Welcome to Stumbling Toward Heaven!

Greetings and welcome to my new blog! The goal of my blog, as of all my writing, is to speak of life, the universe, and everything from a Catholic perspective. It will reflect who I am, my theology, my moral convictions, my politics, my aesthetics, my sense of humor, and my many, many, many flaws.

Why a new blog? Practicality and my blogging style.

My writing style first. I’ve been writing for Patheos ever so long. Before it became Patheos it was something else and I was permitted to write shorter blogs about incidental stuff in the news. If a thought occurred to me, I could express it as a thought and be done with it. But the needs of Patheos were such that they demanded essays of 500 words at least. Multiply that by 6 days a week (which I tended to ignore on Saturdays) and stretch that out over years and you can see that I was cranking out a huge amount of work for them, in addition to all the other stuff I wrote in terms of books (just finished one! Yay!), magazine pieces, and so on. Which brings me to my next point, practicality.

Wanna know how much I made from Patheos last year? $1235. That’s with no withholding. A hundred bucks a month. That is waaaaaay too much work for such a puny return. Happily, I had another job that was my main source of income, so we did alright. But that was changed by COVID-19. So it was time to figure out new income sources.

I talked to my chum Simcha Fisher (whose stuff you really should be reading if you are not). She was one of the folks who urged me to set up a Patreon account (which you should also check out and subscribe to). And she also said that if I set up my own blog, I could hook up with Mediavine or something similar and get ad sponsorship $$$ that could triple or quadruple the paltry peanuts Patheos paid (plus indulge my love of alliteration).

Making more money rather than less during the Trump Depression seems smart to me, especially when it lets me do more what I want and not less. So here we are!

(By the way, minor logistical note: This entry is to establish a toehold on this here new blog turf, which I have yet to fully master. Meanwhile, I owe Patheos blogs till the end of the month and I need to get this new blog figured out and I need to finish my taxes. So I will start blogging here in earnest on Monday, June 1. But I posted this so that readers from my old blog could find and bookmark the new site. I will keep referring folks to this blog entry this week but I will, never fear, have more here next week.)

For youse guys, my readers, what I aims to do is pretty much what I have always done in terms of content: tell the truth (though with more love, something I am bad at), crack you up, and educate both of us about the Faith and the world in light of it.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but the whole reason I started writing about the Faith was simply that when I learn something I find beautiful or exciting or cool–or just plain true, even if it sucks–I have to share it and experience the lights coming on in somebody else. I thought for a while of becoming teacher. Went through the Teacher Certification Program at the University of Washington about the same time I was starting to explore writing in the late 80s and early 90s. But I found that teaching was hard for me because so many students were there by compulsion and did not want to learn what was being taught. I wanted to share wonder, not be a jailer.

Then I discovered, almost by accident, that this was what was happening when I published stuff. People would have the lights come on and would write back, excited to learn the cool thing I had just learned and written about. So I started writing more because of this. The discovery that I could make a modest living at it came later and was (and remains) seen by me as Providence.

My goal is still to do that. But for me, that means continual learning and growing. The Catholic faith, though rooted in the Tradition, is a fundamentally creative Faith because it is the revelation of a Creator God. I sometimes think at least some of my readers want me to just write By What Authority? or some other book of mine over and over. But I said what I needed to say about the authority of Tradition in that book. And I have said other things I needed to say about other stuff in other books. These days, it seems to me that the crying need of the American Church in which I live is for us Catholics to authentically live what we believe. And with the subculture of “faithful conservative prolife” Catholics I once identified with, that has been, not so much a dismal failure as a spectacular supernova of catastrophe.

The American Church is not the only expression of the Church there is, nor are “faithful conservative prolife” Catholics the only American Catholics there are. But because of the accident of money and a gigantic media microphone, they are just about the loudest Catholics in the world. My readers are aware of my criticisms of this subculture and I will not repeat them here. Instead, I will simply say to Catholics (and those non-Catholics wondering about the Faith) who are confused, exhausted, disquieted, angry, feeling isolated, and yet still are drawn to Jesus Christ in his holy Church in this super-weird time, I am your brother and I believe still in Jesus and his revelation through his holy Church and I hope that we can, together, keep going further up and further into his Kingdom by living in truth, listening to his saints and the Spirit speaking through the Magisterium, and bearing one another’s burdens.

This blog will not by written by or for perfect people. It is written for those who are, like me, stumbling toward Heaven. Welcome! I hope you find a haven here to help you grow, let you know you are not alone, help you forgive those who need it, help you heal, and show you a little of what God has prepared for those who love him.

Think of this blog as a Hobbit Hole for your Spirit.


34 Responses

  1. Mark! I am so glad to “hear your voice,” and this sounds like a wonderful idea… I look forward to see where you take this as you enjoy the freedom… and you know, my soul could totally use a hobbit house to hang out in once in awhile! ❤️

  2. First!

    And while I’m at it, I’ll wish you success in your new endeavor. But yeah, I think the only ones breaking even or making a moderate income on Patheos are some select blogs on the non-religious section. I think they have so much traffic that it spills over to other blogs across different religious traditions.

  3. There’s a lot here to reflect on. I guess in one sense I’m concluding that the world doesn’t need that much writing about Catholic and related matters. In other words, perhaps most people have enough to do in their own “real” world and they don’t need the volume of writing that Patheos seems to think it does!

    It’s similar to a retreat. You go; you listen to a set of good meditations from the priest, and while there’s a lot of ground covered, the amount of “new work” we can take on in our annual resolutions is considerably less.

    Perhaps we need to detach a lot more from Catholic writers and focus on the one or two points we need to in order to love our spouse more, and our children better.

  4. I look forward to this new endeavor!

    Thanks for mentioning Mediavine, learn something new everyday!

    As for Patheos, their revenue structure is too limited (not going to touch the content part). It’s difficult to make a multi-group blog like Patheos (see Foedus), but if remove the revenue component, the fellowship & mission means a lot more.

  5. Congrats on the new digs, Mark!

    Part of me will miss the old title, which came with you from Blogspot to Patheos if memory serves. But Stumbling Toward Heaven is a great name.

  6. Yah, I’ve heard from others that the only people making money on Patheos are the owners.

    Good luck in the new endeavor!

  7. Been a lurker for a while since your thoughts on the conservative prolife movement have really resonated with me lately. I don’t think you give Latin Mass folk a fair shake, but otherwise look forward to reading your new blog

  8. Welcome to the world of WordPress. I’m a huge fan of the platform (it powers every site I’ve helped set up).

    May I suggest your own domain with a WordPress install? Many providers have a one-click install that allows you to install it without mucking about with FTP or command line. The up-front cost is generally the cost of your domain & site package. I’m with InMotionHosting and have their launch package ($110/year+tax). The benefit is that you have complete control over your WordPress install (and a custom domain – brand recognition!). I don’t know of any downside – but I say that as a geek who enjoys that sort of thing, I’m admittedly biased!

  9. Welcome to your new digs. I had no idea the Patheos work and pay conditions were so egregious

  10. Though Discus is very convenient, being a single pkace to check on all my online conversations, I shall try to stop by.

  11. Saw this a couple of days ago, but wanted to leave you a comment here. I like the new digs and the hobbit hole a lot! You’ve inspired me to get back to writing in my blog. I moved here to WordPress a few month’s back and have written some, but want to be more active in my writing. Love to you and the family!

  12. Good move, Mark. Maybe we won’t have to deal with Satan Nannybot here. I will visit as always.

    I’m changing my name effective with your blog, and will eventually change it elsewhere. Several people have already been able to figure out who I am really, not that it was all that difficult. But I have very little interest in crazy people.

  13. Good Lord, I had no idea that Patheos was run by such slave drivers. Even back in the days of pulp, people got better than $30 for 3000 words. I’ve been praying for your continued solvency, and I’m glad to see things are working out a bit better for you.

    And if there’s blame for our current economic woes, I think it should include first British epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, who said the US would have over two million deaths from COVID (yes, 2,200,000) and advocated, as he has for every scary disease with which the media has menaced us these past 20 years, full societal shutdown. And for the first time, governments have done his bidding.

    And second, blame should go to the Chinese Communist Party, which forbade travel from Wuhan to other parts of China, but NOT any other nation on Earth.

    But sure, Trump deserves some blame for letting himself get stampeded into drastic shutdowns on the basis of baseless guesses that SARS-CoV-2 was the second coming of the Spanish Flu, and suppositions that our ability to treat such a disease had not advanced in the last 100 years.

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