic in such a comment if I was talking about suicide or depression.

    As for Penn and Teller, not all atheists are alike : ) I can agree that a Bible is a good book to have because it is so often cited in literature and it's good to know the root of biblical references in literature. Still, the gift of a Bible is slightly different than being told you need to be healed by Jesus.

    Okay, off to work!
    -miss g

  34. So you'd be okay if I gave you a Yule log on the winter solstice and wished the great goddess to visit your house with plentiful food for the year?

    Sure I would! Actually, one of my pagan friends always wishes me a happy Yule, blessed solstice, etc. I wish her a Merry Christmas in return. We're both happy because we like and respect each other despite our differences.

    #1 - Great, glad to hear it! (The hypothyroidism aside, that is -- I hope it doesn't trouble you too much.) If you have so much confidence in the state of your own emotional/moral health, why does the fact that some random online person disagreees so threatening to you?

    #2 - Abortion is a political issue that transcends into the area of morality. If you made a comment about the political issue of abortion that suggested your moral health was suffering, then it's not at all surprising that one would wish healing for you in that area.

    Despite what many politicians believe, it's not possible to be pro-life personally but pro-choice politically. Either you believe it's wrong to kill babies, period, or you don't. There's no middle ground. To say otherwise is like saying, "Well, I believe child abuse is reprehensible, but I can't make that choice for others."

  35. Miss Gwen, Sophie said creepy, you said shocking. Can you help me out and tell me what is shocking about Catholic teaching? Thanks!

    (You don't think the world mocks the Church's teachings on condoms, sex outside of marriage, celibacy for priests, no IVF, no gay marriage, no masturbation, etc?)

    And I would love if a sincere pagan sincerely wished me some (in her mind) good stuff.


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