Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Cough! Feedback. Um. Hi. I’m new here. Sort of. That is to say, I’m old here, having been a columnist for the Register for the past couple of years and contributing the “Connecting the Dots” column to the sum total of World Newspaper Literature. So we’ve met. And it’s a pleasure to know you, by the way.
However, because they think I’m so… so… (what’s the word?), um, you know, articulate, the editors have asked me join the ranks of a bunch of people you’d be much better off reading than me. I’m flattered, naturally, to be in such company since my fellow bloggers here will both make me look good in their reflected glory and (I hope and trust) blog a lot of stuff that will distract readers from asking things like “Why do they publish Shea’s junk?” with their dazzling flashes of brilliance that blind you to the quality of my leaden offerings. Not to mention the fact that, since I’ve been blogging for quite some time at my own site, my Irish verbosity is always happy to find broader pastures.
These first blog entries may appear to be done in the spirit of the liturgical innovator who believes the command to St. Peter was not “feed my sheep” but “try experiments on my rats”. My sole defense for this is that blogs are not liturgy but mere human things rightly subject to human experimentation and innovation. As such, I shall be fiddling about with both the content and sundry features of my blog to see what I can get away with before a mob with torches led by Tom Wehner barricades me in an old windmill and sets fire to it. When that happens, I will begin to suspect I need to dial things back.
Experimentation is one of the glories of the human race. We’ve done it ever since we tried sticking our hand in that bright shiny stuff with the smoke that was eating up a burning log. Indeed, experimentation appears to be what kicked off God’s revelation to Israel, when Moses felt compelled to go check out the burning bush and slake his God-given curiosity. It is, says Proverbs, the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search a matter out. So tinkerers, those who fiddle about with stuff, people who float stupid ideas just to see where they might lead, pipe dreamers, and what not have always had a place in our tradition, which is the greatest haven for eccentrics, oddballs, those with a bubble a little left of plumb, and unclubbables that the world has ever known. Fr. Stanley Jaki has remarked that science was stillborn in every civilization but Christian Europe. The reason for this, in part, was because Catholic Christendom has always had more room for peculiar people who march to the beat of a different drum.
You may wonder where I’m going with this. Me too. But at any rate, I’m happy to be here, experimenting with technology on the Register’s dime and experimenting with Tom Wehner’s patience too. I will make an effort not to bring shame on the Register or my family with my meandering ramblings as we stroll forth together into the Register’s further adventures in blogdom.