For Minor Miracles (c)

Blogging can be a lonely business, especially when it gets personal. Anyone with wit and blind endurance can blog about marital relations in pre-Constantinian Rome or post funny cat pictures (h/t Joseph Bottum). But try posting every day and long into many nights not just about Catholicism but about why Catholicism makes sense for you, and you’re going to hit some squalls.

This post is the continuation of a series about how this blog began and developed. The series began here and continued here.

Chapter 4 — The Crisis of Faith
My YIMC partner, Frank, ran into some squalls this week, as friends of this space know. I privately said to myself, Let’s see how Frank weathers this one. Result? Never prouder to call him partner. Because I know what it feels like, and it’s hard. I ran into my first squalls in mid-October and early November, storm season here in New England.

Converting to Catholicism changes a man, and like Frank, I am a recent convert. It changes the way you look at every issue and everyone, even issues and ones close to you. But try blogging about ones close to you or about issues they have strong opinions about, and doing so from your new on-fire Catholic perspective. Try telling your newly discovered truth, even in veiled terms. Try it just once, and if it is not a whitewash job (I’ve written those), I promise you’ll live to regret it.

There is a third rail in blogging: writing about your loved ones in anything but Valentines. I touched that third rail several times during storm season, and I still feel the shock. Most of the “touches” were made with what I thought was care and subtlety. I still got electrocuted.

Like Frank, I may be crazy but I’m not stupid, and I’m not going to remind anyone of the details of my own personal storm season. If you want to dedicate a couple of hours to delving in YIMC archives, you will find some pretty good indications of what I’m talking about; however, you won’t find the posts I pulled.

I call this chapter “The Crisis of Faith” because, as I imagine Frank found this week, it’s surprising to be electrocuted. You thought you were doing right, you thought you were speaking the truth, you thought the words you wrote could do some good for someone somewhere and—CRACK!—the next moment you’re lying flat on your back, looking up at the tines of a pitchfork aimed straight at your face. You ask yourself, How could I be such a faithful Catholic, in word if not in deed, and be looking up at my own destruction?!

Sometimes “I’m sorry” is not a good enough answer.

Storms came and went in my blogging life through mid-November, when I went on retreat at a Trappist monastery. I wrote that the monks made me think of soldiers. I wrote that one of the monks gave me advice that helped the squalls subside. What I haven’t written yet is how a soldier—sorry, a Marine—came along shortly afterward and completely transformed this blog and my experience of it. Until now, I haven’t written—

Chapter 5 — The Crazy Marine from the Old South Who May Be An Angel or Something

I promise to do so soon.

For now, I’ll close with a short poem, which a certain former Marine shared with me recently:

God and the Soldier, all men adore,
In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.

Frank calls me Maverick sometimes, a reference to Tom Cruise’s character, a pilot or “front-seater” in “Top Gun.” Which, by the way, is way more honor than a former peacenik like me deserves. When I don’t refer to him as Sir Frank, I call him Merlin, the nickname of Maverick’s back-seater in the closing scenes of the movie.

Therefore, in closing, let me say: Well, done, Merlin! Fire at will!

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • Thanks for both the post and the site.Your 3rd rail analogy is a good one for me.I am a revert after a very long time away. And, the zap from realizing I failed at several opportunities to live the Christian and Catholic life I had so recently returned to and felt sooooo good (viz. self satisfied) was rather awful for me! Literally stunned for a few days. But, then the real miracle occured when I realized I could be forgiven and Jesus mercy was there from me if I was sorry and would avoid these occassions for sin.BTW, I wanted to say how much I enjoy the historical tone of this site. I want to share this quote from RE Lee."Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less." I do think it is important to keep to these as both Catholics and Catholic Men especially (IMO).:) After all, RE Lee did command US Marines briefly — albeit not under the best circumstances perhaps.

  • Yeah, every once in a while, we report to non-Marines like RE Lee (Harpers Ferry I believe). And we worked pretty well for John J. Pershing too, if my memory serves me right. Lemme see,Why in hell can't the Army do it if the Marines can. They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like Marines? Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, USA; 12 February 1918

  • Anonymous

    from Marine Mom:Here's my vote of confidence for your blog partner … We're all united in our battle against the evils that invade our home front! To quote Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

  • Although I am tired and this post seems vague, it seems as though you feel a bit beaten up about your opinion on something. To that, I would say, hang in there! Only you and God know what is best for you, whether you are a marine soldier or a marine animal! Your blog is great and I am sure your faith is great! I applaud your courage and I adore your writing! Don't let it get you down! Keep fighting the good fight, in the end, you will be victorious in heaven!

  • Mary P.

    Webster, sometimes the bravest thing you can do in life is put words on a page. Or a screen. But thank you for being brave enough to walk on this knife's edge! And please give Katie a great big hug on our behalf! We know that although her voice is absent, her support, in spite of her the reservations, is loud and clear. Please thank her for us! And Frank, the same goes for your family!

  • James

    Frank, your post was of a real life issue about a challenge facing all modern parents and you handled it as a Catholic dad just fine. I wasn't surprised at differing opinions but the judgmental tone of some was unexpected. Well done – I do have a bone to pick with you though. With all due respect to the Marine Corps, I take exception as a vet of the 4th Infantry Division to the characterization of the US Army as 2nd rate soldiers. Remind me again – who won the war in Europe?

  • James,Yeah, what the heck was "Black Jack" thinking?! And then after WWII the drum was beating "Taps" for the Marine Corps for crying out loud? …the Corps faced an immediate institutional crisis following the war due to the low budget. Army generals pushing for a strengthened and reorganized defense establishment also attempted to fold the Marine mission and assets into the Navy and Army. Drawing on hastily assembled Congressional support, the Marine Corps rebuffed such efforts to dismantle the Corps, resulting in statutory protection of the Marine Corps in the National Security Act of 1947. Shortly afterward, in 1952 the Douglas-Mansfield Bill afforded the Commandant an equal voice with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters relating to the Marines and established the structure of three active divisions and air wings that remain today.Marines, aggressive in the attack, tenacious in defense whether the fight is in the field or in the halls of Congress.James, thank you for your service and for your putting your life on the line for all of us (your neighbors)!

  • James

    I was proud to have been a grunt but was never in harm's way. I've respect for all branches of the service having family in each of them through the generations except the CG. God bless all our guys in uniform and our leadership (I refuse to talk politics here). Oh yeah, I'm glad the jheads are still around. We need them.

  • FRANK!!! You are a caring and devoted father. Many children do not even have a father in their lives. I applaud your courage and pray that you continue to write about the travails and wonderments of being a Catholic father. PS: Remember the old quote "Thou dost protesteth too much?" Bear that in mind when the blogging critics get you down. Pax Christi.

  • Anonymous

    oh Webster, keep on keeping on. Think of Shakespeare's sonnet"the star to every wandering bark, who looks at tempests and is not shaken" Keep your eyes on that star. And we'll keep reading you and Frank. God Bless! Regina

  • Bones: No worries. Besides, today's post is about Webster's crisis of faith. from back in November. Ain't that right Webster? ;^)

  • Maria

    I have not been able to make heads nor tails of this post. What is the heart of the matter?

  • Webster Bull

    Just resurfacing here after a few days away and otherwise engaged…. Thanks for all comments. It's nice to see that some of YIMC's most devoted friends, including Anne, Mary P, Doc, James, and P-82, have rallied around this post, if only to scratch their heads!!You see, what Frank and I have elected to do is to write about our faith experiences in our daily lives, not to posture about theology or politics, but instead to make it and keep it as real as possible. Problem is, you do that and your loved ones come into the viewfinder; they are part and parcel of your faith experience because they are your loved ones; but they don't necessarily want to be the subjects of your blog! So it's hard to keep it real, and respectful at the same time, and sometimes, readers are just going to have to experience what Maria did: not making heads or tails of it all.Don't worry. Keep faith in your YIMC pilot and back-seater. Tomorrow, I'll probably be back talking about saints or singing or something, Frank will B Frank, and there's always Music for Mondays! LOLNote to Frank: I think we need some more regular features like Tips for Tuesday, Whoppers for Wednesday, Thoughts for Thursday, Fright-wigs for Friday…

  • Sheeeeesh! After doing all that we would need Singapore Slings for Saturday ourselves. We'd keep the Sabbath Holy, and then it would be Mint Julip Monday, Tom Collins Tuesday, Whisky Sour Wednesday, Tequila Sunrise Thursday, Fuzzy Navel Friday. I don't think I could handle that Maverick! ;^)