We, the founders of this journal, are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of the Church. And if you are like us you share this dissatisfaction: with the watered-down faith found in many of our parishes and schools as well as with the reaction, which seems to see the 1940s and ’50s as the golden age of Catholicism. We are appalled, too, by the domination of faith by politics, whether of the left or the right, and are weary of watching the struggle of a joyless “ain’t it awful” orthodoxy against a heterodoxy which seems intent not only on throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater but on smashing the bathtub as well. We are tired of these selective approaches to the Faith, both of which strike us as fundamentally assimilationist in nature. The whole Catholic, it seems to us, would not be a creature of the “right” or the “left” or even of the “center” but of the Transcendent, and would not consider the terms Catholic and radical or orthodox and prophetic to be mutually exclusive. . . .

What we are not interested in is debate about doctrinal orthodoxy or personal morality. The Church, in spite of the weakness of Her human members, is our Mother and Teacher. An attitude of fidelity will permeate these pages, but religious infighting is not the purpose of the magazine. To one side of the squabble we say: “on what foundation are you building?” and to the other: “So you’re orthodox. Now what?”

(Note that though it’s Catholic in voice & culture, this reads pretty coherently with Evangelical or Confessing Protestant inserted for Catholic.)

From the 1991 founding statement of long defunct small circulation journal Caelum et Terra. I’d read it before and was glad to have occasion today to read it again. It’s worth it to read the whole thing — here, at the journal’s founders’ still-ongoing blog.

“‘I can tell all our new customers by all the questions they asked,’ [Harford County farmers’ market seller Cindi] Umbarger said. ‘They asked about how our animals are housed. They asked about hormones and antibiotics. They asked about where our feed comes from.’”

The Sun offers a Baltimore-region picture of the surge this season in consumer interest in locally grown produce.

Baltimore’s primary newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, recently cut its daily comics section by four strips, effective this week. A few weeks ago, the paper offered an online survey in order to get the people’s judgment on the published strips. There were some thousand-plus responses, the paper reports. Presumably the survey results decided, or helped decide, the cuts.

Three of the strips cut I am happy to see go. They’re old storyline-type titles that were undoubtedly good examples of the strip form at one time, but that are now long since degenerated, in different ways, to an appalling state in both the writing and the drawing. (Other titles, among those retained, certainly could have been cut by the same reasoning. Not that I know what reasoning was applied, in fact, in making the cuts.)

But the editors didn’t cut from the bottom without also cutting from the top, taking away what I regard as one of the strips most to be prized — perhaps, I would even say, the best thing I know of being created for the comics pages today.

Here’s my brief response on the cut, emailed to the editors a little while ago:

You dumped some of the worst, strips that had declined years ago to an embarrassingly low level of staleness, or even simply to mere amateurishness. I applaud that.

But you also got rid of one of the very best! Bill Griffith’s Zippy is constantly fresh, constantly a reader’s intrigue & delight, constantly alive & engaging as graphic form — and all in spite of the severe limits the newspapers place on the comic strip format today. You ought to have held on to Zippy regardless of the poll results, simply because it is one of the enduring standards of artistic effort and meaningfulness for the comic strip genre in our time. [That sounds a little overblown, I know. How much cultural value do we really want to attribute to the funny pages, after all? But I meant it.]

Sure, I can still get the strip online, and I will. But it meant a lot to me that my city’s paper was an outlet for Griffith’s work. A comic strip is made for the newspaper, after all. And publishing Zippy seemed to me to be a way that The Sun said to its readers that despite market pressures it would seek to remain a reader’s newspaper.

Please consider finding some way to re-instate Zippy. Thank you.

(Complete coincidence, by the way, that the last post’s title is a phrase that comes to us from the Pinhead.)

Oh boy. Speaking of hot dog stands, novelty architecture, and ‘the ambition to transform all of life into a playground’ — have a glance at ‘Worship Centers Create Town Center Atmosphere’ in today’s edition of AIArchitect This Week.

Both Waldon Studios and Visioneering Studios have collaborated on several church projects around organized themes. The design is set in the context of the overall site plan, says Waldon. While Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., has a main street design, Heritage Christian Church in Fayetteville, Ga., is designed with the idea of the Georgia State Parks and includes a lake, Georgia Pines, and campground. The Northside Church in Texas actually suggests the wildness of Western towns in casual forms, almost like an old cowboy town, and is based on a crescent of trees.

In a story run in Sunday’s paper, Sun reporter Jill Rosen tells of her one-week experiment in car-free living. ‘I wanted to see if, in Baltimore, I could have the lifestyle of a Manhattanite, a Londoner or a Parisian. I would do everything I usually do, go everywhere I usually go, but without getting behind the wheel, taking taxis or begging rides from friends,’ she says. No surprise if the answer to her question seems to be Well, kind of.

I live three miles outside the city, incidentally, near Baltimore County’s boundary with neighboring Howard County. It’s a dense, semi-urban area, broadly speaking, and I can walk to a range of retail & services (with allowance for time). But there’s enormous difference between my surroundings and Rosen’s, even so. It’s likely that her full-reverse lifestyle experiment wouldn’t get off the ground around here, if her situation were that of the typical area resident.

Thanks for looking in on me. I’m at work again on the site. New inclinations & ideas, new tools. Please do check back.

This new site setup is a modfied version of a brilliant template developed by Vladimir Agafonkin for the site management package Textpattern.

— Paul