5.02.2013

In Celebration of the Century

I've been having, by my standards, a glamorous day: this morning I caught the Metra into the city for a meeting at the offices of the Christian Century. I've been privileged to be part of an informal clergy group that's been meeting to talk about the Century and its strengths and weaknesses and role as the flagship publication of the mainline church. Today's meeting was the culmination of the project, but the first at the office, the first with the editors.

Even though I've written nineteen (!) articles for the Century - mostly online, but a few for print publication, too - and even though I've met most of the editors in other contexts, I was totally geeking out about this meeting. Indeed, I instagrammed a picture of their main entrance. I was too chicken to get close enough for a good shot and instead stood back and pretended to be checking something on my iPad. And then during introductions, I was so nervous I am fairly sure people thought I was either totally over-caffeinated or just plain socially inept.

The Christian Century is, as far as I'm concerned, it. I've always been a magazine lover. I even spent one semester as a magazine journalism major before retreating back to the liberal arts of English and Religion. I started reading the Century occasionally during seminary, and mailing in my subscription postcard was literally one of the first things I did when I started my first call. I read a lot of stuff, but I don't know that there is any other print source that has had a more formative effect on me than the Christian Century. It is my guide for pastoral ministry, and the reason it is so good at doing this is that it does not actually try to be a guide for pastoral ministry. Rather, it publishes articles about all sorts of things - food and politics and theology and lectionary commentaries and poetry and interesting books and so on and so forth - all of which are part of life in the church, life as a pastor, because we are generalists. I don't know if I would have grasped the wonderfully long intellectual leash I have as a pastor if not for the guidance of this magazine.

I don't know how helpful it is for one of the consulting clergy members to simply gush, but that's how I roll. When I love something, I love something, and I love the Christian Century. But even more importantly, I trust it. I, who occasionally have issues with authority, can be a fiercely loyal person when I encounter good authority.

Count me in as a lifetime subscriber.

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