Here in the Midwest, there are signs that winter is around the corner. On the nightly news, TV meteorologists (in a less high-tech era, known simply as weather forecasters) issue frost warnings and remind us to cover the plants. Weeks before theyve retired the Halloween paraphernalia, retailers start devoting prime floor space to Christmas merchandise, announcing, with due political correctness, that not-to-be-missed Holiday Sale! on everything from car batteries to pet products.
At NCR, were having conversations about the Christmas cover and Advent reflection series. And even though its only October, were actually late in doing that. Christmas, it seems, comes earlier each year.
I have always loved Christmas. Ill admit that as Ive grown older, Ive come to mightily dislike the commercialization that makes it difficult to make any connection between the birth of Jesus and Madison Avenue merchandising. But even that cant put a damper on Christmas. I especially look forward to the rich, powerful scripture readings that begin in Advent. This year in particular, with the world poised darkly on the brink of war and a church numbed by dark deeds that shame us all, the promise of Isaiah 9:1 seems more needed than ever: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone.
We at NCR are privileged to play a small part in spreading that light -- sometimes the task is simply to help people remember that the light, now of hope, now of faith, exists.
The cynics might say there is nothing lightsome about the news business, with stories of scandals and exposés, news that often cannot be even remotely considered good. But we believe that one of a journalists tasks is precisely to shine the light into the dark corners, ultimately so that truth and change and good can result.
Through the years, NCR readers have become valuable partners with us in that task. While well refrain from the Holiday Sale! pitch lamented above, we do ask you to think of National Catholic Reporter as youre preparing your gift list. In fact, to make it easier for you to do that, weve prepared a colorful and informative wrap around this issue. We have a loyal reader base, but we know there are many folks out there who havent discovered NCR and others who would appreciate a gift subscription: seniors on fixed income, college students away from home, grown children youd like to help reconnect to the Catholic scene, a favorite priest or religious. With an NCR gift subscription you can help keep the light shining all year long.
NCR readers will be pleased to know that Tom Roberts bypass surgery was successful and that hes mending well. His wife, Sally, reports that the doctors are happy with Toms progress -- and were happy to hear and pass along that good news. Were also bringing Tom the many cards, get-well wishes and promises of prayer that arrive daily in the newsroom. You can send him greetings at: National Catholic Reporter, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City MO 64111.
And if youre missing Tom in this space, check out his letter on the inside of the wrap around this issue!
-- Pat Morrison
My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
National Catholic Reporter, October 25, 2002