What Would You Call This Style Of Bad Writing?

What Would You Call This Style Of Bad Writing?

Describing writing isn’t that different from writing about painting. You want to say what the writing or the picture is about, but words fail, the essence is slippery, the description ultimately incomplete. Maybe the best you can do is show the painting or writing and let others see for themselves what it’s all about.

Yet, knowing this, the urge remains. So let me try to describe a kind of writing now common in certain religious quarters. The kind of writing that when you come across it a feeling of nausea develops. The kind where you can’t say in any given word or sentence exactly what has gone wrong, but that, when it’s all put together, the disease is obvious. This kind of writing might be best captured in one word: effeminate.

Start with the headline (the typo, for once, isn’t mine or my enemy’s): “Many laity find Catholic Church to be ‘judgemental and condemning’“.

I’d guess only one in a hundred, maybe fewer, see the contradiction. Do you?

If you can’t, then substitute judge for find—the two are synonyms here—and read the headline again.

If you don’t like that swap, try condemn for finds.

The You’re All Judgmental Fallacy is similar to the Imposing Your Beliefs Fallacy (discussed here). Both slide judgments and impositions in arguments under disguise. Every time somebody says don’t be judgmental, they are being judgmental. Every time somebody says don’t try to impose your beliefs, they are trying to impose their beliefs.

That’s one. Here’s two: and three:

Earlier this year, laity were invited to meet and discuss issues within the Catholic Church in a “listening” process that is part of the build up to the Synod on Synodality called by Pope Francis and scheduled to take place next year

The bizarre scare quotes around listening trigger me. The bile rises to my molars. It’s gay, pathetic, squeamish, and condescending all that once. Just what in the world—I mean the world itself—do you need to listen to at this late date? Who cannot see the signs?

As we discussed before, synod means meeting. As in people sitting around and “listening” to words they don’t hear, drinking stale coffee, pretending not to stare at their phones, making idiotic and asinine comments in an effort to signal to the attendees one’s importance or intelligence (always a self-refuting act). Meetings.

So what in the unholy Hell can a “Synod on Synodality” mean except “Meeting on Meetingness”? As in, let’s get together in a meeting and discuss the nature of getting together in meetings? As in, how we can spread the spirit of meetingness and encourage people to have meetings?

It’s therefore obvious synodality is not a word, but a cartoon of a word, designed purely as a signal, a code word. When somebody in earnest speaks “synodality“, he looks for the heads that nod and knows he has found allies.

The same heads bounce when hearing judgmental and condemning.

The code word therefore describes the group who wish to pass judgement and condemn the Church, the group who wishes to impose their values on the Church. When this is done openly and clearly, as by, say, the ACLU or some woke scatterbrain, we understand it. The enemy identifies herself in an admirable way. When it is done by code, by synods on synodality, we know we are dealing with spies and covert action.

Never mind, never mind. Back to the writing. There are some words on some document or other, then this:

According to an initial analysis of the diocesan reports for The Tablet there is a “sense of the unity of voice” with which the Catholic laity have spoken.

Unity of voice? What was it the valley girls used to say? Gag me with a spoon? Make it a big one, the kind with serrated edges used to scrap out grapefruit. Anything to end the pain.

It goes on and on like this. Right after another instance of synodalians condemning and judging judging and condemning, we see the true desire revealed: they want “a more tolerant attitude towards those deemed to be in irregular relationships” and they say “the Church’s position on women was seen as anachronistic and damaging.”


Well, I’ve said it a thousand times, but the Church still will not let men becomes nuns. This angers many.

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  1. Louise Callaghan

    No, no. Everything *you* believe is wrong.

  2. JR Ewing

    This kind of anti-church whining has aggravated me for a long time.

    The beliefs of the place define the place. If the church changes its beliefs, then it’s no longer the same place.

    One can ask, “If you don’t like it, why do you continue to go there? Why not find a different church that better suits your sensitivities? Why must this place accommodate you?”

    But that is the wrong question. Or at least, the wrong answer.

    They continue to go there because they actually don’t like the place. QED

  3. JDaveF

    That darn Catholic church is still judging and condemning murderers, adulterers, and thieves – so behind the times!

  4. john b()

    “Many laity find Catholic Church to be ‘judgemental and condemning’“.

    Is that contradictory, irony or hypocrisy?
    What I find contradictory is the statement ‘judgemental and condemning’
    The condemning part denies that there was any judgment in the first part

  5. Hagfish Bagpipe

    But Briggs, if you stop people from saying stupid stuff then what are we going to talk about? If you succeed in eliminating irrational, illogical, and idiotic nonsense the world will fall silent. If sin is eliminated who will want to get out of bed in the morning? If stupid disappears what will we laugh about? What will you write about? No sir, this is the best possible world; lots to say and do, lots to laugh at, love and hate. Ah, sweet life!

  6. BDavi52

    And let’s take it a few steps further:
    “Many laity ‘judge’ the Catholic Church to be ‘judgemental and condemning’“.

    We then might add: “Many readers judge the laity’s judgement of the Catholic Church’s judgment to be judgemental & condemning. And on and on.

    But more fundamental still:
    The Church SHOULD be judgmental and condemning. How could it not be? If there is good and bad, right & wrong, sinful & righteous, then surely it is the function of the Church to help mortal men distinguish one from the other.

    Of course if what is desired by the sinful man is unthinking and unconditional acceptance, as is, absent even a hint of condemnation….well then, yes, even the slightest potential criticism (You know, Mr. Bundy, perhaps your interactions with women could be less, shall we say, homicidal?) would be anathema.

    So sure, let us condemn all the condemning, break out the booze, and have a ball! After all, isn’t having fun and feeling good what it’s all about, Alfie?

  7. Well… clearly you don’t have access to the first draft. I’ve drafted reports for panels and boards charged with carrying out public hearings. So..

    “Earlier this year, some carefully selected laity were invited to meet and discuss issues within the Catholic Church in a listening process that is part of the build up to the Synod called by Pope Francis and scheduled to take place, over our objections, next year.

    Many of the more thoughtful among the faithful we heard from pointed out that it is the role of the church to condemn sin and promote reasoned Christian judgement.

    In response we were able to invite large numbers of people with more amenable views and the report will be correspondingly both honest and selective in deciding which views are stressed.

  8. Incitadus

    Bad writing is like modern art with enough repetition almost anyone can be convinced
    of what it’s not. Except maybe a five year old.

    Hagfish is Brigg’s alter ego…

  9. SusanS

    Shouldn’t your first sentence say isn’t that different “from”? But thank you.
    I’m probably wrong.

  10. Briggs



  11. C-Marie

    The real Catholic Church remains and always will remain as it always has been. The core is stable in Christ. It is the bearer and declarer of Jesus Christ our Saviour, of God our Father, of the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier. That never changes.

    That which changes, are men’s carnal decisions regarding changing the unchangeable norms by which we are to live. And so, the church system of man, which is within the true Catholic Church, proceeds. And so, meetings of synodality occur with the mostly unspoken premise of drawing men away from the Truth, yet the real goal is recognized by many who are unfaithful, and by many who are faithful.

    The Holy Spirit will teach each person the Truth, who desires to be taught the Truth. Those who prefer the carnal ways of the world, will turn from the Truth and will be moved by self or the enemy, to accept temptations to sin, with excuses at times.

    Pray for our faithful Bishops and priests and deacons and laity …. and for those who will come back …. and for those whose hearts will belong to Jesus.
    God bless, C-Marie

  12. Forbes

    I’m not Catholic, but I always find curious those, both C and not-C, who find fault with the institution for “not changing with the times,” when its purpose is to provide a stable moral foundation as an antidote to the chaos and confusion that exists in the world.

  13. John R T

    SusanS – different . . UK/USA: ‘than/from’, No?

  14. SusanS

    Oh thanks I didn’t know .

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