Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Minor Miracles III (b)

Blogging about why I’m blogging is a bit like watching myself watch myself in the mirror. I did a lot of that when I was a kid, but I’m not sure why I’m doing it in advanced middle age. Still, here I am, continuing a tale begun Monday about how this blog began in August, received surprise validation ten days later from Fr. James Martin, and continued to shape-shift.

Chapter 3 — The Ego Trip
The e-mail from Father Jim had arrived on August 27. Exactly two weeks later, or 24 days since writing my first post, I heard from one of the major forces in Catholic blogging, Elizabeth (“The Anchoress”) Scalia. Even now, I feel like I must be breaking one of the Commandments, writing about Elizabeth as though I knew her personally. I’ve never met another Catholic blogger in my life, not even Frank, face to face.

The subject line of Elizabeth’s e-mail of 9/10/09 read: “Your blog is astonishing.” The first line of the message gave another pump to the swollen balloon that was already now my head: “Expect to find yourself winning all sorts of those meaningless-but-fun Catholic blogging awards next year.” (BTW, the awards committee has not yet phoned from Stockholm, or wherever they meet.)

Throughout September, I continued to post about the influences that had brought me to convert to Catholicism at age 56. On October 5, I summarized these in a post based on one of my favorite psalms. I called it For His Love Endures Forever (Psalm 136b). This is also perhaps my favorite post, and if I was ever going to maintain my virginal purity as a blogger, I should probably have made it my last post. It accomplished pretty much everything I had set out to do, summarizing all of the wonderful people, books, and experiences that had brought me to Rome.

But by this time, two things had happened, at least two. I had subscribed to SiteMeter, a service that shows a blogger how many hits he’s getting and where they’re coming from. Like a Wii video game, this gives you an imaginary feeling of control, as though with body English alone you could increase the number of Visits or Page Views a day. There’s nothing to give one a Napoleon complex quite like looking at a world map of your last 100 hits and seeing that two were from Malaysia. When I told Father Barnes that I had had a hit from Italy, he warned me that the Vatican was watching me now.

The other thing happened immediately after my Psalm 136b post. I heard from another major force in Catholic blogging, Greg (“The Deacon’s Bench”) Kandra. Later the same day, he posted this at “The Deacon’s Bench”:

One of the pleasures of the blogosphere is discovering new and refreshing voices. Many are gifted. A few are brilliant.

And then there are those who defy any description. Every now and then, you encounter someone who just makes you sit up, swallow hard, and go “Wow.”

Webster Bull is one of those someones.

His still-new blog, “Why I Am Catholic,” is one of the most uplifting, joyful, inspiring, soul-stirring places in the blogosphere. Every day, he looks at why he loves the Church, and why he converted, and then he counts the ways. It's so deceptively simple. But every day I read it, I feel like I'm opening a jewelry box; the place is full of gems. No other blog gets to me quite the way his does. (And I'm not alone in thinking that: I got an e-mail the other day from a veteran blogger, asking, "Don't you just love 'Why I Am Catholic'?" Yes. I do.)

Check out Webster Bull's latest post, "For His Love Endures Forever." This can only come from a heart full of wonder and gratitude and generosity and love. Love for his faith. Love for his God. Love for spreading the Good News. 

Pardon me, dear reader, but I’m going to stop writing for the night. I’m feeling unwell. And in fact, it was about this time, in early October, when I arrived at—

Chapter 4 — The Crisis of Faith
To be continued . . .