On this day in 2002, it was a time when scandals in the Church were the catalyst for new voices. Or something. Several well-known weblog authors (or, more accurately, two bloggers who got tired of me sending them my stuff) urged me to start my own weblog. And so I did.
People get its name wrong all the time. This page is titled for the object of many a compliment, my signature chapeau ...
man with black hat
Let's go over that again, shall we?
Four words, all one syllable each. And all lower case, like that poet e e cummings. What kind of excuse did he have that I don't?
I ask because people get it wrong:
Man with the Black Hat.
Man in a Black Hat.
Arrogant son of a b ...
Well, you get the idea. And it's not just amateur bloggers who screw up something so simple, but alleged professionals. Spero News got the title wrong. Twice. (Guys, if you're reading this, that's only one of two reasons I stopped writing for you.) It was supposed to have a ring to it, similar to "Dances With Wolves" or some other Native American name. Or epic movie.
Sometimes I think I should have come up with something more clever, a name which by itself would draw a crowd if I did nothing but post images of puppy dogs and kitty cats. "The Crescat." Ever see anyone misspell that one? Of course not. And she can post videos from Family Guy and all the good Catholic boys and girls are okay with it. "The Curt Jester." Nice little play on words, that one, and he gets invited on radio talk shows. (I don't listen to radio talk shows. Reading what someone has to say is always faster than listening to them, especially when the guy in the next cubicle keeps yelling at you to turn it down. I hate when that happens.) "The Cafeteria Is Closed." Now that's what I call a catchy title. Imagine where I'd be today had I used that one. (sigh!)
In the past year my following has grown. It is hardly a phenomenal growth, or I'd still be showing pictures of a recent trip to Rome that never happened. I know that other blogging and news sites do peruse my pages from time to time. I am referenced on Newsy.com (which got the title correct), and have been featured on Gloria.tv. It is an honor to know that opinion makers and well-known bloggers are aware of my work, and even make note of it themselves. It's like that little-known singer-songwriter, the one whose work is performed by megastars, but only the really cool people know who he is. Yeah, it's kinda like that.
Alas, the demands on my time have not lessened in recent months. Occasionally our work is published late, which is to say it may be dated Monday evening, but doesn't actually get "posted" until Tuesday morning. Unlike many "famous" bloggers who get to live off either generous book royalties or rich husbands, I have a day job, one where I am sufficiently overpaid. This is necessary, of course, if I ever expect to live in or near a city like Washington, DC, where six years ago, no mortgage lender would stoop so low as to do business with anyone wanting to borrow less than half a million dollars. (Ever wonder why the housing market tanked? What does that little fact tell you? It wasn't just overspending or bad credit risks; it was greed, plain and simple. In spite of all that, I found one willing to deal for one-third of a million dollars. Don't be too impressed. You should see my mortgage payment. But, I digress ...)
The point is, my audience has dropped in recent weeks, just a little. Part of this can be attributed to the summer, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. But there is a change in the wind, in readership trends, in blogging itself. According to The Neilsen Company, as of last February, there are over 156 million blogs in existence. In the so-called "Catholic blogosphere" alone, there are probably well over three thousand so-called "Catholic blogs" in the English-speaking world alone. They run the gamut. News blogs. Social/political blogs. Prolife blogs. Spiritual blogs. Ecclesiastical gossip blogs. Mommy blogs. Personal journals chronicling personal sojourns. People who have something to say. People who have to say something. So many blogs, so little time to read them. Even I don't read blogs as much as I used to.
So why read this one?
You tell me. The answer may be as varied as the numbers who read it. To be a Catholic is more than adherence to a set of beliefs or a system of do's and dont's. It is what the Greeks call a "phrenoma" -- a mind-set, a way of seeing the world, and one's purpose therein. The good nuns used to direct us to the answer in the old Baltimore Catechism:
“God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” (Volume 1, Number 6)
In the past year, we (and by "we" I refer to myself, my blog, and my capable staff of research assistants, posing as the voices in my head) have expanded into Facebook and Twitter, not only to promote this work, but to occasionally draw attention to other pieces, accompanied by a few words of comment. There are plenty of places to go if all you want is "church chat" and Photoshopped images of Pope Benedict riding a surfboard. We don't avoid talking of the Faith here at mwbh; we simply go beyond it.
This author hails from a family of hardy souls who, in the immortal words of Winston Churchill: “Never give up. Never.”
And so it goes, onward and upward, for another year. Stay tuned, dear reader, and (by all means) stay in touch.