Friday, July 29, 2011

Freind's Friends not my Friends

Email Protocol

You've heard that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no doubt. For some reason the opposite doesn't work, if we take the opposite to be: the friend of my friend is my friend. Why is that?

Well, it's easier to have an enemy than it is to have a friend. An enemy is simply someone you are against. A true enemy is someone you want to hurt or destroy. There are a million ways to hurt someone. To benefit someone requires a more delicate balance. We all know of times when you meant well, but it didn't end up well. A friend of mine calls that "going from a hero to a zero." Such has been my week.

As the subheading indicates, this is about an email. I sent an email out to about a dozen friends about something. Many of them sent it out to others. One of these others (at least) was offended by it and did something so as to upend the whole enterprise. Not the whole enterprise but an important portion of it. The email was meant to cause a benefit for a friend of mine, someone I deeply admire. The do-gooder, who was offended by my email, sent it on to my friend, for whom I was trying to effect a surprise benefit. My friend was deeply embarrassed by the whole thing, as anyone would be in that circumstance. Sorry for being so vague here. I know some of you know exactly to what I am referring. The details aren't important, though. It's about a life-lesson.

Here at thetheologyofdad I do a great deal of reflecting just before I press the 'publish' button and throw my thoughts out onto the www for potentially the whole world to read and, as happens, misread. I've written many things to which others have taken exception. I regret very few of them, btw, some of them, but very few of them. I am not 'everyman,' or even 'every Catholic.' I don't want to live my life that way, as someone equally digestible by all. I don't want to live avoiding problems. So, sometimes I am blunt and give offense. It has served me well, and it has caused me problems. I am not a saint and will never allow someone to assume that I have it all together, that thetheologyofdad is about me saying, 'Hey, everyone, look at me, what a great guy I am!' You have to write a certain amount of grit into your stuff so as to keep it morally authentic. My horror is to set myself up as some guru. I know that what lies inside this heart is very flawed and should not serve as a model for others. I don't want to guide others, just to be good enough to guide my children. That's my goal, nothing else. I consider myself a teacher of important facts not of virtue. Sorry if this disappoints anyone (most of all Socrates, who thought these were the same thing). The whole Fr. Corapi thing, the Maciel thing before it, shows that people need role models. I am not one. I am just a guy who wants to educate and encourage other Catholics. I'm a nice guy, but not a saint.

But enough autobiography.

Lesson: always say this email is for your eyes only.

Or, there are inflammatory things in this email that would potentially offend, hurt, others. Be careful with it. Contents hot. Caution. Soyez prudence.

The reason my email went south was that many people do not understand that just because we are all Catholics does not mean that we are all friends. We do not all see things the same way, even daily communicants who agree on issues X, Y, and Z. That people do not get this always surprises me.

Anyway, I am a wiser person today than yesterday. And am very sorry to my friend!

Now, do I press 'publish'?


  1. Dear Colin. I am glad to know you, your dear wife, and your children are out there. It does my heart good. I am a pastor in the Archdiocese of Montreal and would not have known about you but for the fact your blog is a favored link on Archbishop Terrence Prendergast's blog, which in turn is favored by Bishop-elect Thomas Dowd here in Montreal. I sympathize with your shock at the email for a friend turned sour.... I never cease to be amazed how inclined some folks are to pass emails on, often without much thought of what effect it might have on either the one they send it to or the one from whom it came. We need to learn to respect intellectual property as much as material goods. Peace to you, Anne-Marie, and your family. Fr Gilles

  2. Dear Father,

    Thank you very much! Now, let's pray I learn from my mistakes... Life is funny sometimes, but I never doubt that the get what I deserve - unfortunately. Glad to see there are still holy priests there in Montreal ;) I see that you are just starting blogging. Keep it up!