11 Reasons Why Working on The Kindling is Worth the Effort
The end of 2016 and the start of 2017 prompted me to think about my projects, to evaluate which projects are still worth working on, and to ask why those projects are still worth my effort.
This is a law of necessity. Life's short, our powers are limited, we can't work on everything we want to work on, so we need to be selective.
And when we're selecting what to work on and what to set aside, it helps to think about the reasons for what we're doing or deciding to do. Why does this project matter? What principles does it honor? What values does it embody? What ideals does it serve?
As I weighed my involvement in The Kindling project, I dug down for the reasons I was working on it. What motivates me to give The Kindling time, attention, and energy?
For me, there are 11 reasons why The Kindling is worth the effort. Or put more accurately: these are the 11 reasons that came to mind and which I was able to articulate at this stage. (There are often reasons and motivations for our work that are hidden from us and which we can't yet identify.)
I share them with our writers and our readers (perhaps potential writers?).
What moves me might move you, too.
1. The Kindling Helps Cultivate Local Catholic Talent
Phoenix has many intelligent, faithful Catholics, ripe with things worth writing about and sharing with the public. But writing for publication takes (1) effort and (2) opportunity.
So The Kindling is here (1) to encourage local Catholic writers to write and (2) to provide a place for their work to be published. The Kindling is here to help draw out some of the rich Catholic resources latent in the Valley.
2. The Kindling Helps Showcase Local Catholic Talent
Phoenix and its environs are great places to live, to work, to fellowship, and to worship. We have a very good city and a great local Church. They deserve adornment.
The Kindling is one such adornment, one sign among many of Phoenix's spiritual richness. (Another such sign: Catholic Phoenix and its work.)
3. The Kindling Helps Connect Local Catholics
Someone told me that the difference between my life today and my life one year from now will be made primarily by two things: the things I read and the people I meet. I have found much truth in that.
The Kindling is here to provide you both of those things: things you can read and people you can get to know.
4. The Kindling Helps Support the Local Church
One can say many things about the Church, and one of those things is this: the Church is composed of people.
Is it going too far to say:
- That the Church can becomes a richer, intenser version of itself depending on the character of the people who compose it?
- That the Church is wiser when wisdom penetrates you and me more deeply?
- That the Church becomes more faithful when you and I renew loyalty in our hearts and minds to its teaching?
- That the Church attains more holiness in this age and in this place when you and I become more saintly?
I don't think so.
The Kindling is here to help you and me contribute to the sanctity, sageness, and good cheer of the Church in Phoenix.
5. The Kindling Draws People's Attention to Good Stuff that They Might Otherwise Miss
This world, as the work of a Creator who is Goodness itself, contains many lovely things.
Some of those lovely things are in nature (e.g., sunsets, spots to hike in, etc.); some of those things are in the realm of human art and creativity (e.g., coffee, Mozart's music, the Netflix production of The Little Prince). The lovely things in art and in nature are multitudinous. But you and I are limited, finite singulars. We need help discovering lovely things (1) that we might miss but (2) that would delight us if they were discovered.
The Kindling is here to help draw your attention to those lovely things: to remind you to get out and hike with your family, for example, or to try a certain show on Netflix.
6. The Kindling Helps Contribute to a Diocesan Sensibility
The parish is a natural unit of Catholic life. And those of us blessed with a good parish know that a good parish is very good indeed — it sustains and enriches us in our pursuit of an ever-more-Catholic mode of living.
Yet there's a reason that the word parochial, the adjective form of the word parish, has come to mean having a limited or narrow outlook or scope. We can forget to look beyond the bounds of our particular parish and consider the local Church as a whole. That's why a publication such as The Catholic Sun is useful: it informs you about what's happening elsewhere in the diocese.
The Kindling adds to that work in its own way. A perfect example: Will Bertain's article was the first I heard about the new pipe organ at the cathedral.
7. The Kindling is a Place to Discuss Local Things
You and I are each composite. We're personal unities composed of soul and body. Thanks to my soul, I can contemplate spiritual realities (e.g., angelic intellects) and physical things far removed from me (e.g., Saturn's rings).
But because of my body, I'm rooted in the place and the time in which I exist — here and now, hic et nunc. By nature, I'm local. So I need to know about what's around me. I want to know what's happening locally.
For me and the writers at The Kindling, this here-and-now reality is Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, etc. — the cities and towns within the Diocese of Phoenix. You can expect, then, articles such as this one about Tratto, a restaurant that exists (Deo gratias) here and now.
8. The Kindling Uses the Internet for Good and Not for Evil, Thereby Helping to Transform the Culture
The Internet is a powerful tool for communicating knowledge and fostering civil discourse. But it has a lot of pornography, political rage, and useless cat memes. One sometimes shakes one's head at the waste. Yet the fact remains: the Internet can be used by good-willed, intelligent women and men to transform the culture.
But transforming the culture with the Internet doesn't just happen spontaneously or magically. You need to write something. You need to get off your rear end and write a blog post — or at least read one and leave a thoughtful, charitable comment.
The Kindling is here so that Catholics in Phoenix have a dedicated space on the Internet to help transform the culture.
9. The Kindling is Here Because God Made Us This Way
How does Genesis start?
God creates things. He's creative. And one of the things he creates is the human being. In fact, He creates the human being in His image. Which is why we get to use this cool-sounding Latin phrase to describe the human being: imago Dei.
Well, I'm human. And you're human. We're images of the Divine Creative. So of course we're going to be creative. We're going to make stuff and make stuff happen.
The Kindling is here so that you can be creative, either by writing for it, reading its stuff and commenting, or by staying informed about what's happening in the minds and hearts of your fellow Phoenician Catholics and getting inspired.
10. The Kindling is Here to Help Inform and Inspire Local Catholics
If you're anything like me, you get excited when you hear about the cool things that the people around you are:
- thinking, or
The work, the art, the insight, and the joy of others teaches me and stirs me.
- to drink more coffee when Tony writes about it;
- to re-read Eva Brann's book about education when Tom Jay mentions it;
- to watch Ghostbusters when Andrew Ellison includes a YouTube video in his great essay; and
- to ponder Thorpic insights into the workplace politics surrounding coffee.
The Kindling is here to help teach you and stir you in that same way.
11. The Kindling is Here Because It's Fun (1) To Make Stuff and Share It and (2) To See What Others Have Made and Shared
I learned from Aquinas that joy follows the operation of some power.
There's something satisfying about throwing a Frisbee in the throwing itself. It can be enjoyable to review the things that we know, because we delight in the very knowing.
For those who write, writing is enjoyable. The Kindling is a place where writing happens, so it's a place for the joy of writing.
It's also quite delightful to roll out what you've composed, whip off the tarp that's covering it, and see the spectators' response (are those tomatoes they're preparing to throw?) or hear the audience's murmurs (less enjoyable: the chirping of crickets as indifference hangs heavy in the air).
Yet another delight is to be part of a team and to see your teammates doing their work and sharing their productions. The Kindling creates a chance to feel that special delight and bonhomie (it's special enough to deserve a French import).
Here's some Aristotle and Aquinas:
In practical reasoning (as opposed to speculative reasoning), the conclusion is the work that is done or the work that is made (as opposed to a proposition that remains only in our mind).
My 11 reasons are good and useful only to the extent that they motivate me to keep working on The Kindling and to produce results: to write for it, to organizes its activities, to encourage its writers, to publicize its work, etc.
If you thought my 11 reasons were good or useful, then ask yourself: What are you going to do or to make?
- At the very least, keep reading The Kindling. Writers need readers. Reading our work is its own kind of work.
- Write a comment. Do you need to sign up for access? Yes, of course. Welcome to the Internet. You may need to log in. But a comment can add to the right kind of culture.
- Share a post. Let someone else know about what we're doing at The Kindling. Milton writes that "they also serve who only stand and wait." Hanson writes: "They also serve who only share on Facebook."
- Serve as a Writer or a Proofreader. Do it. Make the leap. Volunteer to write or to read other's work. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Encourage Others to Write or Proofread. The Kindling works only if it has people doing the work. And the work is creating and preparing writing for publication on the Internet. It's not that hard to do; the hard part is saying "Yes, I'll do it." You can do it, if you're willing.
Thanks for reading this post and thanks, so much more, for reading The Kindling.