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A New Chapter
I'm passing the torch on the publication I founded seven years ago and starting anew. It's bittersweet, but it was time.
The announcement went out earlier today that I am stepping down as the Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive, which has been acquired by Crisis Publications. Eric Sammons, who has been promoted to Executive Director there, has been working with me for years. He’s a good guy, and I couldn’t ask for a better guy to take over at 1P5’s helm.
To be honest, some wires got crossed, and I wasn’t expecting to talk about the announcement until the end of the week, but it’s out there now. I wasn’t ready for it, but the finality of it being made public is something I’m managing with a nice celebratory bourbon or three. (If you’ve never tried Smoke Wagon unfiltered — I had never even heard of it — it’s fantastic. And the bottle is so cool.)
It’s a weird thing, starting a publication founded on your most deeply-held beliefs, then watching it take off faster than you ever could have hoped, become a really big deal, and eventually, after the better part of a decade, realizing that it has taken more than its pound of flesh from you and that if you don’t move on, it’ll take more from than you can spare. It’s certainly taken me away from my family more than I’d like, and one of my top priorities is to slow down and spend more time with them. Disentangling yourself from the 24/7 news cycle is valuable in a number of ways, and that one’s critical.
But there’s another benefit. Over the years, I watched the online Catholic media machine grind people up and spit them out. It drives some folks crazy, and makes others bitter and cruel. I’ve had people I considered friends turn on me with sharp hostility. I’ve been called a grifter for making a living writing and speaking about what was most important to me, and I’ve also watched actual grifters slide into the niche I carved out who were far better at playing the pandering game than I ever could be.
That was an interesting lesson.
As for the subject matter, well, you already know how I’m feeling about religion right now. I’ve got a lot of anger, a lot of questions, and a lot of things to sort out as regards faith. Which is why I’ve transitioned much of my writing to this space now, with the shackles (mostly) off and the content shifted to a much more broad range of topics. (Fair warning: the nature of my exploration of things here will be provocative at times. If you’re not on board with that, it’s better for you to know it now.)
In addition to writing here, and the planned upcoming new podcast, I am also very seriously hoping I can at long last devote some time to fiction. It’s what I always wanted to do before I dove head first into the deep end of the culture war, and it’s my hope that it will allow me to spend time hashing out and developing some of the themes that I’m wrestling with in non-essay form.
As for the rest, well, as you know, I’ve got a brand new baby in the house (and six other kids still at home besides), we’re working on packing up so we can sell our place, and we’re actively searching for a new location to call home. We’re very seriously considering New England — both New Hampshire and Maine have their appeal — as we’ve long wanted to get away from the desert and settle back down in a place with seasons, natural beauty, and proximity to the coast. It’s going to be a fresh start, for all of us, and I’m pretty excited about what the future will bring. (The new podcast will probably have to wait until we’re in a new location, so that’s one of the things holding it up. But it’s coming!)
If you’re able to swing it, I ask that you please consider becoming a paying subscriber to this Substack. It’s only $5 a month — you can’t get a latte or a burger for that much anymore — and it will be, for the time being, the only source of business revenue I’ll have to support my family. If you can’t swing it, but enjoy it, I hope you’ll share it with your friends. Just don’t do it out of charity, please. I learned over the past 7 years running a non-profit that I hate asking for donations more than just about anything else. I’m providing a service here, so if you like it, I hope you’ll consider this an exchange of value we can both agree is worth the price.
That’s it for now. I’m not going away, I’m just going to be taking more time. Time to read, to think, to learn, to live, to love, and to write — here, first and foremost. It’s bittersweet, but I’m happy to be free to step back and start writing this new chapter. I have a pretty strong feeling it’ll be a good one.
Thanks for being here to be a part of it. I appreciate you all.