Monday, February 12, 2007

From the Author's "Desk"

I keep getting asked why there's no advertising here on the page, and why I won't take it. While these kind queries mean much, what they fail to realize is that there actually is advertising on Whispers -- and that said shingle-hanging, rare though it is, is still a little much for my tastes.

Remember well that I didn't major in business.

The lone advert in question is, of course, the thrice-yearly (or thereabout) fund pitch. The state of this shoestring operation is such that I'd be wise (read: less in debt) if I undertook it more often. Then again, I usually feel that I'm: 1. not sufficiently pulling my weight to merit the support and 2. still having too good a time to really believe that this actually is work.

But work it is, and all the prayers in the world can't keep the bills paid and the shop -- however bare-bones it may be -- running. It's cliché, but true: stem to stern, these pages are brought to you by you, and as the readership numbers never seem to cease heading upward, it appears that there's a sound enough product here to keep it going as best I can, for as long as I can. Some of my contemporaries head into the Peace Corps, others have taken a couple years to Teach for America, and hopefully it could be said that this work is drawn from a similar vein; it all falls under the umbrella of giving back, having fun, and taking one for the team.

I haven't disclosed this publicly before now, but I've gotten (and, as you can see, turned down) some feelers about publishing the stuff you see here elsewhere (and, as you can see, shirked a more solvent payday in the process). As my commitments to The Tablet and BustedHalo already make for enough deadline pressure, and distaste for "selling out" aside, my aversion to this has been twofold: by keeping everything here, said content is spared an editorial scrutiny that, however well-meaning, would axe much of the background and context that's so crucial to the intra muros beat and (2.) "the goods" simply belong on Whispers, which, contrary to every sane expectation when these pages began with a readership of three and I spent my working hours in the spiritual hell of med-com spreadsheets, seems to have become a brand name in its own stead.

When the terms are good and the time right, I'll make the jump. In the meantime, we're gonna keep doing our thing, our way, right here. For what you've given and have come to expect, I owe you nothing less.

In light of the growth of things, and the being-ceaselessly-pulled-in-25-directions state of being that's come with it (it's not as glamourous as it might look), I've been trying to take the writing and reporting up a notch, even if it means three original, solid postings in a day instead of 10 not-so-solid-nor-original ones, and some things in a longer focus. The converging forces of it all have made for more of an adjustment than I'd like to admit. And amidst keeping on as the calendar fills up, I'm keen to get things into a better order than the precarious chaos of back-bills that my aversion to fund-raising has allowed to let languish.

And that's where you guys come in. Along the right sidebar is the famous "guitar case" -- the donation button that's kept these pages running for over two years and way past two million visitors served, so for those who wish to keep it comin' the new-fangled way, grazie mille e píu. The more check-inclined can send love to PO Box 63890, Philadelphia PA 19147-7890. Feel free to send cards and letters, to boot. (No mailbombs, please, and a world of thanks for lending a hand.)

For what little I'm able to get done, more than a bit falls by the wayside. So to everyone who's given or e.mailed and not gotten a reply, I can't apologize enough. Such is the work-pile that being drawn away from it is no easy feat, and trying to tackle it all invariably means that I end up running 20 minutes late for everything in the name of tying up loose ends before heading off. They say that God looks on the effort more than the achievement. And, even for all my lapses, thanks to all of you for, by and large, doing the same. Though I'm far from able to get back to each one as I'd wish, the notes and feedback are the best sounding board I could ask for, so please, please, keep it comin'.

You've still yet to hear about the recent Northern exposure in-depth, as I'm still working on a suitable finished product. Thanks to the good souls who kept these pages in mind at Christmastime, I was graced to be in the house as Whispers' first bishop-donor was installed as archbishop of Toronto. And for all the interviews and face-time of Thomas Collins' whirlwind first week, it wasn't the Star, the Post or CBC that had the most extensive view of B16's most-significant appointee on the American continent to date, but the little blog from the place where they still call the bishop "Pharaoh."

Due to TC's new gig and my long-standing ethical guidelines -- in a nutshell, no donations accepted from anyone I've got a better-than-even shot of having to cover, period -- I'm down a benefactor, but in exchange got to witness an incredible story from a vantage that, for this medium, stands as a new high-watermark of access, prominence and cooperation.

For a church whose journey is marked in centuries, the blogosphere's presence in the Catholic world remains a reality even newer than the morning posts you see below. Its advent has elicited panic, concern and attempts at stonewalling, all of which I've seen and experienced, sometimes painfully. But just as this medium has served in some parts as an outlet for corrosive forces and irresponsible expressions, its potential for good -- the good of the church, the goal of communion, and our story as it deserves to be told -- remains greater still, but only if that potential is permitted and encouraged to flourish.

I was in over my head with all this a long time ago. But even given that, to cover the beat I love is a lifetime's dream. To do it on these pages is sweeter yet. And to have been able to do it literally by happenstance, with the support and encouragement of all of you, never ceases to be a blessing and grace, one I pray I might someday deserve.

God love you all forever and thanks... two million times over, and then some.