Transcript of Interview with Julie Davis about Happy Catholic – the blog and the book. This interview and others like it can be found at http://www.catholicspotlight.com
Listen Now to the audio version of the show.
Happy Catholic is available at The Catholic Company.
Chris Cash: This is the Catholic Spotlight, the show where we talk about whatâ€™s new, cool and exciting in the Catholic marketplace. Iâ€™m your host, Chris Cash, from the Catholic Company, your source for all your Catholic needs.
I got to tell you, right now weâ€™re have something excellently new and cool from Julie Davis, it is happy Catholic glimpses of God in everyday life. Glad to have you on the program Julie.
Julie Davis: Thank you for having me Chris.
Chris Cash: Julie is an extremely talented author â€“ she laughs, but authoring is just the latest in the long line of accomplishments that Julie has all the way from being part of advertising. You own the advertising agency right?
Julie Davis: Yes, my husband and I have it together.
Chris Cash: Thatâ€™s General Glyphics. Where can people find you at General Glyphics if theyâ€™re ever in need of advertising help?
Julie Davis: Glyphnet.com.
Chris Cash: Excellent.
Julie Davis: Which I hope you have a link because thatâ€™s super hard to spell now that I think about it.
Chris Cash: Weâ€™ll get a link in the show notes, donâ€™t worry; head on to Catholic Spotlight if you canâ€™t figure out how to spell Glyphnet.
Julie Davis: These people are smarter than the average bear, let me just say, I know that.
Chris Cash: Youâ€™re correct, although sometimes people really make it really hard to spell things.
Julie Davis: We named it General Glyphics and we thought we were being so clever, and then we found out no one can pronounce Glyphics, no one can spell Glyphics, no one knows what it means. So we shot ourselves in the foot right out of the box.
Chris Cash: So much for being an advertising group, we should start the show over.
Julie Davis: Luckily, weâ€™d seem to do much better for our clients than we do for ourselves.
Chris Cash: Anyway, also to Julieâ€™s credit, sheâ€™s an avid blogger and podcaster, one of the most popular Catholic blogs in the Internet, HappyCatholic.Blogspot.com. You can check that out. How do you respond when people say, â€œOh, so youâ€™re the happy Catholic.â€
Julie Davis: I know, I always have to put that tagline in, â€œnot always happy but always happy to be Catholic.â€
Chris Cash: What are you podcast that you do about?
Julie Davis: I do one called Forgotten Classics, and it actually is where Iâ€™d read a book over time and give a little feedback that people give me and that sort of thing. But itâ€™s funny because it was set up to not be about faith, I just wanted to read old books that people have forgotten about. A non-Christian reader said â€œHey, would you do Genesis as a piece of literature?â€ I was like, â€œWow, okayâ€ so thatâ€™s what weâ€™re reading now. So back to the faith, you just canâ€™t escape it, right?
Chris Cash: Absolutely.
Julie Davis: Then also, I have one that just got started, Episode 10 will be coming up next week, and thatâ€™s called A Good Story is Hard to Find. Itâ€™s got Daniel *** [00:03:26] I discussed popular books and movies, we alternate on those; and what is the one reality, the traces of it that we can see underneath that popular culture as Catholics.
Chris Cash: I think youâ€™re going to have to send me a list of all the links that we just went down so that I can make sure to get all of those on the show notes.
Julie Davis: Yes, I know. People say, â€œHow do you do these?â€ I say I have a very wonderful, supportive husband and not a very clean house. I spend too much time on these things.
Chris Cash: I can completely relate to that comment right there, although I blame my five children for the unclean house more than me.
Julie Davis: Yes, Iâ€™m going to remember that. My dogs, my kids are now out of the house…
Chris Cash: Itâ€™s all the dogâ€™s fault.
Julie Davis: Yes, itâ€™s our dogâ€™s fault, thatâ€™s it. Thank you.
Chris Cash: Letâ€™s talk about the Happy Catholic, the book, as opposed to the blog. How would you describe Happy Catholic to somebody who was walking through the bookstore and saw this bright, yellow, smiling cover looking back at them?
Julie Davis: I would say it celebrates how we can relate to popular culture in everyday life as Catholics, as a quick look. What it is essentially is that I love quotes, they can just be so good at reflecting a deep truth. I was really surprised after I converted about 11 years ago to find that so many quotes and pertinent bits of popular culture â€“ books, movies, songs â€“ all reflected a much deeper truth than I had realized before. So when I was thinking about writing this book, Servant Press who put it out â€“ or Servant Books I guess is the actual name â€“ they said, â€œYes, but we want to know what Happy Catholic thinks.â€ So I essentially put reflections of the sorts of things that go through my mind when I put one of these sorts of quotes on my blog every day, which is where I use a lot of these quotes in the first place.
Chris Cash: I would say Iâ€™ve always been a great fan of quotes and things as well. In fact I used to send out quotes and things in college to everyone I knew. They eventually became a mailing list and finally became InspirationalArchie.com where I post everything that I find nowadays.
Julie Davis: Yes, which is a great spot, I love it there.
Chris Cash: Thank you.
Julie Davis: Youâ€™re welcome. So as a fellow quote lover, you know that you can have things that connect in ways you donâ€™t expect like Bob Dylan and Flannery O’Connor, Saint John Vianney and the African Queen â€“ or I donâ€™t know, Batman and the Pope. I donâ€™t do that on everything, but sometimes there are odd connections.
Chris Cash: This book contains quotes from so many different sources. Iâ€™m looking right at the beginning, youâ€™ve got a quote from St. Augustine across the page from a quote from Futurama.
Julie Davis: One of my favorites.
Chris Cash: But how they go together…
Julie Davis: Well, thatâ€™s the thing. The thing is if youâ€™re really grounded in what the faith teaches and trying to find God in life because isnâ€™t that the point on a lot of it, keeping yourself in his will. How do you do it if you donâ€™t think about that stuff a lot? Thereâ€™s something surprising in a lot of these things where they like I say they have that same element of truth. Itâ€™s there everywhere, itâ€™s really the coolest thing ever. St. Augustine said, â€œNature is a book, you donâ€™t even have to read.â€ Well, if you can find God in nature which is how people did it for so long a lot of the time, surely you can find it in places where people are telling us about the things they love best.
Whether youâ€™re a person of Christian faith or not, the things that you love best are the things that are common to all of us; God, family, God even if you donâ€™t know what to call him, a good life, helping your friend, supporting each other in hard times. Those have reflections that come back to us and show us another little facet of that diamond that has God in the middle of it, if that makes sense.
Chris Cash: Absolutely, I mean I find God in just about everything. Being scientist by my background and training in Physics, itâ€™s just so incredible how the entire world ties together into this tiny, little mathematical equations.
Julie Davis: I know, I never understand how people can say science and faith or completely separate, a lot of Atheist will fall back on that. Like folded hands with fingers intertwined, itâ€™s the same way for popular culture and old culture in faith, itâ€™s meant to be under everything. Weâ€™re not meant to have to sit around and pray all day about it. Although contemplatives do, and thatâ€™s wonderful because thereâ€™s a place for that. Itâ€™s not my place, clearly my place is out here.
Chris Cash: But I think most of us are called to be in the world, but maybe not be of the world. So you have to be able to put all of these popular culture stuff into the right context to make sure â€“ as you say, we stay in the world but not of the world and follow what God is calling us to do.
Julie Davis: Right, to have proper sense of perspective, which is actually the definition of humility. A lot of people think you have to lie down and be like a dormant, never take any credit. Of course you as a Catholic know that thatâ€™s not really true, the Catholic way is to say, â€œItâ€™s to understand Iâ€™m not so good at this. Please God and other people in my life, I am really good at this. Thank you God for giving me a gift for that, I will hard try to use it the best way I can.â€ Thatâ€™s through humility, and we do that with the world around us then that helps ground us too in where weâ€™re supposed to be and how weâ€™re supposed to live. I guess thatâ€™s what a lot of these essays reflect is that sort of way of thinking, thereâ€™s so many things out there that show us a little bit of God that bring us back to him.
Chris Cash: I think some of our listeners are going to want to know about what brought you to the point of writing this book. I mean obviously youâ€™re an aficionado of quotes, been collecting and using them for many years. Did you have a pile of favorites that you started from? What got you along the lines of putting this book together in the first place?
Julie Davis: I have about six quote journals right now; Iâ€™m working on number six. I keep thinking Iâ€™m going to run out quotes that I need to write down, but somehow I donâ€™t.
Chris Cash: People just keep saying things.
Julie Davis: Thatâ€™s crazy, and they keep having a new perspective on them. Thatâ€™s true, itâ€™s almost like itâ€™s infinite. So what I would do is I would use those quotes every day on the blog. I started off doing it once a week and then I said this is never going to get through them in time, I need to share these more. What would happen is over time various people would write or comment and say, â€œWow, we wish youâ€™d put this together into a book.â€ I kept thinking nothing sounds more â€“ not boring because itâ€™s already been done, there are lots of books or quotes. Then about that same time people also started saying, â€œWell, other bloggers have written books. Have you written a book or do you have one in mind or are you working on something?â€ Iâ€™d sad book is so much hard work.
Chris Cash: Writing books is scary.
Julie Davis: Yes, why write a book? Iâ€™m happy here on the blog, thatâ€™s not my thing. Then a particular friend, she and I kind of connect on a level, somehow when she need special prayers thatâ€™s when I suddenly turn up in her life and vice versa. We kind of listen to each other more in terms of God might be using that person to tell us something even though we donâ€™t think of it ourselves when weâ€™re talking. So she turned around one day to me and said, â€œWhen are you writing that book?â€ I went, â€œWhat?â€ because she doesnâ€™t even really read my blog. She says, â€œIsnâ€™t that what youâ€™re supposed to do next, write a book?â€ I was like, â€œI tell you what, Iâ€™ll pray about that.â€
So I did, and I finally said â€œI got nothing God, you are going to have to make it so obvious.â€ Very soon after that, Cindy Cavnar from Servant Books wrote to me and said, â€œYou know what, I think you can actually write a pretty good book. Letâ€™s talk about it.â€ So the more we talked about it, she really wanted to see Happy Catholic commentâ€™s on things and I said, â€œThe only thing I can think of is this…â€ She was like, â€œThat would be perfect.â€ She also had a similar feeling as a lot of people do, like you. Quotes are great and everything, but we need to know how to live in a world with everything. That was hopefully the aspect I brought of it, how do you relate those kind of pieces of truth to living an everyday life.
Chris Cash: So, was writing the book harder than you thought it would be or much easier?
Julie Davis: Actually, it was both. One was I had to have the discipline to everyday write some of it, and like most Americans discipline is not really my favorite thing. But what I would up doing is going to daily mass, and as the good, old ladies in the back would sit and say the rosary together after mass I would sit in front of the tabernacle and start writing. That would turn into the Genesis of an essay or two. I did that over a period of five or six months maybe. I had originally thought I could sit down, work eight hours a day and get all these reflections done, and what it turned into was actually a more thoughtful process of as I was living my life that started being reflected.
During that time I was going through Lent, which of course is interesting for everyone always. My father die, and all sorts of different significant things happened that I might not have necessarily reflected on in terms of saying, â€œWell, everybody my father died.â€ But what happened is thinking about all those aspects of life, as well as the good things that happened along that time, all wound up in this book. It reflected a lot of that. Then the easier thing was I was used to sitting down and having a discipline of writing something of what I was thinking most days because of the blog. So at least I wasnâ€™t afraid of the actual writing part, it was just the making myself sit down and properly target toward what is it that this says to me and what is it that other people may also get out of it.
Chris Cash: As youâ€™re starting place, did you start pulling random quotes out of your old journals?
Julie Davis: My favorite quotes. My guidelines were set at 150 essays, and so I wound up with 149 in there; one or two, there just wasnâ€™t room. But I probably had about 300 and then had to cut back. So I was just trying to get the ones that really spoke to me the most.
Chris Cash: So there werenâ€™t any that got left on the editing floor that you were just really disappointed that I didnâ€™t make it in.
Julie Davis: Not really. There was one essay that I really liked that it would have been nice to have the picture with it that prompted it. There were just room for the essay in general, and so what I did was I put that on the blog.
Chris Cash: Which is the great thing about blogging.
Julie Davis: Isnâ€™t it? If you look on Happy Catholic, I have links there for the book, you can find that one essay with the picture. So it worked out that it didnâ€™t make it in because then the picture could go in.
Chris Cash: Did you build that as â€œthis didnâ€™t make it in the book and itâ€™s good, so just think about whatâ€™s in the book.â€
Julie Davis: I did, but I did say there wasnâ€™t room, plus the picture wouldnâ€™t have looked very good because it would have to be black and white. So I think that was the way it was supposed to be. Itâ€™s funny when I look through this book, it reflects so many things that have to do with television. I didnâ€™t realize how much television I have watched in my lifetime.
Chris Cash: Are you a heavy television-watcher until now, thatâ€™s your big vice?
Julie Davis: I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s a vice because itâ€™s something that I tape everything that we watch, and we donâ€™t have cable. So if we want to watch stuff thatâ€™s not on the regular channels then Iâ€™m going to have to buy or rent the DVD. But because we can tape things on DVR or whatever, we may sit down on a Friday night, itâ€™s our family TV night and watch four to five hours of television at once. So I guess you could say we could be considered heavy TV-watchers. Is that heavy, what do you think?
Chris Cash: Four to five hours in a week, probably not.
Julie Davis: Then a movie on Saturday. Yes, maybe not.
Chris Cash: I think average household is like 20 or so.
Julie Davis: Then I guess weâ€™re just extremely choosy about it.
Chris Cash: Thatâ€™s kind of how I am too, Iâ€™m very choosy about what I watch. I donâ€™t like the TV on even because itâ€™s too much of a distraction from all the other things Iâ€™m trying to get done.
Julie Davis: We have ours in the backroom where thereâ€™s a couch and all that kind of stuff back there. But we only are back there and only to watch TV, so itâ€™s only on when people are back there watching television. So itâ€™s kind of handy that way.
Chris Cash: I wish I could make that happen in my house, but with six other people running around and flipping every set on as they walk by, Iâ€™ve got that attention deficit thing where if I look at it I look at watch 10 minutes later and go I just wasted 10 minutes.
Julie Davis: I know. Well, thatâ€™s the Internet for me except I look up and go, â€œAn hour, what happened?â€ I have to set timers for myself. We only have one television for one thing and always have only had one television. Itâ€™s always been in a public place of some sort, and when the kids were little they didnâ€™t watch television that one of us didnâ€™t sit down and watch with them. So I would tape shows for them off of public TV or whatever and we would sit down. When they come home from school, weâ€™d have that half hour of I guess detox period or break period. Theyâ€™d have a snack, weâ€™d watch half an hour of television, and then no more television until the next day.
Then on the weekends they could have an hour or two, and we didnâ€™t have to be there all the time because we would know what they were watching because it was on a public area, which is also kind of how we handled the computer when they got old enough. We had one public computer, and that was before laptops â€“ thatâ€™s how long ago it was â€“ and it would be in a public area also so we could always see what everybody was doing. They had their various games they played but they werenâ€™t on the Internet. Well, that wasnâ€™t available that much then, but they didnâ€™t have account like of any sort, they didnâ€™t have e-mail addresses.
In that way it was funny because we were rather restrictive. But itâ€™s that thing of discerning what is important. This much is important, playing this game is fine, and thatâ€™s why I have never understood the people who have to say, â€œIâ€™m going to get rid of my TV,â€ unless itâ€™s an addictive problem I suppose. You have to be in the culture, otherwise how can you talk to anybody whoâ€™s not. It doesnâ€™t mean you have to watch the really gross stuff or TMZ or the gossip mongering. But if you havenâ€™t watched any television, how are you going to relate to regular people who might need to hear what a Christian has to say about everyday life, that theyâ€™re normal.
Chris Cash: Very good points. Like you said earlier, some of us are called to be contemplatives and to stay away from that, especially if itâ€™s something that would cause you to sin. But certainly there is value in knowing whatâ€™s going on in the culture around you, from standpoint of at least understanding what somebodyâ€™s talking about when they mention the Housewives of such and such county, whatever the popular shows are right now.
Julie Davis: Yes, and thatâ€™s a good point because I havenâ€™t seen any of those, but they permeated the culture enough that I have seen spoofs of them or caricatures of those sorts of characters on different TV shows I watch, like Bones did one like that which I do watch. So, I know enough, you donâ€™t have to immerse yourself in something thatâ€™s distasteful to know whatâ€™s out there. But you have to at least be able to relate to it.
Youâ€™re probably like this, I mean thereâ€™s all kinds of people that you deal with. My daughters would bring friends home, and a bunch of them are Atheist. How am I going to talk to them and not just be that Catholic mother who just sits in a corner and prays, which is what they would think otherwise if I canâ€™t speak up and talk about it.
Chris Cash: We are starting to run down on the time here.
Julie Davis: Iâ€™m sorry.
Chris Cash: Thatâ€™s no problem. Hopefully our listeners have enjoyed having a chance to hear about what Julie thinks before they read the book. Are there any really favorite parts of the book youâ€™d like to share just to give us a taste of what weâ€™ll find when we open it up?
Julie Davis: Iâ€™ve got a huge section of Jurassic Park, one of my favorite books. It took me so long to cut it down to the point where it would fit and still make sense because it makes wonderful points about chaos in the world. Iâ€™m not sure if thatâ€™s what you mean though.
Chris Cash: Iâ€™m just trying to get a flavor besides just saying you got the Augustine quotes and Futurama quotes.
Julie Davis: Yes, I see what youâ€™re saying.
Chris Cash: Iâ€™ve got an example here from the talk sheet that you publisher sent over, the reflection from Alice Cooper that says, â€œTrashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, thatâ€™s rebellion.â€
Julie Davis: Yes. Youâ€™re right, those are the kind I like a lot. For example, if itâ€™s reading quotes you want, I have a couple.
Chris Cash: I better be careful about getting you started.
Julie Davis: I know. See, youâ€™ll never get rid of me. The one you mentioned, the Futurama one, itâ€™s the kind that I think people might look at and go, â€œOh my gosh, they have God as the character, theyâ€™re going to be so disrespectful.â€ The point is that Godâ€™s talking to the robot whoâ€™d been kind of put in charge of being a God of a little universe, and he found out it was horribly difficult. God says, â€œBender, being God isnâ€™t easy. If you do too much people get dependent on you, and if you do nothing they lose hope. You have to use a light touch like a safecracker or a pickpocket.â€ Bender says, â€œOr a guy who burns down the bar for the insurance money.â€ God says, â€œYes, if he makes it look like an electrical thing. If you do things right people wonâ€™t be sure youâ€™ve done anything at all.â€
The point of the whole show was the whole show was God helping nudge people towards where they needed to be. Now, how often do you find that on popular TV? You would think never, and I just love that fact that God was using â€œmake it look like an electrical thing.â€
Chris Cash: It kind of reminds me of the one episode of Drew Carey that I saw where he was thinking about his desire for children and they lined up all the potential children he would have. The last one comes by and says, â€œI was the one who was going to take care of you when you went into the home.â€
Julie Davis: Yes, exactly. There was a whole one on King of the Hill, and I canâ€™t find it right at this second, but basically the son Booby is joining a really hip Christian group and theyâ€™re busy singing songs and getting tattoos and having rock concerts. Hank makes a point at the end, he goes, â€œYes, thatâ€™s whatâ€™s cool right now.â€ But later on you pack all the stuff up and you put it in a box, he goes, â€œI donâ€™t want you to label God so much like this that you put him in a box later. Heâ€™s bigger than that.â€ That was the point of the whole show, and so youâ€™re just like, â€œWow.â€
Chris Cash: Exactly, when those really profound moments come in the popular culture. Itâ€™s just completely unexpected, especially the way sitcoms and stuff are done today.
Julie Davis: One of my favorite directors is Josh Whedon who did Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly; heâ€™s now doing movies and things. But even though he calls himself a humanist and an atheist, because he understands the power of stories so much â€“ weâ€™re hardwired to love story, in which I believe is from God because how did Jesus talk to use all the time, is by telling stories.
But youâ€™ll find moments in Firefly, which is one of my favorites, this guy who was a monk left the abbey to go see the world and see what good he can do, and his name is Book. He says, â€œIâ€™ve been out of the abbey two days. Iâ€™ve beaten a lawman senseless, Iâ€™ve fallen in with criminals, Iâ€™ve watched the captain shoot the man I swore to protect, and Iâ€™m not even sure I think he was wrong.â€ Inara, another person in the spaceship says, â€œShepherd.â€ Then he says, â€œI think Iâ€™m on the wrong ship.â€ Inara says, â€œMaybe, or maybe youâ€™re exactly where you ought to be.â€
You canâ€™t do everything knowing the big picture. All those little steps that seemed wrong were the things that basically showed he needed to be there, they needed someone like that. He was being called to save the day and they looked like failures, but he wound up being an influential member of that crew who changed their minds about things. Thatâ€™s also not stuff you see all the time.
Chris Cash: Youâ€™re right. Julie, it has been a hoot getting the chance to talk with you.
Julie Davis: Well, I enjoyed it.
Chris Cash: Is there anything else you want to share with our listeners before we head off?
Julie Davis: Come by the blog and you can find some more excerpts of the book there.
Chris Cash: Join in the conversation too.
Julie Davis: Yes. Do you have a forum there at Catholic Company?
Chris Cash: We donâ€™t have a forum, we have a Facebook page thatâ€™s become quote popular.
Julie Davis: I think thatâ€™s what I was thinking of.
Chris Cash: Weâ€™re over 11,000 fans now and growing every week.
Julie Davis: Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s what I was thinking of. Iâ€™m sorry I tend to start getting places mixed up after awhile. But yes, go there and look for â€“ well, I guess not sample of the book, but I would be curious to hear what people think of it aside from doing a standard review which is what really would be good, good or bad.
Chris Cash: Youâ€™ve got several copies in the Catholic Company reviewer program. So I know you got one back so far as of the time of this recording. But I think youâ€™re going to get four or five more hopefully in next few weeks.
Julie Davis: That actually does make me think of something that I had been really please with, itâ€™s God uses things and ways that you donâ€™t expect when youâ€™re working on it, as you know. I had been so pleased to see people saying that they thought this book would be good for teenagers or young adults who are struggling with how you live what is thought of as the â€œCatholic faithâ€ versus a real life out in pop culture. Iâ€™ve seen several people who have told me theyâ€™ve bought copies to give people for confirmation presents.
There was one person who said he had kids in their early 20â€™s who had left the church, but he was going to send them copies because he thought it showed with a light enough touch but a faithful enough touch how you could connect. Thatâ€™s not something Iâ€™d meant it to do, but Iâ€™m so pleased to hear that it could be that way. I have a heart for those people, I understand. â€œWhat culture tells you the church is not what the church is,â€ as Fulton Sheen said, â€œOnly a hundred people out of a thousand know what it really is and can complain, the rest of them are complaining about something they donâ€™t understand.â€ So if this helps that, Iâ€™m extra happy, my smile would be bigger.
Chris Cash: On that note, thank you so much Julie for coming on the show. Everybody out there, make sure you go out right now, pick up a copy of Happy Catholic, the book. Go visit Happy Catholic the blog and be sure to give Julie some encouragement. Sheâ€™s got 149 quotes into this one. As she mentioned earlier, thereâ€™re another 151 left that we might see in the future edition.
Julie Davis: Well, I guess if enough people ask for it I would have to sit down in front of that tabernacle again and think about it and start writing.
Chris Cash: Alright, so there you go, that is your mission in life right now. Buy the book and hound Julie until she pulls out the other 151 quotes to finish off the two volume set, which was obviously pre-ordained to beat.
Julie Davis: I guess the publisher has to listen to that.
Chris Cash: Well, yes, maybe Bender will help. Have a great day and God bless everybody.
Julie Davis: Thanks.
Transcript of Interview with Julie Davis about Happy Catholic – the blog and the book. This interview and others like it can be found at http://www.catholicspotlight.com
Listen Now to the audio version of the show.
Happy Catholic is available at The Catholic Company.