Monday, August 06, 2007

My Amy Welborn Moment

Last week, mwbh commented on the flurry of chat room nonsense that ensued when the author of the weblog Open Book and reluctant "queen of Catholic blogdom," Amy Welborn -- hey, that's what some book called her, so don't come cryin' to me! -- decided to take a vacation with her family, without giving her legion of devoted fans sufficient warning. In our last episode, Mark Shea was actually getting e-mails from people wanting to know where Amy was. Oh, yeah, like he and Amy and Gerald and Jimmy have this private penthouse in Manhattan where they smoke cigars (the guys, anyway) and drink cordials and conspire over the eventual iron-fisted rule of their corner of cyberspace. Geeeezzz...

Now, in case anyone thinks I'm picking on Amy, you can relax, because you would be wrong. I leave that job to the experts at The New Oxford Review. It's the rest of you I'm worried about.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the plot thickened:

"This blog is a departure from what I’ve done before. It is not going to be a newshound, updated many-time daily place. I’ve done that, and I really enjoy it, but I’ve reached a point at which I must pull back and direct all that energy someplace else - my attempts at fiction-writing to be exact. Radical surgery was necessary."

Not to mention a need for the Catholic blogosphere to evolve.

There was a subplot to all this, of course. Father Martin Fox, an Ohio priest and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, was lamenting, if somewhat lightheartedly, the slow response to his site of late. Part of that is because of the summer, but BOTV is not a site to be overlooked. A number of priests have their own blogs, many devoted to publishing their Sunday homilies (in case you fell asleep listening to it, or were out playing golf) and offering spiritual reflection. Father Fox takes it one step farther, as regular visitors find out just what a guy in his position does the other six days of the week. No one can accuse this guy of not working for a living, or of not having been around the block a few times. Before entering the seminary, Fox was a lobbyist here in Washington. The sum total of experience also gives him some hard-hitting insights into politics and world events.

Okay, back to our heroine. She starts out by saying, "I really don’t want to make a big deal of this, but..." It's not a big deal for you, hon, just for the people who can count their daily blogroll on one hand. There are hundreds, thousands of them out there, who can't get past the short list mentioned in every article in Our Sunday Visitor and Ligourian and Saint Anthony Messenger, on the exciting new world of "Catholic blogging." Yeah, it's exciting alright. Like that line out of Casablanca: "Round up the usual suspects." Now the combox crowd has to find someone else to put on a pedestal. See what you've done???

Seriously, people, it's time to raise your horizons, just a notch.

The most popular list devoted to "Saint Blog's Parish" is the Catholic Blog Directory, listing over a thousand blogs, which probably isn't all of them in the English-speaking world. They're in alphabetical order, with a separate listing for (who else?) clerics and religious. Sometimes I just like to pick one at random during the lunch break. You never know...

There are those authors who use their blogs to pile on the news links for all things Catholic, all the time. Among them are those who do it well. Patrick Archibold gets a Thrown-In-The-Air-In-Jubilation Black Hat this summer, for revving up the Creative Minority Report. It is described as "an outlet for sometimes ill considered but occasionally pithy commentary by my cohorts and me. We intend to comment on Church related issues as it relates to its transformation, now begun, into a lean and mean evangelization machine. Also within our purview will be politics, current events, and hopefully some occasional humor as well." Those cohorts include Matthew Archibold -- I'm guessing they're related somehow -- and some guy named "D-Mac," probably the comic-relief guy. After all, no group blog is complete without one. Each day a two-column summary tops the page, with linked stories underneath. Simple yet elegant, very user-friendly, with good, solid, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek-irreverent writing, CMR represents the cutting edge of the Catholic news blog. Not to be outdone, Pat also authors Summorum Pontificum, dedicated specifically to the implementation of the papal motu proprio decree of the same name. (We've talked about that, remember?)

And so, at the end of the day (which it is around here, as luck would have it), this week's Tip of the Black Hat is in order to our beloved Amy, who has let us into her world, and into what's on her mind, for the last six years. The prospect of writing fiction is an exciting one, worth checking the shelves periodically at a Catholic bookstore near you. There is no question that her good work will continue, if only in a different way. The question remains, however, as to what the thousands of Amy-watchers are going to do now.

Probably take a vacation.

1 comment:

Patrick Archbold said...

"CMR represents the cutting edge of the Catholic news blog."

Wow, I never knew how perceptive you are! ;-)

Thanks for the kind words!