Category Archives: Writing & Blogging

On Reporting Truth to Power: George Neumayr, the McCarrick Mess, and Where Is Everybody?

A friend who is a priest recently wrote me. I had shared an article by George Neumayr on my socials. This friend laid out a very thoughtful rebuke of this particular article. In short, he felt that the article – detailing Neumayr’s investigation into Cardinal Tobin of Newark and the potential object of his “mis-sent” “Nighty Night Baby” tweet – and Neumayr’s conclusions were simply implausible. I won’t detail where our conversation ultimate went for reasons of confidentiality.

However, the exchange got me thinking about something I’ve been saying for a month or more. Neumayr appears to be the only journalist in the world seeking answers to questions any journalist should be asking regarding the crisis in the Church. If you don’t know, Neumayr is an editor of The American Spectator who also does investigative reporting on this current mess. He is fearless, fair, and frank.

Look, I worked in news. I have a good sense of what’s what. I am a writer and I appreciate his style. As a Catholic who lived through McCarrick I greatly appreciate the work Neumayr is doing because I want to know the truth.

As I explained to my friend, a few months ago I don’t think any of us would have believed the things we now know to be true about our hierarchy.

My gut (and my head informed by experience) are guiding me in discerning all that is being reported and I find George’s reporting to be accurate.

I currently work as a courier while I take a brief break from the world of educational administration. Today I got slammed with work (not a bad thing). I live in the DFW area and got a midday call for a drive to east Texas. Five hours later I returned to the office where I was given my next job – an overnight drive to west Texas. Here I sit in the parking lot of American Airlines Priority Parcel Service facility at DFW Airport waiting for the place to open so I can tender this medical shipment and head home.

It is almost 4:30 AM.

The good news in all of this is that I finally got the chance to listen (on Audible) to all of Neumayr’s book The Political Pope. If you have not read it and are dying to know about the motivation behind Francis’ actions then check it out. The book is well sourced, well written, and a real eye-opener. Even I, who did not think I could be shocked by much of anything the current Bishop of Rome has done found myself shouting out “WHAT?!” more than once while driving through a driving rain in the dark on a west Texas interstate.

Trust me, it’s so much better than the AM band in the middle of nowhere.

The only thing I need to add is this plea to the author.

Mr. Neumayr, please consider me for voice talent on your next audio book. Not only have I worked in the field doing announcements for a local station in Florida (the wonders of MP3’s and a solid internet connection) but I possess a solid, smooth, and sure set of pipes.

Also, I wouldn’t repeatedly mispronounce the name of my friend and fellow Christendom College alum Mike Hichborn. ūüėé

And to my readers, once you’ve listened to or read the book or even and especially before you do, go make a donation to Neumayr’s journalism fund so he can keep doing his good work.

Pray for the Church.

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The ‚ÄúAverage‚ÄĚ Collector

My godson who lives in the Capital Region of New York State just published his very first blog post! I was honored that he asked me to look it over for him. It hardly needed any edits. I’m very excited for him (and a little proud too)!

For context he’s a numismatist and wrote this piece for the website of American Numismatic Association. I hope you enjoy and share.

The Myth of the “Average” Collector

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A Prayer for Writers

Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers/authors.  My prayer today is that every word I commit to print may glorify God.  Since I know that many of you, my readers, are also writers I pray the same for you.  And when we encounter others who weaponize their words, may God give us the grace to forgive.

desales

Amazing head of hair, too.

Harvey’s Mailbag

First, a big thank you to the many of you who sent me messages after my last post.¬† It is nice to be appreciated for your writing.¬† For me, it’s nice to be praised for something that was about my dad.

One of my sisters pointed out (rightly so) why Dad would have been laughing at me running.¬† He was an actuary.¬† Numbers never lied to him and the more data he could get his hands on the more complete a picture of your impending mortality he could paint for you.¬† Runners, it seems, tend to die.¬† Well, if I remember this one correctly, it had something to do with the fact that all human beings die.¬† In a nutshell, though, runners tended to enjoy a negligibly similar mortality with non-runners (there was always that control group).¬† In other words, overall, running doesn’t make you live longer or shorter.¬† But it did correlate with death from (do not quote me on this) an enlarged heart.¬† Again, there wasn’t a direct cause and effect, just a correlation.¬† Whatever, I’m going to keep running so I have a way to burn up the nervous energy of an ex-smoker – as in, “What do I do with my hands!?”

Now then, on to the rest of the mail.

Six and half years ago, right after moving to Texas, my wife, in-law’s, and I traveled to Oklahoma one night to see one of my favorite singers – the immortal Frankie Valli.¬† I then wrote a story about it.¬† I’m not even going to link it.¬† If you want, you can find it for yourself.¬† In that story, as in so many stories I’ve written over the years, I employed a sort of absurdist humor.¬† For the uneducated or uninitiated, this type of humor is represented by several key hallmarks including series of events that do not follow (often in an extreme fashion, also called “non sequitir humor”), descriptives that are patently false yet played for reality, and a sense that the narrator may in fact be suffering from dementia.¬† In my story about Mr. Valli, the reader ought to be able to tell a few things.¬† First, I truly do love this man, his voice, and his contribution to the world.¬† There is no denying that.¬† Second, I am using absurdist humor to prop him up.¬† In other words, at an age when every human on the planet has outlived his actuarily lifespan; Frankie Valli is still making a buck, doing what he loves.

So I received the following comment…

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Takeaway: People read Harvey!

At first I wondered if the person posting the comment was a personal friend of Mr. Valli.¬† Then I began to realize something…¬† There is at least one person who read a post of mine almost seven years ago and remembered it well enough to dredge it back up.¬† In an absurd way, this person just validated my writing.¬† But let me address the issue at hand because I do not like to stifle criticism.¬† I’m a big boy and I can take it.¬† The comment was civil in tone.¬† Let’s assume that we live in a world in which a guy from Newark, NJ¬†can’t poke some fun at an idol of his who also happens to come from Newark, NJ (which is a pretty awesome place, by the way) and is a gazillionaire celebrity who’s probably seen worse on the pages of Billboard Magazine.¬† Let’s assume.¬† Well, then, Mr. Valli and your dear family, I apologize for hurting your feelings.¬† If you’d ever like to suggest that my writing is crap please feel free.¬† It’s on me this time.¬† I promise I won’t even cry.

In the meantime, if you’d like to keep reading I¬†will keep writing.¬† And Frankie, if you’re reading this and you ever feel like sending me an autographed headshot for my kids (who also adore you), let me know.¬† I’ll send you my address.

Place Generic Title Here

I’ve often remarked on these pages that a good title will write a good blog.  The both of you, my loyal readers, know this to be true.  The rest of you who swing through to gaze upon the wreckage like so many standers-by drawn to a train crash will also note the lack of many decent titles.

Tonight I want to write.

I want to write for the joy of writing.

I just finished watching a movie.  It was a silly flick starring Kevin James.  In it he plays a writer.  Actually he plays an actuary who is also working on a novel.  I mention that because my late father was an actuary.

A note about that…  Growing up, none of us knew how to answer the question our friends would inevitably ask.  “What does your dad do?”  I remember asking the old man once.  I think I was six.  “Daddy, what do you do?”  Reaching deep into his brain he quickly shot back, without raising his eyes from behind the Wall Street Journal, “Well son, an actuary is the man who brings a bomb on a plane.  Because while the chances of there being one bomb on a plane are negligible, the probability of there being two bombs on a plane are infinitesimal.”

A few years later I had cause to ask him again.  I believe I was 11.  “Dad, what’s an actuary?”  Releasing a puff of smoke from the pipe clenched between his teeth he said: “Well my boy, an actuary is place where they bury dead actors.

Finally when I was sixteen I asked yet again.  “Father, what exactly is an actuary?”  Putting the remote down for a brief moment while switching between Jeopardy! and Crossfire he rejoined: “An actuary, lad, is the guy who uses the last urinal in the men’s room because he knows it cuts in half the statistical likelihood of getting his shoes pissed on.”

And I finally understood.

I went back to all my friends and said: “He does something with math.”

In the movie, James’ character, working on a novel, remarks that he writes to escape life.

Not me.  I write to document life.  I sometimes feel as though if I didn’t write down some of the crazy things that have happened to me no one, not even I, would believe them.  So what crazy things have happened to me lately?

I went out to visit the school where I am soon to begin work as an assistant principal.  I met with my spine surgeon and discovered that I’m in pretty amazing shape.  My kids appeared in a couple of short plays at their music school.

None of these things are amazing by themselves.  Take the job, for instance.  Lots of people start new jobs and lots of people work in school administration.  But standing in my new office the other day looking around, being called into meetings with the principal to decide important matters…  A few short months ago I really would not have believed this is where I’d be.  In the back of my mind I had a goal that had almost vanished.  I wanted to be an administrator before I hit 40.  Here I am.  I still can’t believe it.

So I’m cheating. This spine is strong because it’s been fused.

Sitting in the office with the doctor today and looking at the CT scan of my spine all brightly lit up from the contrasting dye I was convinced he was going to tell me I had some kind of condition, maybe even a spinal tumor.  Instead he said: “Both fusion are holding great and the disc height at the level above is incredible.  Your spine is strong.”  He even tossed in “In fact, you’re looking really good.  What are you doing?”  Hear that?  My spine is strong!  And I’m looking good.  Must be doing something decent.

That’s my girl playing the empress (she of the “new clothes”)

OK, with those two plays…  Nothing really remarkable here except that my babies are growing up.  There was a time not long ago when I would hold them and read to them and take care of them.  Now they’re entertaining me.  They’re memorizing lines, looking so grown-up in character on a stage.  How did that happen?

So the title of this post is so generic I didn’t even have to write it.

Nothing amazing happening here except life.

And life is pretty damn awesome.

Spring Cleaning

The astute reader (that’s about half of you, so one) will note that some of the blocks where pictures should appear in my posts are suddenly showing broken links and captions instead. ¬†It’s parent-teacher conference night at work and I have almost none scheduled. ¬†That means I finally had the time to go through my media files on WordPress and start deleting old pictures in order to make way for newer pictures. ¬†Realizing that I have the originals to just about all of the pics that have shown in my posts either on my hard drive or on Google, I started way back at the beginning (that’s July of 2010) and bulk deleted all the way up through July of 2012. ¬†That saved moved the needle from 3GB of media storage space (which had been all taken up) down to 2.2 GB. ¬†Eventually I will purchase a WordPress premium account and be able to upload tons of pics and video too! ¬†But I’m not there yet. ¬†I blog so erratically ¬†these days that I can’t justify the cost. ¬†Until then, sorry for the broken picture links. ¬†I had been simply reusing old blog pics, some of which date to that time frame. ¬†Remove the picture from the site and it disappears from every post you’ve placed it in. ¬†Just use your imagination.

Another Why I Write

You (both of you) have been eagerly awaiting an update on my new workout so I’d like to take a moment to share.

Actually, my mind is a jumbled mess right now so I’d like to take a lot of moments to share (and sort) a lot of things. ¬†Indulge me? ¬†Look, I’ve been through a lot lately. ¬†Consider it your work of mercy.

Gator 9

If I didn’t blog, how would you ever see fun pics like this?

At work today where I joyfully bounced around between the spiritual battle raging all round us as relayed in Lewis’¬†The Screwtape Letters and the concept of authentic freedom as being something wholly different than license; the subject of this blog came up. ¬†I don’t hide my blog from my students but I sure don’t advertise it either. ¬†“If you can find it, you can read it,” I tell them. ¬†I just like to keep things by and large separate on this one front as I feel I can be more authentically free that way. ¬†A student asked “So why do you blog?” ¬†I thought about it and said “I blog because I need to.”

The truth is that I do love to write. ¬†As I said to my trainer-friend recently “Some men can move heavy weights around. ¬†I play with words.” ¬†Looking back I truly hope he didn’t take that as an insult as I always wanted to be able to one of the former and I greatly admire men like him who actually can move heavy weights around. ¬†Weightlifting gives you an enviable body. ¬†Writing can, well, let’s talk about that…

I write because I am a twin.  Sound odd?  OK, I was born, in all likelihood, speaking a secret language that only one other person understood.  So I spent the next few decades trying out different forms of communication to get my message across to a larger audience.  That period of monosyllabic grunts was kind of awkward for sure.

No?

OK. ¬†Here it is. ¬†I write because I love to write. ¬†I don’t know who reads it and I don’t always care. ¬†After my dad died I got a comment on a post about his funeral. ¬†A woman said she had been reading for years and felt that she knew me and wanted to convey her sympathy. ¬†I was touched. ¬†I have never met her but we have a connection. ¬†Words, you could say, are sacramental. ¬†They make real in the physical world that which is invisible — namely our thoughts. ¬†And when we write we are committing our souls to posterity. ¬†It might not ever be very good writing but a piece of my mind and heart will live on as long as there are eyes to see it. ¬†I have seen this so clearly over the past two months while reading¬†The Chronicles of Narnia to my son at bedtime. ¬†I have become enthralled with these books, with Lewis.¬†I said to my son: “How amazing to think that this man wrote these books so long ago. ¬†He’s dead but the thoughts in his mind are still speaking to us. ¬†His brilliance lives. ¬†The soul lives.”

To me, it’s fun. ¬†I know what I’m capable of. ¬†It is probably the only area of my life where I feel any measure of confidence.

I certainly don’t always feel that confidence in the gym (or the home gym as the case may be). ¬†And that’s where we end for this post. ¬†Did you really think I’d ramble on for 2500 words about a mess of different subjects with no underlying theme? ¬†Ha. ¬†Guess again.