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. 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. To believe my words though, you have to first believe that Catholicism is not an angle, but truth, goodness, and beauty ... and life.
The idea 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 has built civilizations, so a Catholic general interest publication--whether it’s a blog, magazine or newspaper--ought to cover all dimensions of civilization. If we simply call Rambling Spirit a Catholic publication it will most likely be pigeonholed into the subcultural category of Catholic publications, and only be attractive to Catholics who are interested in reading such. 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. We do not want to create a fan club of all things Catholic.
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 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 most of the time love doesn't draw attention to itself--because its concern for the beloved is paramount.
Some of the greatest works of art, literature and scientific discoveries in the world bloomed from the minds of people with 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 the Catholic undertones in their writing, which were disguised in their works so as to attract a larger audience. They promoted Catholic ideas without directly presenting them, not in a deceptive way but a subtle and modest way.
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. Even Shakespeare, who some argue was an underground Catholic, has been known to integrate Catholic themes into his work (think of Hamlet’s father visiting him from what could only be 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.
Rambling Spirit will show that Catholics are immensely diverse in their customs, their ideas, ways of life, philosophies ... you name it. It's impossible to find a better focus group than just a group of Catholics, because of their diversity. We are ordinary people trying to live out an extraordinary faith, and that translates into quite a kaleidoscope of creativity. 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 publication, it needs to accommodate everything and everyone. It cannot represent just some neatly packaged religious system centered in Vatican City, and in diocesan chanceries around the globe, because that's just the institutional Catholic Church. There's so much more to the Church than that. Our publication 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, 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. 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.
This article was first published on the Rambling Spirit Blog November 8, 2013.