If you want to understand the thing I’m about to announce, consider reading Simcha Fisher’s excellent essay “The Church you’re building”:
First, let me be clear. There are people who feel this way, who have truly done their best to seek out the good, true, and beautiful in the institution founded by Christ, but it seems that every Catholic they encounter is on a mission to show them the bad, false, and ugly. I know people who are trying tremendously hard to refocus their hearts and minds on what is essential and eternal about the faith, but they are met, again and again, with Catholics who wound them profoundly. And I will not tell them that they should just work harder to get past it.
I know people who have tried to get away from what is hurting them in the church, and they have found that they can’t, because they’ve already been wounded so deeply. They carry their wounds with them, and when they walk, they bleed. I’m not going to tell people in this state what they ought to do, or where they ought to go.
But that’s only some people. There are others, who, when they say, “I’m so tired of the Church,” are in a different place entirely. I know, because sometimes this is me . . .
. . . Very often, when I say I’m tired of the Church, what I really mean is that I’m tired of the weird, ugly little quasi-church I’ve half-consciously built around myself out of sheer cynicism and snark and self righteousness. It’s a very flimsy, ugly, broke-down church indeed. No wonder I don’t like it there.
What I’ve been grappling with over the past several years are the different worlds of spiritual needs out here on the Catholic internet.
Me? I love debates. I love wrestling with the truth. When I look out at the problems in the world — hunger, loneliness, war, disease — I want to figure out ways to solve those problems. Debates ordered towards truth-finding are a means of discerning the best ways to mitigate human suffering.
But those debates can also be a treacherous, faith-destroying distraction.
I came up with The How-to Book of Evangelization because, in discussing possible book projects with an acquisitions editor at OSV, it became evident that I was passionately interested in that topic. It was the topic of the first essay I wrote here, before I even had my own Patheos blog.
I knew there was a need for the book because I had heard many faithful Catholics say so. They’d show up at Sherry Weddell’s evangelization and discipleship forum and ask: “Okay, I am ready to evangelize! But, um, what do we do? How does this work?”
So I wrote the book. I also had to re-write at least one chapter in its entirety because my fantastic editor for the project cleared her throat and communicated with the correct combination of clarity and impatience: This is a great blog post, but it is utterly inappropriate for the book.
(That’s my paraphrase. I’m not going to dig up the annotated manuscript and give you the exact words. It will hurt us.)
To be honest, the book is so darn civilized I can sometimes forget that I wrote it. Turns out you can be emphatic and charitable. Who knew! Here at Patheos I’m just proud if I start with a cussword and then change it to “excrement” and then reluctantly allow that the metaphor, no matter how politely worded, will not actually change hearts and minds and I’m going to have to rewrite completely.
So that’s a bit of a conflict.
If you’re a longtime reader here, it’s because you are comfortable-enough with strong and clashing opinions. You’ve seen me discuss controversial things, seen me be wrong some of the time, and you know that’s all just part of the discourse. But not everyone is comfortable there. A lot of people who care about sharing Jesus don’t want to camp out on the war-of-words battlefield.
So, here’s the new thing:
One Soul at a Time is a substack devoted 100% to Catholic evangelization and discipleship. No liturgy wars. No pope complaints. No links to exposés at The Pillar. No COVID-policy debates. None of that.
I know, you can barely breathe thinking about it. Is there even enough air in the world if we don’t have that?
Relax. I will still be passionately wrong-headed here at Patheos, for all your doomscrolling needs. Seriously? You thought I could just quit opining like that? As if. Heck, in paring down my social media presence post-illness, I’ve chosen Twitter of all places to be where I run my mouth short-form.
But if you’re over at One Soul at a Time you don’t have to know any of that.
I’ve intentionally created the substack in a way that lets you not be sucked into social media if you don’t want to be. You can subscribe for free and receive all content straight to your e-mail inbox, which even makes it safe for Lenten social-media fasts — and the content itself will be Lent-friendly.
So that’s the plan. I’ll still hit controversial E&D, catechetical, and spiritual topics here, but follow both Patheos and One Soul at a Time if you want everything I have to say, even the nice stuff.
PS: Even though I’m really even-tempered and charitable (for me) over at the new place, I’m still hitting the hard topics in the spiritual life. Just doing it from a place of more prayer and less redacted-bits.