One of the criticisms I've gotten about Rambling Spirit is that it will inevitably have a slant or spin to it, like so many publications do. But I say that doesn't have to be the case. I truly believe a publication can wholeheartedly, objectively and impartially represent any point of view it chooses, and offer comprehensive articles on any topic that gives due representation of whatever people, communities or opinions it represents in its articles. Such is true journalism, which needs a strong foundation to survive. Our foundation is Catholicism in its full form. If we sway from that foundation, it certainly is possible for us to become slanted and spun.
The ideology I'd like to present through Rambling Spirit is that Catholicism is not just another religion. Nor is it just another way of seeing things or just another way of life. Catholicism is more rightly defined as a civilization, so a Catholic magazine ought to cover all dimensions of civilization. If we call Rambling Spirit a Catholic magazine it will most likely be pigeonholed into the subcultural category of Catholic publications, and only be attractive to Catholics who are interested in reading said magazines. Also, if we stick to just those topics exclusively connected to Catholicism, like the papacy, the Virgin Mary, Catholic saints, etc., we'd be leaving out so much.
The audience we're looking to attract is much more authentic than just Catholics interested in learning more about the dogma and current affairs of the Church. Rambling Spirit Magazine has a Catholic worldview and is passionately Catholic. It takes a Catholic approach to a variety of subjects, but it doesn't explicitly express its faith on every page. Our faith is the subtext. The Church is our often-unseen inspiration and foundation. We intend to win our readers over through love, and when people become curious about our influence, that's when we point to our Catholic faith.
Some of the greatest works of art, literature and scientific discoveries in the world have a Catholic worldview, and allowed that worldview to influence their approach to their particular fields of study. Their faith was implicit, not explicit. Writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O' Conner, G.K Chesterton and T.S. Elliot offered a genuine response to modernism with their Catholic undertones, which were disguised in their works so as to attract a larger audience. They promoted Catholic ideas without directly presenting them.
Astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo, scientists like Gregor Mendel (founder of genetics) and Monseigneur Georges Lemaitre (who came up with the Big Bang Theory) were faithful Catholic revolutionaries who questioned the way we see our world while maintaining their faith. Many Italian Renaissance artists can be added to the list too, not to mention Dante-- whose Divine Comedy influenced Catholic culture and theology. Even Shakespeare has been known to integrate Catholic themes into his work (think of Hamlet’s father visiting him from Purgatory). There's nothing exclusively Catholic about any of these people's contributions to Western Civilization, but their faith was still an integral part of their genuine contribution to our culture.
There's a misconceived notion that to follow the Church's teachings, one must inevitably lead a boring and prudish life. It's not common in our society to see faithful Catholics as the freest and most enlightened individuals among us.
Maybe this could be a testimony to the Catholic universities out there that think they have to completely abandon all of their founding beliefs in order to accommodate more people. The most Catholic principle of all is to accept everyone, and a Catholic does not have to abandon his beliefs to do so.
Rambling Spirit will show that Catholics are immensely diverse in their customs, their worldviews, ways of life, philosophies, you name it. It's impossible to find a better focus group than just a group of Catholics. Despite the fact that they're called to live out their baptismal vows, and live out the tenets of the faith, they don't; and that's what makes them Catholic human beings. That is what makes them just like everyone else. There's nothing extraordinary about them. The only thing that can define who a Catholic is is the word catholic, meaning universal. They have tried out every philosophy, they've experimented with extremes to the right and left. They have strongholds in every country. And the most beautiful part about it is after all of their journeys far and wide, so many of them reach the same conclusions and see that their Mother Church was right all along.
That is why if Rambling Spirit is truly to be a Catholic magazine, it needs to accommodate everything and everyone. It cannot represent just some neatly packaged religious system centered in Vatican City, and in dioceses around the globe, because that's just the institutional Catholic Church. There's so much more to the Church than that. Our magazine can't just represent the beliefs and teachings of Catholicism in some apologetic format, because the Church is much more than that as well.
To include only those topics that are exclusively Catholic would be the least Catholic thing we can do. Our interests vary more than the stars. They're so diverse that no name can encompass them all. Perhaps once people notice how authentic, universal, eclectic, eccentric, familiar, and timeless the worldviews, customs, cultures, and interests of Catholics are, perhaps then they'll notice how we're just like them, and how nothing really captures their desires more than the rambling, exploratory mind of the faithful throughout the world.
The Church is like a parent who wishes the best for her children, but at the same time tells them that they can be whoever they want to be. The Church says, 'You are my children. Go out into the world. Search for truth, goodness and beauty; search for life. But remember that I will always love you, will always be there for you, will always be shining through, trying to reach out to you through the beautiful, truthful and good things that you find in the world.'
That's what Rambling Spirit attempts to capture. It attempts to capture those tangible examples of truth, goodness and beauty, and show how all of us are searching for those things whether we acknowledge it or not. But the Church, more than anything else, more than anyone else, has done the hard work of bringing to the world the true, good and beautiful.
That is also the mission of Rambling Spirit, and since that is its mission it can be nothing other than Catholic.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published Nov. 11, 2013.