By Carrie Gress
Theology of Home has just turned three! What was once a very humble effort to promote Catholic women's content has evolved into something well beyond our wildest dreams, with books, a product line, an improved website, and now an institutional home at the Washington-based think tank, Ethics and Public Policy Center.
We continue to be so grateful to our readers, supporters, family, and friends who helped make this happen (and a special shout out to Becky Carter and Megan Schrieber who were there in a BIG way at the beginning).
I've learned a lot on this journey. The first is to never underestimate what the Holy Spirit is doing, even with the most humble of beginnings. I spent years thinking about how to engage women and never dreamed it could be as easy or fun as an online women's magazine. It didn't take long for me to realize that my degree in philosophy wasn't the right answer, but if not, what? When I started, it was as a little blog that had posts that I delighted in writing - things like dueling Roman coffee shops, First Communion gifts for little girls, black turtlenecks, and a gem of a chapel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This content was fun and unusual, but I assured myself that I would eventually get back to my more serious work. But little by little, I began to see that what I was enjoying might actually be enjoyable for others. Rather than see the work in which I was delighting as a distraction, I began to realize that the fun was the key I'd been looking for. God makes pleasurable the things he wants us to do, so why not create for women engaging content without all the elements that offend our faith? It's shockingly simple and yet seems a path less traveled for Catholics in general.
I've noticed some trends over the past three years. The first is that women's content is often more story driven, so getting a clean blog post without biographical narrative is a lot harder to find than in men's content. This isn't a bad thing, but it makes it more challenging to find content that fits our site.
We have also seen an uptick in lifestyle and human interest content on other Catholic sites. The Loop has recently added longer reads and lifestyle articles to their Saturday post and our friend Kevin Knight now posts non-Catholic articles on human interest at New Advent.
We are also witnessing an expansion of women's content on the book publishing level. Our friend Nicole Caruso is publishing a fashion book Worthy of Wearing (Sophia Press), and we have heard of others in the works on gardening and cooking.
While Catholic media is expanding, secular women's magazine content appears to be contracting. When we first started, there were interesting and engaging posts at places like Southern Living, Coastal Living, and Martha Stewart. But these sites are slowly being gobbled up by the Meredith magazine publisher, and are becoming nearly identical copies of each other, with more superficial content, peppered liberally with slide shows (which we find burdensome and not always worth the effort). This is a trend that has made it harder to find the kind of content we love to share. Garden & Gun continues to be an exception and we are grateful for its unique voice. Others like Saveur and Veranda have also maintained unique identities.
And last but not least, we believe that people need our content now more than ever. We all need a break from the state of the world and the firehose of bad news. We all need a respite at times, to restore our spirits, to find our creative spark, and to be reminded that there is good in the world, in people, and in the Church.
We look forward to serving you for years to come. We hope to bring you more great original content and we are still dreaming of one day having a real print version of a magazine. But as ever, our goal is simply to follow where the Holy Spirit leads!