The Material Cause of Catholic Phoenix
As the page on Catholic Phoenix’s form makes clear, the material we publish comes from a wide variety of contributors. That variety is characteristic of Catholic Phoenix.
But variety also characterizes Bedlam: the diversity of that site’s inhabitants is one of its most salient features. So some questions need to be answered about what gives Catholic Phoenix its operational unity and keeps it from sliding into a garbled cacophony.
Who are the Catholic Phoenix contributors?
The grand principle that gathers all the contributors into one coherent whole is friendship. Everyone who contributes to Catholic Phoenix is a friend of every other contributor. But given the constraints of factors like time and space, Catholic Phoenix is forced to draw a distinction: the friendship binding the contributors together is either actual or potential. The contributors are either personally acquainted with one another at the moment, or are eagerly awaiting the moment when they will meet (for instance, at a wine tasting replete with savory foods—an event which Catholic Phoenix has been known to organize).
And if any there be who doubt that the principle of friendship—especially friendship fortified with free wine and savory foods—is inappropriate for a Catholic blog, we gently refer them to Question 23, Article 1 in the Secunda Secundae.
How are contributors selected?
The form of the site having been granted and the principle of friendship having been postulated, the method of selection follows necessarily:
A Catholic Phoenix contributor can be any person who holds the tenets professed by the Church of Rome, who has something to add to the site, and who is able and willing to abide in this particular friendship.
This rule of selection answers all sorts of practical questions about how the site operates. For example:
Could you be a contributor if you lived in Yuma or Show Low rather than Phoenix? It would be difficult to sustain an active friendship with all the other contributors from those extremities of the state.
Can you be a contributor even if you didn’t have a degree in theology? If you’re sincere in your beliefs, coherent in your grammar, and plausible in your logic, Catholic Phoenix will publish you. The site thrives when there is a variety of insights expressed in readable English prose, i.e. when something is added to the site. You don’t need a degree to do that.
What if I was raised Catholic, think that Catholic culture is important and even beautiful, but disagree with the Church’s teachings on certain issues—could I be a contributor? No. The ‘Catholic’ in Catholic Phoenix needs to have a meaning. In a sense, the precise meaning of what it is to be ‘Catholic’ is not fixed indisputably and finally. Make no mistake: the creeds are certain and have meanings attached to them that won’t vanish with the passage of time (“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Heb. 13:8.) Those creeds, though, are held in the human mind, the created nature of which is to try to go from something it happens to know to something it doesn’t know quite as well. In a word, genuine faith is properly the object of rational argument. So disagreement and debate within the Church are not only possible—they’re inevitable (go read Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine to get a feel for this). But so, too, are heresy and apostasy. Those occur when attachment to one’s own arguments overwhelms one’s willingness to recognize the actual authority of the Church. Within the wide variety of Catholic Phoenix’s contributors, all recognize the Church’s authority to teach in matters of faith and morals.
Against what carefully thought-out criterion is each post measured in order to determine its suitability for publication on Catholic Phoenix?
There isn’t one. It isn’t that the content of the posts earns them a spot on Catholic Phoenix. The posts aren’t primary.
It’s the contributors that matter. The character of the contributors ensures that the posts are fit for publication on Catholic Phoenix. There isn’t an editor who judges whether posts are appropriate or not; there’s just a person who makes sure that the right html code is in place so that his friends’ thoughts will be made known.
What if I would like to be a contributor, but I haven’t happened to meet any of you. Am I out of luck?
No way. The thing about the kind of friendship that makes the community underlying Catholic Phoenix possible is that it is inherently expansive. We’re always eager to meet new people who are interested in contributing to the site. Shoot an email to email@example.com if you want to join the fun.