Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From the Back Office

With an inaugural now in the books, a March still to come -- and "Appointment Mondays" now well in effect -- just a couple quick pagekeeping notes:

First, after a Christmas hiatus, the "Word of the Week" will return for this Sunday's Conversion of St Paul -- provided, that is, our preachers make its return possible. Open call for homilies is in effect, and all thanks in advance for your submissions.

Second, for those of you still holding on for the "Churchman," you will see it shortly -- promise. But please, just be patient. Suffice it to say, pulling together the threads hasn't been the easiest thing, but the result will hopefully be worth the kinks in getting it good to go.

Third, thanks as always to everyone for the "Is everything OK? Are you alive?" notes sent during the later stages of last week's breather; per custom, these tend to drop in whenever the page goes silent for more than 36 hours.

It's a gift to be sought out and missed -- but, yes, everything's OK... and, well, it seems I'm still alive... and more than just sometimes, that alone feels like the greatest miracle of all. It's great to be back, but sometimes -- especially given the intensity of the pace 'round these parts -- a bit more rest and listening than usual tends to help immensely in the long run.

See, gang, 2008 was a break-neck year on this beat, and while it was a joy and gift to watch it all unfold, it honestly did a number on me. Not that this year will be a quiet one -- just wait -- but, at the same time, it won't be its predecessor, and brilliantly exciting as it might've been, thank God -- I don't think I could handle another '08, and I'm honestly looking forward to a bit more time to breathe in this New Year....

Not too much time, of course, but just a bit.

And, lastly, much as we all love the reminder, it bears repeating that these pages keep plugging along solely by means of your support.

The rest of the world might find itself in an economic crisis these days... suffice it to say, though, the Back Office here has been in one for some four years now.

At the same time, the usual state of things has taken on an added dimension of late. I still have to change the masthead, but after four happy years in the post, back in November I stood down as US correspondent for The Tablet. The reason: put simply, the commitment of time and energy producing these pages demands had become too great to maintain any other standing commitment and give it what it deserves.

I'll forever be grateful to the folks in London for all their confidence and goodness over the years -- and especially for the ability to make a bit extra to keep the bills paid which, in turn, did its part to help keep this outlet afloat. With that cushion now gone, though, two things now rise to the top: for starters, for the first time since the very beginning here, my energy and copy belong exclusively to these pages... yet as a result, I need to rely that much more heavily on this readership -- namely, you -- to keep the lights on, the bills paid... and, most of all, the phone from getting turned off.

Over these four years, in seemingly every way under the sun, so many folks have never ceased to go over and above with their expressions of support -- more than anything else, they're the reason you're able to come here and find something new in the top slot day in and day out. As much as I'm eternally indebted to them for outdoing themselves with their gifts of generosity, encouragement, example and good faith, all I can say in general is that just as you've come to trust me to do my part and expect me to deliver as the news dictates, the road ahead doesn't depend so much on my commitment or desire to keep it going it as does on your aid to that end.

Unfortunately, I can't make any cuts to the budget as just covering the necessities takes up all I've got. Worse still, I'm unable to fire anybody 'round here as I've never really been able to hire myself. All I know is that I love what I do, it never ceases to be a joy, a gift -- and, most of all, a surprise -- and by the looks of it, more folks than I ever would've imagined get something out of the daily feed here. Bottom line: as there don't seem to be any other non-ideological outlets out there that cover the ad intra baseball to an exhaustive degree whilst retaining their editorial independence, in a nutshell -- even for all this work's many imperfections and all its narrator's vast limitations -- what we've got here seems to be as good as it gets... and for all the places, known and unknown, where I've fallen short, I ask your forgiveness today, tomorrow and ever beyond.

All that said, to help keep it all going, the traditional "guitar case" is, as ever, ready and open down the right sidebar... and for the more snail-mail inclined, donations can be sent to PO Box 63890, Philadelphia PA 19147-7890; for the latter, keep in mind that there's no such thing as "Whispers, Inc." Either way, all thanks in advance -- every bit helps more than words could say.

It may be early afternoon, but something in the time feels more like 6 in the morning (i.e. Roman Noon)... and for a change, your narrator's the one waiting on the news of the day.

Suffice it to say, it's some feeling -- not one I'm used to, but not necessarily a bad one, either. If anything, it's just another reminder of how none of us can ever really do anything on our own, and, regardless of our strengths and abilities, how foolish it'd be to even try.

In a nutshell, that's the reason this church exists, that's the truth to which I owe my life and this work.

To all of you who make each of these possible, God love you, thanks always and, please, more than all else, pray for me.