Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Inaugural Posting, Preliminary Musings on This Project, its Future Development, Etc...

For my inaugural posting to this endeavour, I want to highlight something that Pete noted in his last posting and develop what he said a bit further. In commenting on the project about to unfold before us, Pete had these words to say:

[T]his is a simple effort of simple Catholics. None of us are full-time professional authors. Rather, we are Catholics with something to share -- a love of Church and a love of the classical Roman liturgy. I mention this because La Nef is just as renown for its quality of writing as for its charitable and non-polemical spirit. It is a standard to which each of us at this blog aspires, but please bear with us as we struggle to get there.

Now certainly anyone who has been webmaster of a weblog or website (and this is the first weblog I have participated in where I was not in charge)... knows that it takes time for one of these things to jell correctly. That is certainly the case with an individual's weblog where there is a struggle to find the direction in which they want the weblog to go in. Certainly my main weblog took some time to find its direction and (arguably) still is growing in ways I did not anticipate when the project was launched over three years ago. And with group weblogs (including my group weblog), it is easier in that you do not bear the load individually certainly but also harder in that people bring to the table different operative viewpoints, backgrounds, experiences, and temperaments -and with the latter it can vary from issue to issue.

Weblogs have a way of taking on their own life, nourished by the writers themselves who shape them but also from various other influences (i.e. current events, the various subjects covered, emails from readers on the subjects covered, comments box participation by readers, etc.). None of what I am noting here should not surprise anyone really since the combination of (i) passionate viewpoints, (ii) the writer's craft, and (iii) forcefulness of expression, there can be a degree of unpredictability involved in a project with multiple contributors. This tension will be most evident in the earliest phases as the weblog starts to take on a recognizable shape of its own. At times the tension may be incendiary even when this is not intended. And as any who have written for weblogs or group projects among us knows (and judging by the scroll that is practically everyone), spirituality is the weak link in the case of everyone involved....making this a necessary point of self-examination on a regular basis.

Persuasive arguments in and of themselves are not enough, what is needed is a realist approach to the issues being discussed. We all need to strive to avoid the excessive pessimism that so often accompanies the realization that things are not "as they should be." However, we also need to strive to avoid the kind of excessive optimism that sees all problems as "easily fixable if not for the stubbornness of others" if you will. I would claim that there should be a general trend towards optimism with an endeavour such as this but with a healthy dose of recognizing that (i) things are never "as they should be" and (ii) things are always able to be improved.

Christianity after all is supposed to be Good News and this should be reflected in one's general dispositions particularly when one is involved in making criticisms...and the latter will not be wanting I am sure in the weeks and months ahead by probably everyone who writes for this weblog (on at least some subjects which are discussed). Criticisms at times are necessary of course but they should be carefully handled since we are all dealing with events and (at times) mysteries that transcend us. And with the prevalence towards serial negativity that permeates the work of not a few who claim for themselves the mantle of being Traditional, it is my hope that we can provide something with this project that is not and never has been common to so-called "traditionalist" media outlets in North America and that is what Pete refers to above in noting the pattern of La Nef possessing a synthesis of quality of writing with a charitable spirit which is also non-polemical. One of those three ingredients tends to be missing in the North American discourse with few exceptions to be noted. Let us all strive to make this project one of the very few which shows no discernable lacuna in any of the ingredients which Pete mentioned in his last posting and which were reiterated above.

For the reasons noted above, I believe it is important for us who will participate in this endeavour (either as writers, as readers, or both) to remember the difficulties in a project such as this one which is at its gestation if you will and to try and do so at all times. After all, there will not be a seamless and totally irenic development to this project. Instead, pure tranquility is not possible on this side of the eschaton particularly when you have writers such as Pete has assembled here who happen to have strong viewpoints and can express them forcefully. It will take time for this weblog to find itself but how much time cannot possibly be known in advance. All that can be given is estimates at best and I will venture to give one now based on personal experience with group projects both presently as well as in the past.

Based on my own experiences with group projects, it is safe to say at least six months is a good estimate, maybe more, maybe less. The project will move at its own pace and while we will all contribute to it, we should not try to move things faster than they move of their own volition. I for one look forward to this project finding itself in the coming months and beyond and thank Pete for inviting me to participate along with him and the rest of the distinguished writers he has chosen.