Writing in Community

July 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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Well, last week’s post on this blog page was my two-hundreth. This one is my two-hundred-and-first.

WordPress, my blog site provider, informs me of the number of my posts every time I do one. I couldn’t help noticing when the announcement hit two hundred. Even I think that’s a lot.

I began blogging in August of 2009, just after my last book, Tracing the Sign of the Cross, was published. The blog was supposed to help sell the book. Good luck with that. As a friend said, if American Catholics really do suffer from an inability to mourn as I argue in Tracing, they probably don’t want to read about it.

I also had a notion that a blog would be a good place to pursue my then-growing interest in World Christianity, more specifically, Christianity in the Global South. I was taken up with the notion that the future of Catholicism was in Africa and Latin America. I even got a research appointment at the Center for World Christianity at New York Theological Seminary in Manhattan.

But soon, the blog more or less became an end in itself. Sometimes I write about Catholicism, or about gender and Catholicism, which have been major interests of mine since the 1970s. Sometimes I write about the environment—climate change, water, fracking—which are the things I worry the most about. Sometimes I just write. I have considered changing my tag line from “An American Catholic on the Margins of World Christianity” to “An American Catholic on the Margins of Catholicism” or even “An American Catholic on the Margins of Almost Everything.”

I began writing long before I had a blog page, of course. I started wanting to be a writer when I was a kid. When I was twelve I had forty-two pen pals, most of them from Girl Scout camp. In high school and college, I wanted to be a poet, till it dawned on me that only geniuses support themselves as poets, and not even geniuses most of the time. I published my first genuine article in an education journal, The Reading Teacher, in 1974. I also made good money as a grant writer between 1979 and 1992.

I suppose I hoped for a while that I would become a famous writer and get invitations to go places and talk about my books and articles. But I am really terrible at promoting myself–a common characteristic of shanty Irish, I’m told. At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion one year, my mentor, Laura Levitt, said to me “There’s Judith Butler. Go tell her what a brilliant job you did using Gender Theory in your chapter on Mary Gordon.” I almost fainted at the thoughtOne of my books, about Sophia, did make some money, but I wrote it with two United Methodist minister friends, Hal Taussig and Sue Cole. By the time we split the royalties three ways, they were pretty modest. (And I have to confess that Hal and Sue did most of the promotion!)

But I don’t really care about all that. What has come to me over the years is that writing is something that  I do for and within the communities I belong to: The Grail Movement; the Catholic women’s ordination movement, especially the Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference branch of that movement; Pax Christi Metro New York, the local branch of the international Catholic peace movement.  Most of the hundred or so people who “follow” my blogpage are members of those communities, as well as family and friends.

I suppose I could be out there promoting my writing as if I were James Patterson or somebody. I got an email last week from CreateSpace, the Amazon wing that’s publishing my collection of articles about the nuns, coaching me on how to get more buyers. One of these days I may read it. But what really matters to me is the conversation I’m having with you all, in Philly, in the Grail, around the country. And I love it when you comment on my posts, so please would you join the tiny group of those who do and say something back now and then?  Xox.

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