The Strife is (Kind of) O’er Print
By Robert Royal   
Monday, 13 April 2009

For a few days after Easter each year, I find myself in a kind of holy holding pattern. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth and a cheery winter interlude. But the Eastern Church has it right: Easter is the most important holiday because by his Passion, Cross, and Resurrection, Christ has defeated death. And overcome the world.

The first would already be a lot. The second, if we only look superficially around us, seems only meant in some abstract spiritual way. The world, in the bad sense it sometimes has in Scripture, seems still to be going strong. But for those of us whose vocation seems to be confronting those bad segments of the world, “The Strife is O’er,” in the words of the Easter hymn, at least for a few days. It does not all depend on us. It depends on – and has already largely been dealt with by – God.

Yet even in the Easter afterglow, I worry that Catholics, especially in the United States, do not fully appreciate how much strife we face.

America has been good to many, Catholics included, and there’s a strong temptation to go along with what everyone else is doing so as not to lose a good thing.

Then, there’s an internal Church problem: lots of Catholics who welcomed the Second Vatican Council’s opening to the modern world, or were trained by those enthusiasts for the Council, think that taking some strong stances against that world now constitutes a step backwards.

I have seen professional Catholics recoil in horror at John Paul II’s quite accurate use of the term “the culture of death.” They worry more about the Church seeming negative than about her responsibility, in season and out, to tell the truth.

At The Catholic Thing, we’re very aware of the dual strife that we cannot avoid: challenging ourselves as Americans to look beyond the usual horizon in this nation even as we are grateful for its blessings; and challenging ourselves as Catholics to keep the faith whole and entire, explaining along the way how it is more humane than humanism, more universal than worldliness. And most so precisely when it speaks, clearly and fearlessly, the whole truth.

The Catholic Thing continues to thrive thanks to a few very generous patrons. And some generous writers, who believe enough in the mission that they make serious efforts, for what amounts to spare change, to bring you the indispensable commentary you can find here every morning. In the nature of things, we cannot presume on this generosity forever, which is where you all come in.

I put on the accountant’s green eyeshade for a few minutes and worked out some simple numbers. If everyone reading these words sent in $26 ($26.80 if you use Paypal), The Catholic Thing can continue in confidence for another year. Let me break that down: by putting only 7 cents a day in a jar, or by smoothing out a crumpled dollar every two weeks and sending it in an envelope, you can make your own contribution to assuring the ongoing mission of The Catholic Thing.

Those of you who are aware of what economists call the “free-rider problem,” may wish to send $52, or $78, $104, or some greater multiple of your individual obligation to compensate for those who cannot contribute.

Yes, I know times are tough, but please understand a few things:

The Catholic Thing owns no Toxic Assets, and will not be receiving TARP funds.

TCT’s finances are notably lacking in liquidity, but we will not be getting bailouts.

TCT’s top execs will not be fired or hired by politicians in exchange for loan promises.

 Even if the government subsidizes news outlets, TCT will not be seeing any of the money.

Some of my advisers have told me not to ask for contributions in this peaceful moment after Easter. They say, and they’re right, that fund-raising is most successful – financially – when you go to readers asking them to help you stop some looming disaster like FOCA. I send in contributions myself when I get these kinds of appeals.

But I’m going to make a different kind of appeal to the readers of The Catholic Thing, because I think you are a different kind of reader.

You all know why you come here regularly. If it’s not Ralph McInerny, it’s Hadley Arkes or Father Schall or Austin Ruse, or Mary Eberstadt (She’s good on sins, isn’t she? Come to think of it, we all need to keep an eye on her.) According to an authoritative source, George Marlin’s column on how Lincoln (as opposed to Obama) treated Catholic conscience questions was quoted to our young president. And I haven’t even mentioned Bill Saunders, Joe Wood, or our gentlemanly senior editor Brad Miner, about whose The Compleat Gentleman you will soon hear more.

A young woman whom I’d never met before came up to me with her four young children at an Easter concert this weekend to thank us for our writing, and the single column format that makes reading the site manageable for busy people. “And it’s the kind of thing you can read and it won’t keep you up at night.” I hear the same story wherever I travel, around the country and even abroad.

So think about that – but not too long. Send in your $26.80 or, better, some generous multiple thereof, so that you and many other people can continue to enjoy and benefit and take comfort from The Catholic Thing.


Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His latest book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.

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