Nonetheless, my vision for Christian Courier hinges on hope. I am hopeful about this paper’s future and its mission.
My friend David does not like The Giving Tree. You remember Shel Silverstein’s classic children’s picture book about a boy and a talking tree who gives him everything: leaves, apples, branches and finally her trunk. Some people see this relationship as a beautiful example of unconditional love and selfless giving. The book has sold more than five million copies worldwide and ranks near the top of every “100 Greatest Books for Kids” lists.
David still hates it. “In his unfulfilled quest for happiness,” he explains, “the boy exploits the tree to the point of completely ruining it. The tree is so desperate for his company that she encourages it.”
I think he makes an excellent point. The book should perhaps be titled The Greedy Boy instead.
This spring we began a Christian Courier donation campaign called Rooted & Growing. The name came from a brainstorming session in late February. Our tree concept was nothing like Silverstein’s. It has to do with reciprocity. CC is a unique publication for two reasons: its loyal, long-time subscribers and its tribe of new contributors. There is both stability and (modest) growth. Graphic designer Naomi Francois created a beautiful logo to illustrate this. We envisioned three stages for the campaign: plant, grow, harvest. We introduced the donation drive in these pages in April, and began the first-ever CC art contest on the theme.
And you responded! This relationship is not one-way.
Donations, often with a note of thanks tacked on, started arriving in a small but steady stream and continue coming in. Amazing works of art in over a dozen different styles were entered in the contest – did you see them in the beautiful August 28 issue? Thank you again to those artists for sharing your incredible gifts. Thank you to our donors whose generosity sustain CC, extending like roots two or three times further than the eye can see. Thank you to our tribe sharing CC articles online, where they travel great distances quickly and lightly – like maple leaf spinners on a gusty day.
By streams of water
There was some weird weather across Canada during this donation campaign. The area where I live received 705mm (27.7 inches) of rain from April to July, compared to 291mm on average and last year’s pitiful 160mm. While rainfall records were broken in Ontario and Quebec, parts of New Brunswick experienced an unusually-high 27 days of heavy fog, and fast-moving wildfires swept across a hot and dry British Columbia – third worst in the province’s history.
The creek near our house grew to triple its size and then receded. In some spots the earth eroded, exposing tree roots. All in all, it’s been a rough year for trees – even those with deep roots. You can draw the parallels to CC in an unpredictable publishing climate yourself.
Nonetheless, my vision for Christian Courier hinges on hope. I am hopeful about this paper’s future and its mission. We have a choice, with every issue: to showcase the results of sin or of God’s redemption. I decided nine years ago that we don’t need any help finding shadows in the world. In fact, shadows stalk each one of us. Sooner or later we all travel through days that are pretty dark. Who wants skepticism then? What good is a gloomy article in that moment? There is already so much brokenness. Does it need to be on page 1?
It takes no effort at all to be cynical. To hack a tree down. To see only problems. And sometimes those problems need to be called out – that’s important too. The church is a gathering of regular people who make mistakes.
But they also do a whole heap of cool stuff. It’s not one or the other – it’s both. And I choose the hard work of finding that balance. Of planting, watering and harvesting ideas. By reading Christian Courier, and by helping us reach the campaign goal by the end of this month, you make the same choice.
My friend Mel recommended A Book of Uncommon Prayer this summer. Imagine my delight to find in it a Prayer for Publishers of Christian Magazines & Newspapers! Maybe you will join us in this way too: in prayer. “That [Editors] remain eager and challenging and creative,” author Brian Doyle prays, “that they keep biting and kicking for ways to keep their budget going so they can indeed catch and share stories that matter so much more than the celebrity natter and scandal babble that crowds our media with its shrill tinny empty flash and gleam; and that they do not lose heart, but remember that they too are apostles and disciples on the road, carrying a message of crucial import, and that every heart they hit is, in a real sense, a soul on the road to be saved.”