The Cresset and the Valparaiso University community suffered a sad loss this past July with the passing of Prof. John Steven Paul. “JSP” was a member of the Cresset’s Advisory Board, a regular contributor to these pages, and one of the finest colleagues you could ever hope for. Through his tireless service and remarkable gifts, he served this university in many roles, including Professor of Theatre, Chair of the Faculty Senate, Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, and Director of the Soul Purpose liturgical drama troupe.
When the terrible news began to spread, the entire community was stunned. JSP was so young and full of life. His work at this university was important in too many ways for us to lose him. We could hardly imagine what our campus gatherings would be like without his generous character, cheerful hospitality, and unfailing smile.
A few days later, the university community came together in the Chapel of the Resurrection. (Another service was held more recently, after classes began, so those who were away for the summer could join in the celebration of JSP’s life.) Provost Mark Schwehn and Prof. Fred Niedner spoke words that were beautiful and touching. A choir of over eighty voices led us in song. But more than anything else, I will remember looking around the chapel and seeing the faces of young men and women who had come from all over the country to join us that day. They were scholars, teachers, performers, and artists now serving countless other communities. Their presence made me realize that while JSP’s work meant so much to us at Valparaiso University, his legacy reaches far beyond our campus.
In this issue, we are pleased to be able to present one last piece by JSP: “Soaring, Avian Marginalia” (page 15) as performed on 17 October 2008 during ceremonies for the inauguration of the university’s new president. The work was performed by active and alumni members of Soul Purpose, a group of young people in which he took great pride. JSP sent this piece to me last spring and asked if it might be included in the Trinity issue, which commemorated both the University’s 150th anniversary and President Heckler’s inauguration. By the time he sent it to me, the issue was nearly complete and the pages were full. So we bring it to you now, in remembrance of a colleague who will be missed and whose good work lives on.
Thirteen years have passed since The Cresset’s last major redesign. The old look was tweaked now and then, but the Trinity 2009 issue looked much like the Michaelmas 1996 edition. The old design served us well for many years, but it was time to try something new.
Readers of The Cresset know that the real strength of this journal is the quality of work done by our writers. Our goal in the redesign process was simply to make their great work that much easier to get to. We’ve introduced a touch of color to the journal. That creates a little more visual interest, but, more importantly, the color will highlight design elements that make the journal more accessible and easier to navigate. The front-cover lists our feature essays more prominently, the reworked table of contents makes it easier to find your favorite columns, and the new page headers lend a more distinctive feel to each section and department.
We have worked hard to get this new look right, and we hope you find it to be an improvement. As always, your comments and concerns about these changes or anything else in the pages of The Cresset always will be appreciated.