If you are reading this right now, there is a one in ten chance that you are genuinely interested in occasional enlightened commentary on issues of faith and culture, by someone who does not merely regurgitate what they read somewhere else. By extension, this assumes you have an attention span longer than the 140-character limit for creating messages on Twitter. This is not always the case, however, and we have the data to prove it.
The rest of you would probably rather read about the ongoing pissing contest between the so-called “NEO-CATHOLICS” with Mark Shea leading the troops, and the so-called “NEO-TRADS” (although I cannot imagine what is so "NEO-" about any of them, as opposed to "PALEO-") with Michael Voris holding the banner high (except for the brief interludes when The Remnant decides he is selling out, then all bets are off), voicing outrage at the lack of charity, if not the lack of clarity, just so someone can make some smart-@$$ comment on Facebook, and get everybody all stirred up again, and continue being indignant for the foreseeable future.
Here, on the other hand, this writer has managed to stay above the fray, and will continue to do so, as various aspects of this controversy are explored in the future.
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Maybe you want to read a dramatic conversion story. It seems that everybody has one these days, which makes you wonder how anybody became a Catholic before the internet. Surely the angels and saints in Heaven rejoice at the news of a lost sheep having been found, and that will not be disputed here. But one has to wonder whether it matters how famous the converted are because of it. Speaking of which, how about my conversion story?
Born on December 28, 1954, at about 7 in the morning, in Cleveland, Ohio. Baptized three weeks later at Christ the King Church in East Cleveland. Family moved to the Cincinnati area in the spring of 1956. Received first Holy Communion in October of 1962, in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, when we were asked to offer it up for world peace, and when everything was in Latin. Received the Sacrament of Confirmation, taking the name "Mark," in the spring of 1965, the first year that any part of the Roman Mass was in English (which is to say, very little).
End of story.
While there is some value to the witnessing of those still among us in "this valley of tears," if the lives of the saints are not enough to assist us in the pursuit of virtue, then all the wannabe celebrities in the world of Catholic new media, who at the end of the day are simply making money talking about themselves, will hardly turn the trick. The fact is, none of us really knows when we will be called home, and there is no guarantee that anyone outside the bosom of Mother Church will be assured of eternal salvation, even if they would have had their own totally-Catholic reality television show in an alternate timeline, if only God had given them a few more years to wise up. And although every worker in the Lord's vineyard receives the same promised wage at the end of the day, regardless of their hours of labor, what is described above may be the singular consolation of being a "cradle Catholic" without a tale to tell for fun and profit.
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The past twelve months have been devoted to reflection here at man with black hat. The promotion on Twitter has been less aggressive, and readership is down by just under half of what it was at this time two years ago. About once every month (well, most months anyway), something is published that gets a great deal of attention. But most of the time, we could post photographs of kittens and draw just as big a crowd. And then we have that pesky day job that takes up at least forty hours a week; forty-eight if you count commuting time. All that just because I have to earn a living. Oh, the humanity ...
What of the future?
In the next one to two years, this venue could evolve into something very different from what it is at present. All of the regular weekly features are currently under review, and some of them may simply be retired, no matter how much yours truly is personally amused by them. Except for certain holiday devotions (the 12 days of Christmas, the mother of all Novenas, etc), one possibility is to simply go to nothing more for most of the year than one or two significant articles in a week, plus a weekly posting of a video of artistic or cultural import, with illuminating commentary. There is also the prospect in 2014 or 2015 of a weekly videocast. It would cover many of the same subjects usually covered here, and the regular installments would be no more than three minutes in length.
We shall see what tomorrow brings. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.