Saturday, June 10, 2006

Several Lifetimes Ago, There Began a Blog....


Well, it seems Hugh Hewitt has a lot of friends, so I'd like to thank him for the hat tip and welcome anyone traipsing in here for the first time.

Hewitt was quite observant to link to the very first Whispers post, filed five days before Christmas 2004. It feels like several, several lifetimes ago, as so much has happened since then, both for good and ill.

Appropriately enough, the initial audience -- made up of the stunning turnout of three friends to whom I'd given the link -- got to see a post called "The Kid Stays in the Picture." With only a slight modification or two, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

For the benefit of everyone who's joined me since that rightfully inauspicious beginning, and with eternal thanks to all of you for being way better to me than I'll ever deserve, here's the text of that post:
I've been wanting to do this for awhile....

Welcome to one and all. I have a feeling that, at least at the outset, the readership of these pages will be that very esoteric group of religion writers and ecclesiastical groupies who track obscure appointments and read Vatican policy statements in their original Italian. But anyone with a curiosity about the workings of the Catholic church -- and whatever else may be on my mind as things progress -- is warmly welcome.

You've probably come here because you know me. But, for those who don't, a brief intro to shed some light on who I am and why (as the Philadelphia mindset would have it) I have the temerity to speak knowledgably and objectively about the church.

From a very young age, while my peers were at the sandbox and the arcades, I was absorbed in the esoterica of what Andrew Greeley has referred to as "The Catholic Imagination." Two millenia of ecclesial culture have woven this tapestry of ritual, history, politic and mystique which can't be found elsewhere, nor built overnight. As a kid in the apparatus, coming from a diocese which boasts a strong tradition of priesthood, it was seen as a given from the top on downward that I would follow in that path. Obviously I haven't (a blog of this nature would be grounds for a seminarian's beheading), but the education I received along the way -- both from inside the walls and in the greater world -- has formed in me a decidedly ecclesial conscience which is convinced of the particular salience of the Catholic perspective in the secular arena.

Others have used similar words with an eye to hijacking something: in the case of the Right, public discourse (see "penalties for politicians"); on the Left, the dominant (read: rightward) movment of the church's current center (see "foundational issues"). Both extremes -- conservatives just as guilty of "Cafeteria Catholicism" as progressives -- fly in the face of an immeasurably rich tradition and cause grave harm in advancing the assimilation of secular political worldviews into the life of the church and exploiting that life for electoral purposes -- a tragedy, indeed.

Having studied the Holy See and American politics at Penn, the last election put me right in the center of the storm. The campaign's over and graduation behind, but that doesn't mean the discussion -- and the relevance of what happens when prelates and politicos tango -- should drift. If anything, it's my hope that it will flourish, and that these humble contributions at the nexus of church and state will help that along.

I must close by stating my agenda: short of seeking and highlighting truth, justice and fruitful discourse (or the lack thereof), I come with no biases. I just watch what goes on and, like an arbiter hopefully worth his salt, call foul where necessary. And I ask my readers to hold me to that.

In return, I request that any disclosures revealed here which are used for pieces cite me as the source. I'm always available -- some would say too available -- to press as a resource; feel free to reach me by e.mail at

Simply put, it took me a long time to find the center. If I can be fair, and thus distribute the pain evenly, this will be a blog well done.
By that (or, for that matter, any sane) standard, it hasn't been a blog well done but, suffice it to say, I've done my best.