A New Year message for this blog’s remaining reader, whereat your host rambles a bit

Hullo Brian, hullo Sue. You know, in a very real sense, what with it being the New Year and all, it’s as good a time as any to check in.

You’ll have noticed that this blog has been on an extended sabbatical. No, I’m not dead, just been doing other things. But I do notice that the absence of my golden words from the blogosphere has been overinterpreted in some quarters, which I suppose is my own fault for going on an unannounced sabbatical. Moreover, the occasional query as to when I was coming back has now become a minor clamour. So, while I usually avoid explaining myself, much less providing mission statements, here’s something by way of an explanation.

Running a blog with a regular – at times prolific – level of posting over an extended period of time can be tough, and it’s certainly time-consuming. It’s especially tough if you’re blogging individually, rather than on a group blog where you can slack off for a while and hide behind the work of others.

And you know, at times, the real world intrudes. There are times when family and work have to take precedence. I’ve also been involved in an extended writing project which, believe it or not, is not available on the web. This meant that, if I was going to get anything done, I needed to exert a bit of self-discipline and avoid the temptation to whack up a daily blogpost.

Besides which, the main purpose of this blog has always been to entertain myself, and provide an outlet for various rants. If anyone else got some value out of it, that was a bonus. There are two conclusions following from that. One is that, if blogging ever stopped being fun, I wouldn’t have much of a motivation to do it; and at times it’s got to be a bit of a chore. To balance against that, I am an incorrigible troublemaker, as if you didn’t know.

The second conclusion is that, this blog being mostly (not exclusively) a bit of fun, well yes, it could always be idiosyncratic and has often been tongue-in-cheek. Hence the blend of high politics, low culture, slightly risqué humour and straightforward whimsy. This is something that I think some readers have always appreciated, but has been lost on those who either didn’t get the joke or else were just congenitally hard of reading. For instance, I’ve been a constant disappointment to those leftist readers whose idea of a good political blog was one that produced large quantities of stentorian Marxist-Leninist agitprop. Why they didn’t simply go elsewhere instead of hanging around the comments box complaining and demanding that I write the sort of stuff they wanted to read, I’ll never know. I suppose it can be taken as flattering.

Something similar applies since I’ve been writing more on religious matters. Allow me to go into this in a little detail, if you will. I’ve never considered myself a Catholic blogger in the sense that, say, Jimmy Akin is a Catholic blogger. Jimmy does apologetics, and does so very well indeed. I’m capable of doing apologetics, but I don’t really have the temperament for it. Partly it’s a simple journalistic instinct of going where the interesting stories are, deploying whatever knowledge and insight I can bring to matters. And I can’t deny that the possibility of a CathoLeaks service appeals mightily to my mischievous side.

But yes, I am invested. I do have axes to grind. And my basic agenda isn’t all that mysterious. If I may briefly outline it:

  • I’d like to see good governance in the Church. One of the most frustrating things about Catholic affairs is the uselessness of ecclesiastical bureaucracies. Not merely in terms of the sexual abuse scandal – though that shines a particularly harsh light – but much more generally. Any reasonably informed Catholic knows that incompetence and maladministration are rife in the Church, and that there’s a serious leadership vacuum at the episcopal level. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a utopian. I don’t demand that all of our bishops be inspiring leaders, competent administrators, intelligent theologians and articulate spokesmen in the public square. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that a few of them might tick at least one of those boxes. Cardinal Ouellet, please take note.
  • I’d like to see better liturgy. Again, I’m not one of these super-traddies who rejects the Novus Ordo and all its works and pomps. I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a bit of quality control. Fewer out-of-tune guitars, fewer tie-dyed polyester vestments, fewer earthenware vessels and fewer godawful Yoof Masses would be a start. And the Traditional Latin Mass (not to mention the rather beautiful Gaelic liturgy) to be made readily available for those who want it.
  • I have a low tolerance threshold for sectarianism. This may to some extent be a north of Ireland thing, in that I’m more sensitive to sectarianism and less willing to let it go by unchallenged. But the papal visit to Britain brought into rather sharp focus how Romophobic tubthumping has become acceptable, even trendy, in polite society and particularly in left-liberal circles. One positive aspect to that may be that an increasing number of Catholics are willing to speak up, rather than studiously pretending not to notice anything as their parents’ generation might have done.
  • Finally, attacking the hypocrisy of the Tablet is its own reward.

So, there you have it. Will I be coming back on a regular basis? I don’t want to make rash promises, but there is still plenty I’d like to say – plenty that needs to be said, and that I’m not sure anyone else is rushing to do. People keep asking me when I’m coming back. Titus Oates has been having much too easy a time of it in my absence, and I’d hate to think that Ma Pepsi having the Tablet office swept for bugs was all in vain.

Besides, like I say, born troublemaker and all that. So watch this space. And for those of you who’ve hung around, and especially those who’ve left positive feedback, thanks. It really does mean a lot.

Rud eile: I really shouldn’t have to say this but evidently I do – if you’re going to leave comments, play nice. It’s never been an ambition of mine to own my own bearpit.


  1. January 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Northern Ireland and Michael Merrick. Michael Merrick said: RT @SplinterSunrise: A New Year message for this blog's remaining reader, whereat your host rambles a bit: http://wp.me/p4iHf-Gn […]

  2. Crouchback said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    You’re back…..well done, and welcome.

    A thought about incompetence and maladministration. Last week we visited a parish in……Scotland…..no names or pack drill, the priest is doing his best in a pretty blasted out area, only a few pensioners left attending mass. In the house, the priest points out how the large house he is living in alone seriously needs repair…..”the previous priest neglected this”…….question, who gave them the right to neglect what their parishioners have paid for with the sweat of their brow….????

    They cant attract seminarians, they don’t even move when dry rot is staring them in the face……what if anything……CAN they do….???

    As for Catholeaks…….ripper…..go for it

  3. cornubian said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    It’s good to hear you’re not blogging off for good. If you ever write anything you think a Cornish or Breton Republican might be interested in let me know.

    The Cornish Republican: http://thecornishrepublican.blogspot.com/ (ex-democrat) Your link to me is broken. The Breton party Emgann has now become Breizhistance – Indépendance et Socialisme: http://www.breizhistance.tv/

  4. Simon Cotton said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Welcome back.

  5. Madam Miaow said,

    January 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Omigod. Garbo speaks!

    Good luck with the Orwell Blog Prize. (Everyone, closing date for this year is 19th January.) And happy new year.

  6. Brother John said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Perhaps a New Year resolution is in order: what about we resolve to be less touchy when people criticise the Catholic Church?

  7. Ken MacLeod said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Delighted to see you back, and all the best for the future.

  8. 98beecher said,

    January 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I am so glad you are back! I hope whatever you wrote becomes a best seller! Happy New Year!

  9. Sonja Foxe said,

    January 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Hi — i liked the jack barnes rap — very astute. I’m finishing up the book my cousin got me for Xmas (festivus) — Tariq Ali’s Redemption … which is a roman a clef for the international trotkyist movement, 4th int’l & all … wicked funny. Barnes is Jim Noble therein … the ‘movement’ post the fall of the wall …

  10. Joe Mc said,

    January 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Glad you’re back.

  11. Ian Williams said,

    January 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Good to see you back & holding out the prospect of more posts. Best wishes.

  12. Simon said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Hurrah: welcome back to the ‘sphere!

  13. January 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    […] Check it out here […]

  14. Simon said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    PS. Disgusted to learn that you have been writing something not available on the interne; it pains me even to type those words.. Did you seek clearance from Sunny Hundal first? Did you not get the memo about the new zeitgeist?

  15. johng said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Good to see you back. On Catholicism I’d be interested in an insiders take on Macintyres latest God, Philosophy and Universities, which is essentially an extended reflection on the Catholic philosophical tradition. Blame kindle.

  16. Ken MacLeod said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I see Sonja Foxe, the commenter above, has on another thread posted a very interesting addition to JFK conspiracy theories. I suppose it makes as much sense as any other …

    • January 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm

      You can take the comrade out of the insanely paranoid cult, but it’s much more difficult to take the insane paranoia out of the comrade. Note that people who’ve left Scientology and have a very sharp appreciation of the crimes and lies of that organisation’s leadership tend to have similar troubles shaking off the habits of thought they were taught.

  17. shane said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Welcome back and good luck with your writing project.

  18. BenSix said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I suppose it makes as much sense as any other …

    That’s what happens when you get too into magic bullets.

    Good to have ye back, Splintered.

  19. Harry Monro said,

    January 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    good to see you return, don’t overwork yourself mind, I hope you’ll have room for the fun and games around the coming Free State elections

  20. Marc said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Glad to see your post, and best wishes for many blessings in this new year.

  21. paulinlancs said,

    January 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Simply not good enough. I continue to demand stentorian Marxist-Leninist agitprop.

  22. Richard Searle said,

    January 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    was getting separation anxiety…..

    glad to see you stroll back on to the pitch, may battle commence

  23. Sue Sims said,

    January 10, 2011 at 8:03 am


    Like sinking into a hot bath when for the last three months the boiler’s been on the blink.

  24. galgani73 said,

    January 10, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Good to have you back..Excellent!

  25. HarpyMarx said,

    January 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Good to see you back Splinty!! 🙂

  26. socialistedd said,

    January 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Welcome back

  27. Duncan said,

    January 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Welcome back!

  28. Tiggy said,

    January 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Great that you are back. I will be directing one or two Priest friends in the direction of your blog!

  29. January 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

    welcome back!

  30. robert said,

    January 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Weldcom back Splinty!

  31. January 13, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Welcome back – you were missed!

  32. Benedict Ambrose said,

    January 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Totally splintastic.

  33. Woody Jones said,

    January 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Happy to restore you to my “favorites” collection, Splinty. Keep up the good work.

  34. GEORGIER said,

    January 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    welcome back and I like the Rabbi Blue reference.

  35. Mick Brody said,

    January 14, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Welcome back, you were missed

  36. GOR said,

    January 14, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Deinim gairdeas romhat a SS (a Éirí gréine scealptha… or something)

  37. Res Miranda said,

    January 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm


  38. Colm said,

    January 15, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I’m glad you’re back. You are one of the few people I know that share left wing politics as well as traditional Catholicism. It makes me glad not to be the only one!

  39. Darius Jedburgh said,

    January 15, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Welcome back sir

  40. 7Stars said,

    January 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm


    I’ve always loved your blog, yet I felt it would be better with an infusion of stentorian Marxist-Leninist agitprop.

    Seriously though, I think it’s a good contribution and many others do as well.

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