No Time like the Present
Heather Grennan Gary

Over the summer, the Cresset office moved from Mueller Hall to Linwood House, just down the hill and across Valparaiso University’s Campus Drive South. This move came about a week after I started in my new job as editor—and right as I was in the midst of moving with my family from South Bend to Valparaiso. During that time, I felt like I was dashing from one upended, chaotic environment to another. In truth, I still feel far from settled.

But in some ways, I can’t think of a better time for an office move. Right away I got my hands on each issue of the Cresset going back decades. I shuffled through old subscription files and writers’ correspondence. I looked through shelves of reviewed books, notes from former student assistants, and photos of past editors. My gracious, insightful predecessor, James Old, spent several afternoons helping me sort through the office and pack up boxes, sharing stories all the while. Here was an old clock, engraved with the publication’s name and that of its first editor, O. P. Kretzmann. Here was a coatrack, rescued years ago from the now-razed Huegli Hall. A box in the corner contained X-Acto knives and Zip disks, remnants of past publishing technologies. These first weeks on the job included a rush of anecdotes and information that came with the packing and unpacking. I was grateful for the chance to learn ever more about the Cresset’s history and identity. It was a terrific way to start—but slightly terrifying, as well, because the deadline for this issue was just around the corner. One can only soak up so much history and identity before having to move ahead with the work at hand.

Not long after the office move, I was at church one Sunday morning, preoccupied with a long mental to-do list. One line from the gospel reading—a comment from Jesus to his disciples—broke through my mundane ponderings. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks” (Lk 12:35-36).

What first struck me about Jesus’ words was his phrase “have your lamps lit”: I instantly thought of “a small lamp set in the walls of the Church to find things of value in the surrounding darkness,” the image Kretzmann provided nearly 80 years ago to describe his vision for the Cresset.

But the second point that strikes me now is that the kind of watchfulness Jesus asks of his disciples has been a hallmark of the Cresset since its inception. Like the task of the servants in the parable, the task of this publication is to watch and make sense of what’s happening in the world around us, all the while being ready to answer the door at our master’s knock.

The writers in this issue do that. Their observations about Ordinary Time (page 4), food (page 9), Iceland (page 16), hearts (page 20), the election (pages 31, 35, 38), artificial intelligence (page 48), denominational meetings (page 54), and much, much more are examples of this kind of watchfulness. I hope that this issue is for you (as Kretzmann wrote in the November 1937 inaugural issue) “a place of perspective and coordination, where the dim confusion of jostling crowds and bewildering roads take shape and form and reason.”

It’s an honor to take the helm of the Cresset and join the long tradition of thoughtful, watchful commentary. As I get settled, I welcome your feedback and suggestions and stories; you can reach me anytime at heather.gary@valpo.edu.


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