Friday, August 04, 2006

Don't Miss "Bottom Feeding"

Don't miss Elizabeth Kaeton's most recent foray into the blogosphere ... "Bottom Feeding" on her blog "Telling Secrets." You'll want to read it all here but here's a little appetizer: I referred to this practice of trolling for a little speck of dirt to stir up ecclesiastical sand storms of chaos and controversy as “Bottom Feeders.” You know what I mean by bottom feeders, yes?

From: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. NOUN: 1. A fish or other animal that feeds on the bottom of a body of water. 2. One that feeds low on the food chain; a scavenger. 3. Slang a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others OTHER FORMS: bottom feeding —NOUN bottom-feeding (btm-fdng) —ADJECTIVE“Bottom feeding.”

Let me be very clear. I’m not name-calling. Indeed, I’m now more convinced than ever that this is precisely the appropriate term for the dynamic which is currently at work in the church – especially in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. I’m naming that dynamic and exposing it for what it is: “Bottom feeding.”

“Bottom feeding” is the operating principle which has given birth to the present schism in the church today. Some folks have been working very, very, very EXTRA hard to make this a reality. Stir up enough controversy, create a few calamities and, voila! It has happened. We now have a church is schism.

Brava, Elizabeth!


Anonymous said...

This is discouraging. I’m in favor of vigorous discourse, and I recognize that both sides throw around words intended to wound – “apostate,” and, “bigot,” for example. While there are more elegant ways of making the point, at least these types of terms are tangentially related to the subject, and I’m sure people saying them believe they are, at some level, true.

“Bottom feeder,” however, is nothing more than an insult. Is this where we’ve arrived? It won’t do to lay out the definition and show how it technically applies. By that logic, I should be able to call homosexuals, “deviants,” on this blog and get away with it. After all, homosexuality diverges sharply from customary, traditional, or generally accepted behavior, right? But we both know the term is intended to offend and adds nothing to the debate.

Maybe it’s clichéd, Rev. Susan, but both you and Elizabeth Kaeton are also priests, and while you’re human like the rest of us, your vocation calls you to model more Christ-like behavior than this. Yes, you certainly are name-calling.

To echo the comments I made below, you are absolutely wrong to say our side has, “stir[red] up . . . controversy.” As you know, the changes have come from your side: if there had been no push for innovation, there would be no controversy and no push back. That doesn’t mean change should never happen so that we can avoid arguing, but it does mean it is disingenuous to blame the resulting trouble on the party that hasn’t moved.

And: is it, “trolling,” to post dissenting comments on liberal blogs? Personally, I reject the term. It’s funny that in the thread below, Fr. Jake characterized a post of mine (a reasonable one, in my humble opinion) as intended to kill the conversation. It seems that calling a commenter a, “troll,” is explicitly meant to do the same. If opposing views aren’t welcome, you should all just say so.


Dear Phil,

And my experience differs from yours. Absolutely I believe the controversy du jour has been precipitated not by the "changes" you hold up as unholy innovations and we hold up as the work of the Holy Spirit but by those insisting that their criteria for being included in this church is being agreed with.

And having been disagreed with one time too many they have opted to foment our differences into the division they seek -- damn the torpedos, full schism ahead.

As for "trolling" I'm not even familar with that terminology but I'm happy to post dissenting comments as long as they are germaine and respectful.

And as for "name calling" I'll point back to Elizabeth's contextualizing the term "bottom feeding" as descriptive of her experience of late by many in the conservative blogosphere. I might have chosen different language myself but I found the piece both accurate and powerful ergo the link.

Lisa Fox said...

Phil said: As you know, the changes have come from your side: if there had been no push for innovation, there would be no controversy and no push back.

Didn't the Pharisees say something quite similar to Jesus?

Lisa Fox said...

Phil, take a fresh look at that ACN/AAC/whatever video, Choose this Day, and I think you'll be able to identify exactly what radicalized some us, and me for sure!

Lisa Fox said...

About the term "trolling."

As I think you know, Elizabeth+ is very, very new to the blogosphere. I gather she had seldom even read many of them before starting hers for GC. I'm just guessing here, but it would surprise me if she's familiar with the term "troll" as it's used in blogs.

And you must not be a fisherman. I believe she's using trolling in that sense -- trolling slowly along a river, looking for fish. I took her use of the term to refer to blog owners who indeed seem to troll through liberal/reappraiser blogs looking for a juicy morsel they can use to stir up trouble. In fact, they very seldom bother to leave comments. They just take those snippets over to their blogs so folks can use them for target practice.

Yikes! I think I've mixed enough metaphors here for one day. I'll quit before I drive somebody in seine. < vbg >

Anonymous said...

A word in defense of piscine bottom feeders - they are highly useful in the ecology of rivers, and useful in cleaning your aquarium from scum. Also, around here, river bottom feeders represent free food for the not-so-well-off elderly retirees "gone fishin'".