Travels With TAC 2018
Here we are at the end of another year, you and me. We’ve been at it in this space on TAC since the summer of 2011. Can you believe? I was thinking this morning of all the places we’ve been this year on this blog — to the south of France, to spend time with farmers, vintners, and other Catholic agrarians who are trying to live the Benedict Option.
We went to Budapest, where we visited the museum dedicated (mostly) to the terrors of Communism, built by a country raped by the Soviets.
We went to the Czech Republic, where I visited the Prague apartment of the late Czech dissident Vaclav Benda, and met there with his widow, their children, and grandchildren. It was, no kidding, one of the highlights of my life. This place was holy ground. Under communism, the Bendas would sometimes take in people — strangers, even — who wandered over after having been interrogated, even tortured, at the secret police headquarters nearby. The Bendas, faithful Christians, gave them comfort. Excerpt from that blog post:
Kamila told me that she, a university professor of mathematics (like her late husband) read to her kids two to three hours every day.
“Every day?” I asked.
“Every day,” she said. It was part of their intellectual formation.
J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings was a cornerstone of the family’s imagination. I asked Kamila why.
“Because we knew Mordor was real. We felt that their story” — the hobbits and others resisting Mordor — “was our story too.”
She told me that as a mathematician, she knows that the ideology of science is what drives the world today. “Tolkien’s dragons are more realistic than a lot of things we have in this world,” she said, wisely.
We visited the Azores (Portugal) on vacation, and I had a surprise meeting with Miguel Monjardino, a professor of geopolitics who is doing something astonishing and meaningful for young people on his island, teaching them about the classical heritage of the West, and also something about themselves.
Later in the fall, we tromped around Italy with The Benedict Option, where, in a public forum in Rome, I had the most astonishing and humbling moment of this entire Ben Op story: Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the prefect of the papal household and longtime private secretary to Benedict XVI, gave a full-throated endorsement to the book. From the post:
If the Church does not know how to renew itself again this time with God’s help, then the whole project of our civilization is at stake again. For many it looks as if the Church of Jesus Christ will never be able to recover from the catastrophe of its sin – it almost seems about to be devoured by it.
And this is precisely the hour in which Rod Dreher from Baton Rouge in Louisiana is presenting his book today near the tombs of the apostles. And during the eclipse of God, which is frightening us all over the world, he steps before us and says: “The Church is not dead, it only sleeps and rests.”
Also over this past year, this blog broke significant news in the Catholic abuse scandal, with former priest Peter Mitchell’s testimony here in August, about sexual abuse and misconduct in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Mitchell’s revelations caused others to come forward. Now the state attorney general is investigating.
While it was gratifying to, at long last, see Cardinal Theodore McCarrick get his due, after lying about his dirty deeds for years, the satisfaction at seeing justice done was mitigated by yet another round of unspeakable misery for the Catholic Church, this time brought about by McCarrick. It was gratifying to hear privately from so many Catholic readers who thanked me for staying on top of this story. I posted a number of items about the courageous allegations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who pulled back the veil covering corruption, sexual and otherwise, in the highest reaches of the Vatican. This story is not going away in 2019, and I’ll be here to write about it.
One of the most fun things about this blog is the comments section. People compliment me on its quality all the time. It’s not me they’re complimenting — it’s you. I just moderate. This blog’s commenting community is at its best in posts like this one: “Advice For A Weary Ghost,” in which I asked you to give better counsel to a woman who is reaching middle age lost, with nowhere to go, than did the agony aunt at New York magazine. I learned so much from y’all in that.
I was just going through this blog’s TAC archive, and was shocked to discover that there have been just shy of 1,200 posts in 2018. It’s hard to notice that when you’re having fun — and believe me, this is a lot of fun for me. But I gotta say: producing this blog, and the rest of this awesome magazine, is not cheap. We depend on contributions from readers like you to keep the lights on. Trust me, TAC is a low-overhead operation. I have been to the Mothership in DC, and can testify that your tax-deductible contributions aren’t going toward sterling silver spittoons for the editors, or other elaborate office decor. It’s all being plowed back into the magazine.
This here blog might not be your favorite stop at TAC — my own interests and outrages aren’t everyone’s cup of tea — but with almost 1,200 posts from me, surely there was something you liked. Eh? If not, well, there’s so much more here on TAC. Daniel Larison and my other colleagues write a lot about US foreign policy from a non-interventionist point of view (not too many magazines praising Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria — but we do). When I go out and about, readers tell me how much they enjoy the New Urbs series about urbanism. And, how many people thought the little magazine that Pat Buchanan started would outlast the mighty neocon battleship the Weekly Standard?
It did — and it did because of readers like you. We need you!