Thursday, December 29, 2016

Four Bloggers Submit Dubium to Eye of the Tiber Concerning Its Status as Satire

Four prominent members of the Catholic blogosphere – Fr John Zuhsldorf of Fr Z’s Blog (formerly called “What Does the Prayer Really Say?”), canonist Dr Edward Peters, author of the blog In the Light of the Law, Amy Welborn of Charlotte Was Both, and Matthew Archbold of Creative Minority Report – have presented a formal request to S.C. Naoum, the author of the blog Eye of the Tiber, asking him to clarify whether the items which he posts are in fact satirical.

Although EOTT is thought by many to be a purely humorous website, it has long suffered from what is sometimes known as an “Onion problem.” This term derives from the website The Onion, (which bills itself as America’s Finest News Source,) many of whose articles have been mistaken for true news stories over the years; this has happened so often, in fact, that the Wikipedia article about The Onion has a whole subsection dedicated to the occasions on which its articles have been mistaken for actual news.

Even on its own website, EOTT says “We are proud to have recently been nominated for Best Catholic News Satire, narrowly losing out to the National Catholic Reporter, proving thus that, more trusted Catholic news sources aside, Eye of the Tiber is your most trusted Catholic news source.” “The confusion runs deep here,” noted Fr Z. “NCRep. (a.k.a. ‘The Fishwrap’) is the most self-serious publication outside all of Christendom. How are we supposed to take this?”

Screen shot of Eye of the Tiber taken today.
In a forward to their dubium, the four bloggers write, “The sending of this letter to Eye of the Tiber derives from a deep pastoral concern. We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the Church.”

Several specific articles are cited as examples of those in which it is difficult or impossible for the ordinary Catholic to discern the difference between truth and fiction. Here we give only a small selection of the items of greatest concern:

Second Year Of Mercy To Allow An Individual’s Conscience To Absolve One’s Own Sins
Dissident Theologian Hans Kung Petitions Pope To Reconsider Dogma Of Christ’s Resurrection
Man Whose Every Word Is Misrepresented Thinks 12,000 Word Interview A Good Idea
“Most Of The Words That Come Out Of My Mouth Are Invalid,” Pope Francis Suggests

As may be imagined, reactions to the publication of the dubium have varied through the world of Catholic internet journalism. One writer thought to be very close to Naoum has stated that EOTT’s satirical intent is perfectly unmistakable, needs no clarification, and has also been thoroughly clarified. He even went so far as to point out that “Naoum” is a variant of the name of the Biblical prophet Nahum, which means “consoled”, and “since the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Paraclete’, a Greek word which means ‘the consoler’, Naoum’s satirical work is obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit. To deny this is practically blasphemy, and those who don’t accept this will simply be left behind as the Church moves on to the next act of satire.”

Others have come out in support of the four bloggers, citing EOTT’s own comments’ section on many of its articles, and innumerable postings on Facebook which demonstrate how significant its “Onion problem” has become. One blogger who writes under the pseudonym Vapulabitis told the National Catholic Register, “Just before Christmas, an excruciatingly serious Catholic internet publication posted an article which claimed (among other things) that the Enneagram was invented by the Desert Fathers. The line between news and satire has gotten blurred… dangerously blurred.”

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