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Friday, June 01, 2007

Writing From the Heart of Faith

I'm going to share my dream with you. It's a dream that just came up in the combox below, but one that has been on my heart for a long time. A couple years, anyway.

I think it's obvious I want to be a writer, and to a certain degree, I AM a writer. I'm not sure who said it, but I do think a famous person defined a writer not as someone with a long list of publication credits, but rather, as someone who MUST write. I am the latter. I have few credits to my name, but if I did not write, I don't know what I'd do.

So, the background to my dream:

A few years ago, while I was discerning the religious life, I read a book called, "UNVEILED, The Hidden Lives of Nuns" by Cheryl L. Reed.

Ms. Reed, a journalist by profession, was raised fundamentalist and attended a Catholic church as an adult, but did not convert because she had the grace to admit she wanted to pick and choose what she believed, so she converted to Orthodoxy. Sadly, I think she was not well catechized there, either, and was an apparant Cafeteria Orthodox. I do not think she had evil intentions; rather, she was a secularist, not a Catholic, and while I appreciate an outsider's view, she could not do justice to the beauty of our faith.

Anyway, as a journalist with no real understanding of Catholicism, she went into several convents, monasteries, cloisters, and homes to experience the lives of sisters and nuns. I have to admit it's a good idea, and she did not limit her experience to the "progressive" or "liberal" orders to which she was clearly most sympathetic. She also entered the traditional, severe orders such as the Redemptorists, Trappists, and Passionists.

She told the story as any media pundit would tell it, not understanding Catholicism, thus she saw the dissident communities as actually on par or superior to the faithful communities. The book made me embarassed for Catholicism due to the rampant disregard for the Truth. I felt that she made the faithful orders appear to be superstitious and strange, which must be how she saw them in her nearly faithless perspective.

I could not get through the book. I often had to put it down, and this book did more to push me AWAY from religious life than anything else. But I'm not an idiot so I did not let her perspective affect my own discernment. Which is why I put the book down when I got angry. I did eventually get through most of it by piecemeal or by skimming, but by then, an idea began to form.

I'm Catholic, and I'm doing my best to be a faithful Catholic. I'm doing my best to know and understand and teach the faith as it was handed down from Jesus Christ himself. I pray that when I teach, it is Jesus who speaks through me, with all the authority of the Church, not the authority of Adoro. idea is this:

Take up this same project, but from a different perspective: Visit these communities and write about them from the eyes of faith, the knowledge of the Church, and make the book not just informative, but a spiritual testament of the vibrancy of religious life in America. I would like to visit male orders also but I don't think that would work, so I would suggest that a male author take up a parallel project and complete that part.

In any case, I would love to spend some time with various communities, from days to weeks at a time depending upon how such a thing would work out, live with them, pray with them, write about them, learn from them...and not only tell their stories, but share their wisdom and spirituality. I would focus on the faithful communities.

Because I don't see how an unknown author such as myself would be able to take up such a project, I have not considered the specifics. But if I could do this, I fully believe it could be done even while I am in grad school (Ave Maria program meets once per month, all weekend long, leaving the rest of the month free). Such a project paired with solid theology in grad school...what treasures God could bring out of that intellectual and prayerful marriage!

I can't do it as my life stands now. I have seen magazines and writer's books reference grants, but I don't know if there's a grant large enough to cover my mortgage, association fee, etc., my bills, my dogs, and the travel expenses needed to follow this project. I wouldn't want to sell my house because the project would not be permanent, and I'd need a home base to utilize in the actual writing of the manuscript. Besides, I just learned my new printer has fax capabilities.

I think projects like this are usually commissioned by a publisher, and I have no idea how to even seek that out. I know a book like this would sell, but if I didn't already have a publisher asking for it, then I'd need a sponsor, and that person would have to put up a lot of cash on an unknown with no guarantees.

So for now, it's just a dream, but I like this dream, and if God gave me the ability, I'd love to carry it out. There's a certain community down in Nebraska that would be first on my list. (You know who you are!)

So what do you think? I know some of my regular readers are professional writers, and I know that most of you are faithful Catholics. Would you buy such a book? Would you sponsor such an endeavor? Does the Serra Club have any grants for unknown authors who have big dreams?


Anonymous said...

Go for your dream..i will pray for its success..

God bless

Melody K said...

Would I buy such a book? In a heartbeat!
The order in Nebraska wouldn't be the Missionary Benedictines in Norfolk, would it?

Adoro said...

Thank you, Mrs. Jackie Parkes, prayers are needed - and more powerful than anything else!

melody ~ Nope, actually a different community, Fransciscan Marian Sisters. I have a friend there I've never met in person.

But are the Benedictines one that should go on my list? It would make sense to try to go to one area and look at the communities there.

Hmmm...good way to group the state!

The idea is growing....

Melody K said...

Adoro, you might check out the Missionary Benedictines' website,( They are one of the more traditional older orders; they wear habits and have a prioress. We are acquainted with them because they graciously allow their facility (called a monastery rather than a convent) to be the site for formation and continuing ed. classes for the rural diaconate of the Archdiocese of Omaha.