Monday, January 9, 2012

Bloggers who have helped me

So yesterday I was adding a quote from Richard Collins of Linen on the Hedgerow to my sidebar widget, “What They’re Saying about OTA”.  To be taken seriously by other writers who are (or should be) taken seriously — even if they write humor — is both a great honor and a great aid to getting the message out.

It’s also an invitation to let your head swell.  There’s a quote floating around in the back of my mind, which I paraphrase here:  All writers, no matter how humbly they present themselves, keep an outrageous vanity locked within their breasts. Fortunately, blogging with a combox open also presents many opportunities for other people to puncture your balloon, letting your ego deflate a bit. 

It also helps if, now and again, you step back and acknowledge the help you got.  One of the reasons why confession works is because it forces you to accept ownership of your sins in a way that merely flicking a mental prayer heavenward (“Sorry, God!”) doesn’t.  In the same way, publicly saying “Thank you” to people who have helped you is to own the fact that you didn’t “do it all by yourself” — the great heresy of the Church of the Autonomous Individual.

Now, not all of these writers have plugged OTA or linked one of my posts to theirs.  In a couple of cases, I’m not sure they know me from a hot rock.  That’s not the point: either they’ve boosted me with their support and encouragement, or they’ve been people I’ve learned from — in one or two instances, what I’ve learned from them is as close to an epiphany as I’m likely to experience.  In many cases, they’ve done both.

Also, since this isn’t an “awards post”, no particular ranking or level of importance should be attached to the order in which I list them.  Finally, I’m bound by my humanity to err by omission; if I don’t mention your name, it’s because I truly suck at expressing gratitude, for which I’m ever so sorry and chronically repentant.

  1. Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow): Richard was one of my first followers, and has linked to me quite a few times.  I enjoy reading his takes on what’s going on in Merrie Olde England, especially as we have quite similar senses of humor.  And he’s also introduced me to the Guild of St. Titus Brandsma, a collection of British and European writers worth following.
  2. Subvet (Blowing San #1): I can count on a trenchant comment from the ‘Vet at least twice a week, and often more.  Plus, he comes across news items that are sure to either make me chuckle or rage (or both) at the follies of the government.  He’s an “old salt” with a heart of gold — most retired NCOs have that quality — and I believe he rates a salute, officer or not.
  3. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (What Does the Prayer Really Say): Some traditionalists can really turn you off the tradition with their more-Catholic-than-thou snobbery and spite.  Not Father Z; while he prefers the TLM, he also has respect for the Novus Ordo, especially the new translation.  In fact, if you read his blog for no other reason, read it for his breakdowns of the propers of the Mass, which he pulls apart and puts back together with beautiful “mini-homilies”.  But you can go ahead and read his commentary as well … and buy some Mystic Monk coffee!
  4. Stacy Trasancos (Accepting Abundance and elsewhere):  This woman is much smarter than I am, and has demonstrated her courage under frightening verbal abuse and threats.  Stacy is the kind of blogger I want to be when I grow up.
  5. Msgr. Charles Pope (Archdiocese of Washington): Always worth reading.  In fact, Msgr. Pope penned one of the best posts I’ve ever read — “Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free”; reading it for the first time was one of those “thunderbolt” moments in my spiritual life.
  6. Tito Edwards (The The was the first digest to bring OTA and IC out of their remote little corners and into the bigger bubble of the Catholic blogosphere.  I hope in return that The grows to be as popular as New Advent without losing that willingness to find new writers and bring them into the circle.  I can’t thank Tito enough.
  7. The Bright Maidens (Trista, Elizabeth Hillgrove, Julie Robison): Three bright spots in my day.  More to the point, they’re not only what feminism should have produced but couldn’t, they’re precisely the young, on-fire, orthodox Catholics Bl. John Paul II was hoping to produce with the New Evangelization.  Reading them, and the young people who read them, gives me an insight into the next generation of Catholic Americans … and gives me hope.
  8. Lisa Graas (Catholic Bandita): Has not only widened my audience and acquaintances, but has given me a third soapbox from which to speak.  But moreover, she carries her crosses with grace and honesty that make me wonder whether I’ve ever truly taken mine up.
  9. Doctor Anthony Lilles (Beginning to Pray): Introduced me to the mystical side of Catholicism and really put the intellectual, rational side of it into context.  Alfred North Whitehead once said that truth without interest is irrelevant; Dr. Lilles showed me that religion without mysticism is like a car without an engine — irrelevant and impotent.
  10. Devin Rose (St. Joseph’s Vanguard): A great guy who introduced me to Brandon Vogt, gave me a copy of his first book (If Protestantism is True) to review, and has given me many suggestions about the book I want to write.  Moreover, he’s a great example of charity in apologetics.
  11. Frank Weathers (Why I Am Catholic):  Friend, retired Marine, finance whiz, finder of great Catholic classic books … what’s not to like about this guy?  Plus, he’s a snappy writer.  All around, the kind of man you can kick back and talk religion with over a cup of joe or a cold, frosty mug of beer.  Semper Fi!
  12. Katrina Fernandez (The Crescat): One day, it’s quirky, snarky humor, especially when she writes about The Boy or Craptastic Art.  The next, it’s a moving description of the beauty in the Catholic tradition or trying to find love as a single mother.  She’s really a great person, and I hope Nate Fillion falls in love with her.
  13. Matt and Pat Archbold (Creative Minority Report): They’re always good to read; besides, I got from them one of the best pieces of blogging advice: “When you’re finished with your post, don’t sit around admiring it or tweaking it.  Move on to the next post.”
  14. Father Dwight Longenecker (Standing On My Head): I love Todd Unctuous and Mantilla the Hon.  I also like The Gargoyle Code, Fr. Dwight’s “sequel”, if you will, to C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  But he’s also pretty darned profound when he writes in his own voice.
  15. Patrick Madrid (Patrick Madrid): He doesn’t update often enough, which is probably due to his intensive schedule.  But he does update.  Plus, I have three of his books, which I highly recommend: Pope Fiction, Search and Rescue, and The Godless Delusion (with Kenneth Hensley).  No, I don’t get paid for these plugs.

There is one other person I must thank, although he’s not a Catholic blogger … in fact, he’s a travel coordinator: my cousin Greg Reese, who’s been behind my writing from the very beginning, although I’m sure I’ve written things he disagrees with or even finds uncomfortable.  “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8).

Again, there are plenty of other people who deserve thanks, such as Elise Hilton, Fr. Tim Finigan, Dylan Parry, The Blogger Who Must Not Be Named, Brigit at St. Conleth (are you praying for a Holy Year for Nuns?), RAnn at This That and the Other Thing, my new friends Richard Evans and Steve Gershom, Kate at Australia Incognita, Randy at Speak the Truth in Love, LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy … the list just goes on and on! I keep this up, I’ll find myself thanking Pres. Obama and the OWS crowd!

This has been a marvelous year, and I’ve been blessed with a wonderful opportunity.  This next year already has some built-in interest, with the Olympic Games and the Presidential Follies, and of course, the ever ancient, ever new Church.  Thank you, Patient Reader, for putting up with my behavior!