Column: To boldly go where . . . let me rephrase that

by Father Mark Goldasich

“No changing!” Perhaps these words came out of my mouth a bit more forcefully than I’d intended, judging from the look on Leaven managing editor Anita McSorley’s face.

We were in the drive-thru lane at Wendy’s during a lunch hour, and I had just placed our order. Anita then decided that she wanted something different and asked me to change the order that I’d just given. That’s what triggered my comment above. Logically, Anita explained that, as paying customers, we were entitled to get whatever we really wanted.

It made sense . . . but still I made her shout the order change from her place in the passenger seat into the intercom.

I thought about that Wendy’s incident as the discussions for the redesign of The Leaven and its Web site were getting started several months ago. Apparently, my staff, too, thought of it, as I was kept on the fringes as the details were hammered out! So, in many ways, this paper is as much a surprise to me as it is to you.

My “no changing” personality is probably not so unusual. Most people enjoy the comfort of familiar things over the risks and uncertainty of change. There’s a word — probably more than one, I’m sure — for people like me, the “no changers.” Especially when it comes to the printed word, I am a confirmed Luddite. That special term stems from Ned Ludd, a 19th-century Englishman who destroyed new labor-saving textile equipment in the mistaken notion that its use would diminish employment opportunities.

Its more general meaning today is “one who is opposed to technical or technological change.” Yup, that’s me. In some sense, I can’t help it. I enjoy retrieving the newspaper from the driveway in the morning, scanning its contents at my pace and discretion, and working the crossword puzzle and the Jumble with a good, old-fashioned pen. I still balance my checkbook by hand, write cards and letters longhand, and do proofreading of the Leaven on a hard copy rather than on the computer screen.

Nothing gets my dander up faster than hearing someone say that printed books and newspapers are relics of the past.

And yet, while saying this, I have to confess an aggravating gift of mine: the ability to argue, convincingly and passionately, both sides of an issue. Having just revealed my Luddite streak, I now need to confess to also being “a gadget freak.” I own and use and love my laptop, my iPod and iPhone, my Nintendo Wii and DS, and my Kindle (Amazon’s portable, wireless reading device). I shop online, communicate by e-mail and texting, use online bill pay, and take photos with a digital camera. And I have no desire to ever return to the pre-computer days of producing a newspaper.

So, where does that leave me? Well, conflicted. I’m comfortable with the old, yet both leery of and excited by the new. If you haven’t already done so, turn to pages 8 and 9 to see in detail what’s in store for Leaven readers. Note, though, that we are a work-in-progress, especially with regard to all the Web stuff. Since we’re learning as we go, please be patient.

By the same token, don’t worry about us slacking off on the printed edition of The Leaven. We intend to continue to deliver a quality, award-winning, engaging, fresh, reader-friendly, and educational product each issue, to the best of our ability.

This Luddite will see to that!

 

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