Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh, man, I know I am going to regret this. I just know it.

16 months ago, I, with my esteemed fellow blogger, Fr. Stephen Hamilton, decided to shut down this blog's progenitor, Catholic Ragemonkey. We shut it down because I didn't have the time to get the stories that would serve as good fodder for the site. So, we closed up shop and moved on. I'll be danged if it pulled me right back in. I guess I tried to depart the Island from the wrong bearing, because after all this sailing, I am right back where I started. Sort of...

I had to create a whole new site because I can't access my old Ragemonkey blog due to the loss of my old email account. As with any good endeavor, I am setting up shop in a new place. I guess this is the Others version of Ragemonkey. I am back and rageier than ever. However, I don't anticipate Fr. Hamilton coming back to the blogosphere (I'm not sure I am staying for long), so don't bug him and don't ask him. Like all things Ragemonkey, this is a unilateral move on my part. Something tells me he'll offer fruitful commentary in the comboxes if we are lucky.
(Actually, this might not be entirely true. I may find a way to move the Island. Stay tuned.)

With all that said, cue the voice over guy... "Previously on Catholic Ragemonkey,"

When we last left out intrepid priest, I was working for the Kingdom in North-Central Oklahoma near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. That situation has changed. In June 2007, the Archbishop saw fit to move me three hours south and east to the town of Prague where I became Pastor of St. Wenceslaus and the Rector of the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. I also have a mission parish, 15 miles west of me, St. Michael's in Meeker, OK. To say that the assignment has been fascinating understates the case immeasurably. It is an assignment I would never have guessed I was going to get or deserved. There was a plan for me to teach at our local Catholic university but that seems to be in abayance. The Academic Dean thought that without a doctorate, I wouldn't be a good addition to the faculty. As with all things of God's providence, I can't imagine now trying to juggle the university, the shrine, and two parishes. I can barely manage the two parishes and shrine bit.

Further, readers will recall that I undertook, thanks to Fr. H, a course correction for better health. I joined Weight Watchers and hit the gym. 16 months later, I can report some modest success. I have lost 126 pounds in that time. I go to the Y and participate in Pilates, Kickboxing (always perfecting my whirling spinkick of charity), and weight lifting. At this point in the game, I am trying to get myself aligned with an exercise program for life -- trying to find something I like. In that effort, I am trying everything. More on this later.

As if that weren't enough, I am now confident enough to say that my first book is going to be published, finally. I received an email this a.m. stating that editors were working over the text; that's good enough an indicator to me. There were a few snags and tight spots but all things have worked out. Emmaus Road will be bringing out the first 10 weeks of the first volume in January 2009. So, guess what else I will have on my plate? Revision, revision, revision. The plan is for a multivolume work, and yes, a later post will detail the story of the book.

That plan for a Chesterton Society more or less took off and we are steadily growing. Sorry, ladies, but this is a blokes-only group. If you want one, I recommend getting together, getting a copy of the Autobiography and get to it. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, as the great man once said. I hope to have updates here. We are currently reading Orthodoxy and we had a gas. In my personal life, things are improving. I have begun to reflect on two dynamics in my life that serve as the guiding lodestones: friendship and gratitude. Growing up in the situation I did, I found it hard to really connect with others. Don't get me wrong; I would reach out to folks but it never seemed like people reached back. That, to some extent, hasn't changed. Part of that is I can be a crashing bore. The other part is I have a tremendous need for community. In the last year, I have become convinced of the truth that my need for the good friendship, that authentic form of love, is not just something I have neglected, I have been starved for. So, I continue to strive to be a better friend. To all my friends who find their way here, if I have offended, don't just forgive me; call me on it. Just not in the comboxes.

As to gratitude, the story is similar. Growing up in the situation I did, it is very easy to focus upon what was lost. It's akin to a character in a book series I am reading (more on that later), who feels isolated and useless because he can't be the noble prince. When compared, though, to the common soldiers with whom he serves, he comes to see how even in the loss, he has gained more than many others will ever hope to gain. Gratitude, simply put, dispels anger, and that is a dark cloud that I want dispelled.

I have been taking guitar lessons (doing okay) and I have begun writing poetry again. It's not good but I am not writing it because it is good or it is publication-worthy. I am writing it because it is who I am. As to addiction to media, culture, and every geeklove topic, that hasn't changed. I met Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright recently; it was for ten seconds and that is not enough time. I have yet to meet Nick Frost but trust me, it's going to happen. Don't know how; perhaps Jacob might know. I recently watched all four seasons of Lost and am totally addicted. (That's what the title of this post and the title of the blog are alluding to.) I also see some pointed cultural pleadings coming up from the telly. That will be on display here. And yes, all of my crackpot theories will be submitted for your edification, because I bet I am right on all counts.

In closing, to the new readers, welcome aboard. To the old readers, welcome back. And the fact that I am staring at this blogger dashboard again after a year is because of three guys. Tony, Sean, and Marvin, I blame you completely for this latest debacle. I hope you are happy. And, Sean, I hope you are right; I hope blogging missed me. In closing, what do I want the Phoenix Station to represent? It's a new beginning. That is what Christ offers to all: a new start and a new future. If you can taste ashes in your mouth, rinse them with baptismal grace and eat and drink of the sacrifice that welcomes you to the Kingdom. But don't think for an instant I have all the answers. I am just a little sparrow in the hand of God. I have a song to sing and a job to do. I am not the prince; I am the minstral, the jester. You see the jingly cap and I hope it makes the truth go down easier. But, don't get me wrong, it is a truth we all have to taste and be converted by. I'll put it to you this way.

In response to the question, posed in a major newspaper of the day, "What is wrong with the world?", G.K. Chesterton had the best reply. He wrote back, "What is wrong with the world? I am. Sincerely Yours, G.K. Chesterton." What is wrong with the world, friends? I am. But I hope with Christ, it won't remain that way. Now, isn't that worth tuning in for?


Michael Bates said...

Happy to have you back in the blogosphere, Fr. Shane! Congrats on your book and your new assignments.

Just today I was thinking it was about time to purge inactive blogs from my feed aggregator, when I saw your latest post pop up. (One of the benefits of holding on to your blog URL when you decide to go on hiatus.)

WICatholic said...

I should have checked when I heard you back on Relevant Radio! I had seen your final entry ... and now found the first one after you came back. (And the change in YOU is awesome, as I remember back in the ol Catholic Stronghold days...)

God bless, and welcome back.