(Perhaps) the Most Important Ask of My Life
David R. Weiss – February 27, 2019
Usually on my blog I post my reflections, whether inward or outward, set here for your consideration. Today I’m writing directly to YOU.
Some of you have followed my blog since I launched it a decade ago. Several of you have subscribed just in the last month or two. However long you’ve been with, thanks for listening in as I put words on the sparks that fly across the gray matter in my mind. Now I’m going to ask you—if you can—to put some money out in support of those sparks.
I’ve launched a Patreon website to help fund my thinking and writing for years to come. In this blog post I’ll explain why I’m doing this, what changes, and how you can support me in this endeavor.
In a word: nothing. My blog posts will remain public and available (free) to everyone who comes to my website. This is partly a theological conviction: my theology is grace-driven—grounded in the GIFT character of God’s love—and I want my work to reflect that as clearly as possible. That’s important to say because most persons who use Patreon as a way to fund their work use a “transactional” model where paid support gets you quicker or more extensive access to what someone produces. That’s a very legitimate choice for most persons, and it has a certain pull even on me (my groceries, utilities, mortgage all operate transactionally—I only access what I pay for), but I intend to continue blogging as gift. It feels like the right choice for me even as it’s a risky one.
On the other hand: everything changes. Maybe. To the extent that the support for my work comes forward from you and from new followers, I’ll be able to devote more time to thinking and writing about the things that matter most to me … to the church … and to the wider world. Patreon offers me the possibility to do this work more faithfully and more fervently than I’ve ever been able to in my entire life.
Why—and why now?
For a host of reasons I’ve never found a real match between paid employment and inner gifts. I’m not going to review those reasons here (I’ve blogged about them several times in the past years). I’m not going apologize for missed opportunities or getting distracted by good work that fell short of being vocation—or for work that has been vocational but not economically sustainable. I’m here to ask for support as I do the work that calls out to me now … and likely for the rest of my life. I hope you’ll step up and be there with me. But if not, you’re still welcome to keep reading as I chart this new course. Maybe my work will draw you further in as it goes along.
My vocation goal is toward public theology—thinking out loud about God and the deepest sources of meaning in our lives as they intersect with the issues of today. Thinking, writing, speaking, teaching. For a large season of my life (about 20 years) that call focused foremost around welcome to LGBTQ persons. In recent years, without leaving that work behind, I’ve felt pulled strongly to the challenge of climate change and imagining how Christian (and other) communities can faithfully respond. I expect this work will last me for the next 20 years. Climate change isn’t going anywhere (except in the direction of worse), so, quite frankly, I expect I’ll be doing this work until I lose my life, my mind, or my faith. I’m in for the long haul.
I hope to do more public speaking again, and I won’t turn down college teaching opportunities (although they’ve been rare of late)—so long as they’re also opportunities to deepen my own work. But at age 59, I’m interested in summoning all my energy, insights, all gifts, into doing work that really matters. And, if I can garner even a modest stream of steady income from Patreon, it will enable me to do this. Not selfishly, but as a way to honor a call which has always been about linking my work to the wider world. I hope as the reach of my work extends others will want to support it as well. But as I begin this adventure, I need the support of those who have already seen what I can do, and are willing to support me in doing more, with fresh energy and deeper focus. Which is why I’m reaching out to you as my first circle of support.
So, how can you support me?
Like many online fundraising sites, Patreon offers a secure platform for people to make financial pledges to help fund my work. Unlike nearly every other such site, Patreon only processes ongoing monthly sustaining pledges. It doesn’t accept one-time gifts. It’s a way for artists and writers to cultivate “sustaining members.” Patrons (potentially YOU) create an account, put in your credit card information, and select a level of monthly support from as little as $2/month on up to whatever you can imagine. (I have one passionate supporter who has pledged $50/month(!) although most of my first pledges are in the $5-$7/month range.) Patreon bundles together the whole range of small, medium, and large pledges—allowing everyone to give a level of monthly support that is meaningful and doable for them—and I get one monthly support payment from Patreon that can actually help make my work sustainable.
Several people have asked if they can simply make a one-time or an annual gift because for one reason or another that works best for them. No … and yes. You can’t make a one-time or annual gift via Patreon; that’s not how their model is set up. And, honestly, supporting me through Patreon offers me the steadiest stream of income. However, because this work matters so much to me, I’ll gratefully accept any support you offer. In that case, you’ll need to send a check or PayPal gift directly to me. I’ll deposit these gifts into an account where I draw on them monthly like the rest of my Patreon funds. Email me for details: drw59mn(at)gmail.com.
So, here’s the big question: WILL YOU JOIN WITH ME IN THIS ADVENTURE OF “COMMUNITY SUPPORTED THEOLOGY”? I believe this is where I am called to be in this moment. With your pledge you help affirm that call.
Here’s the link to Patreon. You can read my full pitch there, or go directly to the “Become a Patron” button in the upper right of the page.
Lao-Tzu is credited with the wisdom, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” For me, this is that step. However you choose to walk with me in the months and years ahead, THANK YOU.