Thursday, March 13, 2014

Attention New People: this is not your regular kind of blog...

I know we've picked up a bunch of carpetbaggers in the last few days. I spose that's OK, but New People, be aware that this is not your regular kind of blog. It's more like a little club. I have many times described it as a kind of salon, where polite people can talk about things over tea and cake. I have had pretty much the same five hundred readers a day for most of the ten years we've been doing this, and I look upon newcomers with grave suspicion.

Disagreement is welcome, and almost required to keep me from getting bored, but the slightest hint of rudeness brings out the vengeful pagan deity in me. This blog is my universe; I am not your warm, fuzzy New Testament kind of God, and I've got my finger poised over the Smite button, and am not afraid to use it. For those who have been drawn here expecting Catholic polemical fireworks, be warned that you will be expected to be able to talk about, music, art, gardening, Canadiana and the state of the weather with equal facility. Anyone being rude to me or the other guests or picking fights will be shown the awesome power of my wrath in short order. A disciplined congregation is a happy congregation.

Commbox rules are posted on the sidebar to your left. You will note that snark, anonymous posts or obvious pseudonyms are among the high crimes which will merit my swift and awful justice. Those New People I don't know caught flouting the rules will be smoted instantly without warning or apology. Are we clear?


I've been thinking in the last little while, as regulars will know, about the value of all this. I am made more and more acutely aware every day that the internet, the new Great Conversation, is, quite honestly, a realm of deception and distraction, as well as perhaps grave temtpation.

Are we not obliged to take pains to "avoid near occasions for sin"? Well, this week, I've been thinking about it more. I watched an interesting thing from the BBC last night, about a rather naive Church of England minister who went to live for a few weeks in a monk's cave in the Egyptian desert. It was full of hints and little naggings for me.

I just sent [more or less] this note to a friend who is a magazine publisher who is pestering me to write Catholic things for him:

Well, thanks to a couple of links the other day, one to the Remnant and the other to PewSitter, my Phil Lawler piece got picked up by gazillions and we had our first (nearly) 3000 pageview day at O's P. It's only one in the afternoon over there today and I'm already up to 1600.

And it's definitely making the temptations whisper in my ears again: "You could totally do this for a living. Zillions... at least thousands, of people would read you, everyone would think you're cool and smart. And they'd throw money at you..."

"And you'd be doing the world a favour! The Church neeeeds your voice, it neeeeeds your blunt honesty and clear thinking... everyone says it... you'd be doing the work of God..."

Approval, affirmation, fame... they've always been my biggest worldly desire and temptation. But I know exactly what this is. My parents got rid of me, like yesterday's embarrassing trash when I was fifteen and I spent the next 30 years fending for myself, convinced that I was the only person in the world whom I could count on and that if I didn't make it in the world, no one would help me or catch me if I crashed.

"You're on your own kid, and you'd better find a way to make people like you. All you've got going for you is your brain and your words, so baby, you better get smart, witty and clever in a hurry, or you're dead in a ditch." Buzz buzz buzz...

"You could be one of them famous polemicists...Become the Trad edition of Jimmy Akin...He makes barrels of money...You know you could, and you really want to..."

But in truth, I know exactly what that voice really is playing on. It's a combination of my neuroses, the result of fashionable 1970s parental neglect. It's telling me it's OK to looking to the world for the love I didn't get when and where I was supposed to. Which means it's really an indulgence in Fantasy, a chasing after something that isn't Real. And I'd rather be done with that.

I'm starting to think that what I've really been doing is steadily and single-mindedly pursuing my own fame and popularity since I started writing full time ten years ago (almost to the day, now I think of it). And for me it's the road to perdition.

Frankly, I'm lazy as hell, and if I were to actually put some effort in, I know I have the capacity to become one of those one-man industries, to that old crass self-promotion thing that you have to do to become a Media Personality, a "professional Catholic". I know I've got the necessary superpowers. It's in there. But I also think I'd be turning myself into the monster I've been trying to avoid becoming all this time.

Things are getting past the point where we have the leisure to pursue such things. That stuff is for peace time. In war, we have to stop playing games.

Oh great. A link from Kathy. Now I have to get the sails down.

Oh well, I'm going back to Norcia next week for a while, so things are going to be shut down here for a while anyway.



Liam Ronan said...

"Carpetbaggers"? Forgive me, Miss Scarlet, but as a Yankee (now living in Ireland) that there is a pejorative where I hail from.
Even so, I roared with laughter when I read it. Your sentiments about new readers getting on board puts me in mind of scenes from Dr. Zhivago where those fleeing Moscow chucked would-be refugees off the train.
I confess I first read your blog after it was referenced by The Remnant and found your writing to be inspiring, lucid, and informative.
I shouldn't fret about "avoiding the near occasions of sin". After all Jesus ate with, and actively sought-out, tax collectors and sinners...maybe even the occasional carpetbagger. It is an occasion, I think, for developing a greater prayer life and sense of humility.
You wisely offer: "Things are getting past the point where we have the leisure to pursue such things. That stuff is for peace time. In war, we have to stop playing games."
Not to overwork the Zhivago analogy, but Yuri Andreivich was trained as a doctor. The war and the displacement that arose from it allowed him to write his best poetry.
I shall try to behave myself at all times and occasionally mumble the few words I know of Canadiana like Wayne Gretzky and Molson.
Keep at it.
Hereafter, every time you try to get out they'll pull you back in.

Jeff Culbreath said...

I would love to see more of you in the Catholic print media. But then you wouldn't be quite the same Hilary White we all know and love.

I used to be asked to write for money. Trouble is, I am constitutionally incapable of writing anything for anyone "on demand". Generally - perhaps not always? - a paid writer loses a bit of himself in the process.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Oh deadlines don't really worry me now. I guess I've learned a small amount of discipline after ten years of two deadlines a day.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Liam: Jesus was the sinless and perfect Son of God. I am not.

Liam Ronan said...

True, Hilary, but He sent His disciples out into the world to preach the Good News and, as we know, the world is chock-a-block with sinners.

Mark S. Abeln said...

Self-promotion, to me, is rather distasteful, even though I have to do it sometimes, like when I have a new book out.

It seems rather less distasteful when it is about a secular subject — after all, everyone expects that a plumber will advertise. And even then lots of Catholic insight can be thrown in, enriching a potentially dull subject.

Regarding Canada, as a child I loved maps of all kinds, both globes and atlases, and I enjoyed especially the rugged complexity of the Canadian coastline.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Courageous words, Hilary.

Steve said...

I'm just trying to figure out a way to break all your rules in one comment, but I'm way too tired and lazy to do this even for my own amusement. Sad.

Anyway, you can't go away. You're a historical internet landmark.

Liam Ronan said...

My suspicion of what it must feel like to be a full-time blogger always evokes the lyrics of the Billy Joel song 'Piano Man'.
"Sing us a song your the blogger, Ma'am!".

Anonymous said...

Hurrah for,you. Don't apologize. I remember when we were both in the League of Evil Traditionalists webring about 10 years ago. I gave it up to make money so my family could be comfortable, and and try to do something concrete outside of know build a trad college or something. Anyhooooo, That didn't work for out. All the while you've been living in Italy and eating lotsa great meals and using your "delete" key to deal with nutty trads and wretched neocatholics. Real world projects...I was not so so lucky. No delete key in a College.. Enjoy where you got the better part!

nic j said...

Oh, Hilary, you’re going to make me stop feeling sorry for myself and start feeling sorry for you again. Half, or perhaps more, of all modern business and other activity probably is an occasion for sin. I suspect it always was and probably always will be. That's what indulgences are for. (I am only being partly flippant here). I used to take this so seriously there were jobs and careers I refused to do. You know how that turned out, and it wasn't well, for those that don't. Inactivty as an attempt to avoid sin is also a sin.

"…think I'd be turning myself into the monster I've been trying to avoid becoming all this time."

No. Totally disagree. I don't believe you could.
But if you won’t listen to me how about someone else?

This Liam Ronan seems very sensible. As he says, your gifts are needed. That's why they're called gifts. Recall their Origin…

How about an alternative temptation - to disappear into Gnostico-Dualistic Puritanism. [Did I just invent that?]
Could be a form of neo-catharism…

I personally don't think you need worry about your soul until you're pulling down blair-type money. By blair-type methods. (Yuck. A bas, le blairisme et aussi le blair. Blurgh!).
And if you ever did, don't worry, because I'll paddle all the way over there and shoot you myself. Er, will you have a gun ready that I could borrow? [I don't think you can really count this as your second death threat, btw.]