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Archive for June 26th, 2006

This Fall will mark the tenth anniversary of the demise of Caelum et
Terra
.

Looking back, ten years on, from a somewhat altered perspective, having
experienced marriage, fatherhood, and a brush with death, there are things I
would do differently: a little more realism, perhaps, a bit less romanticism.
And I certainly wish I’d paid more attention to the neoconservatives’ global
political agenda instead of focusing solely on their nefarious attempt to
reorient Catholic social teaching, as crucial as that battle was and is.

All in all, though, our effort was a worthy one, and I believe that
Caelum et Terra has stood the test of time.

Every now and then someone asks me about reviving the magazine, and I
always firmly decline. It is a costly and time-consuming venture, to edit and
publish a journal. Granted, the results are much more rewarding than a weblog,
pale and shadowy substitute that it is: a journal is a real thing,
something you can hold in your hands and pass around. Too, it is far more
conducive to sustained thought: who can read a 3,000 word essay online? Not me;
I have to print it out on paper, have it in hand.

Not that the weblog doesn’t have its rewards. I generally enjoy the long
discussions that emerge and in general like the more interactive nature of this
medium.

But it is no journal. I remember the great sense of satisfaction I had when
finally I had a new issue in hand, fresh from the printer’s. This was a thing
unto itself, a piece of work, and a work of art. I viewed each issue like a
proud Papa.

The "blog" -ugly word- on the other hand is more like a stream of
consciousness, an abstraction lacking substance and texture.

It is, however, easy and inexpensive, requiring little real commitment,
sort of like shopping at Wal-Mart.

While I am in no place to resurrect Caelum et Terra, I do believe
the time has come to attempt to publish the best of the journal in the form of a
book, a Caelum et Terra Reader, if you will.

We have discussed doing this since I married and the journal no longer was
tenable, waiting only for the "fullness of time". In the intervening years a
book has been suggested- and sometimes urged- by many, most recently and
insistently by Bill Kauffman, to whom I recently sent several back issues.
Though he had heard of C&T,  he had never seen it, liked it very
much and said of a book: "It must be done".

I agree: the time is ripe.

It is a daunting task before us, though, and one I hope you all can assist
us in accomplishing.

First, I would appreciate suggestions. Which articles do you consider
indispensible for inclusion? Which art? Any ideas for format?

Secondly, I face the bewildering prospect of contacting everyone whose work
we would like to republish, some of whom I knew only as a manuscript arriving in
the mail, others with whom I have long lost touch.

As a first step to that end, if you are reading this and had an article
published, please contact me at dnichols721@yahoo.com  or po box 1494,
Wooster, OH, 44691 and let me know if you consent to our [potentially]
publishing it in book form.

As time goes on, we will no doubt post inquiries regarding particular
writers, hoping to locate  the lost through word of mouth before turning to more
sophisticated means of searching. And of course any volunteers for this or other
tasks would be appreciated.

Finally, please pray for this venture. Little of the content of the journal
was topical, most of what we published was timeless. A book is a good way to
introduce a whole new readership to Caelum et Terra.

The very first letter we published in our always entertaining and often
raucous Letters section was by the late Dr. John Senior, and contained the
following story:

An angel came to St. John of the Desert commanding him to spend his
life watering a dead stick. Day after day at Lauds he carried handfuls from the
trickle in the rocks he lived by when, on his hundredth birthday, it burst into
flowers and he died. A young man hearing the story emulated him. The angel
appeared commanding the same and on his hundredth birthday he simply died,
saying to a disappointed disciple, "We aren’t in it for the flowers".

We aren’t in for the flowers either, and there’s been no angel, but it may
well be time for Caelum et Terra  to reblossom.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Benedict and St. Francis, pray for us!

Daniel Nichols

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