July 12, 2010

Funeral for a Friend: My Note to The Living Church

Tonight I was going through the mail and found a come-on subscription-renewal notice from The Living Church. They said I could have it mailed ($45) or get it online (PDF, $25) for a year. A two-year subscription in the mail would come at the deeply discounted price of $85. (That's a whopping 5.6% markdown - or, if you like, about a dime per issue.)

I folded the notice so the blank side would be exposed, and on that square I wrote:

Dear Living Church,

I have watched as you cast your lot, and as your writer, advertiser, and subscriber base gradually defected and your product became less and less. No one is sorrier than I. My congregation will continue to subscribe to your other products, but the news in our house will go on without you. No more subscription-renewal notices are needed.

Thank you.
This is a poor publication that used to be a source in our house for conversation, debate, and information. It has long since desiccated beyond any discernible use, and is coolly received, quickly thumbed through, and all too easily dispatched to the recycling bin.

For years we knew TLC probably entertained, on that famed spectrum, a rightward sensibility; but that didn't keep it out of the fight. Now it has succumbed to the ideological factionalism of the same party of four (who know who they are), and is, at best, an in-house woolgathering device. Predictably, it arrives thinner and thinner each time, having us imagine we'll enjoy reading about news we've known for weeks or see a job listing for the rectorship of a church in a diocese that's left the conversation table.

I miss the robustness of this instrument; I miss its former ethos of many-facets-of-one-truth. I miss following the conversations as they unfolded, and peeking at the job listings (you know, just to see). I miss everything that once made TLC more than worth the cost of admission.

The thought of taking bread off the tables of the employees of The Living Church is so disheartening, but I fear committing anything else out of my penny-pinched rector's education account might only encourage the effort to further dissociate this news organ from The Episcopal Church. And this after well more than a century.

Very sorry indeed.


NEXT DAY THOUGHT: Today I read Douglas LeBlanc's excellent coverage in The Living Church online concerning the Bishop Davis situation out of Northwestern Pennsylvania. More of this sort of thing is what could help resurrect this very worthy project.


Jeff W. Fisher said...

Torey - You can create a more lucrative business than TLC by copying your response onto stickers that we can purchase from you - for us all to put on our renewal notices.
Sign me as:
Another subscriber who is very sorry indeed.


Torey, Well said. I used to subscribe to TLC, too, but gave it up some time ago, because it ceased to bring me the news.

The Rev. Torey Lightcap said...

@Jeff and @Lelanda, thanks for your remarks. Some will say that a print publication can't possibly keep up with the Internet (heck, just Twitter), but in this case that's less than half the story. Thanks for your remarks.