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Inside NCR

Not so much a newspaper, more a way of life

Every year around this time we make bold to suggest that our readers give NCR as a Christmas gift to family, friends or others you wish to convert to the good life.

We who work to bring the National Catholic Reporter into existence every week never quite get used to hearing how much our readers love the paper and how dependent they become on it. Subscribers buttonhole us at conferences or other gatherings to tell us, in effect, that for them NCR is more a way of life than something to read.

A natural consequence of this is that many subscribers give NCR subscriptions as gifts. We, of course, can’t understand why you would want to give anything else as a gift! Sure, on the day, Uncle Joe might prefer a sweater, and cousin Jane might prefer that smelly stuff in a fancy bottle, and the humble little NCR gift card doesn’t look all that impressive, but later on your friends will see how right you were to give NCR. Week after week for a whole year they will be reminded of you when the paper arrives in the mail.

There is no need to remind readers of the good stuff that will be in the paper, from the big picture of our one-and-only lives in the world, to the latest church developments good or dubious, to spirituality for our times, to poetry and personalities, to columns and letters from our fiercely opinionated readers. (And, let’s face it, you weren’t going to give Uncle Joe an expensive sweater in any case, but more likely a tie, having given him gloves three years in a row.)

I suppose people are always saying they live in interesting times, but it’s a little truer just now. The world is too big and complicated to change overnight, but sometimes it does shudder and shake itself up and move to a different plane. The new millennium is only in the mind. But what if the human mind, which has created so much good and mediocre stuff up to now — what if this thing we’re creating day by day, this construct which is our lives and our world, what if it were to strike us with awe when we look ahead at the possibilities, what if we were to take a new leap at the good, the true and the beautiful?

A new millennium will soon be followed by a new pontificate. Right now there is an aura of waiting, anticipation. A new pope, whoever he may be, will bring a terrific urgency to the church, a rush of excitement. A billion Catholics will be waiting to hear how he will lead us into the future in a church that can still be new in the new millennium.

On the occasion of Thanksgiving, we always skip an issue of the paper. And we always remind readers that we are doing so — except this past issue, when we simply forgot. So please don’t feel bereft that your paper did not arrive; the paper that did not arrive does not exist.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, December 3, 1999