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“A Small Lamp Set on the Walls”
James Paul Old

This issue is my last as editor of The Cresset. During my eleven years in this position, fifty-six issues have been completed, but I can take credit for so little of the work that has been done in this time. I have had the immense pleasure and honor of working with hundreds of thoughtful writers who have contributed essays, columns, and poems; dozens of talented Valpo undergraduates who have served ably as Assistant Editors and Office Managers; and the many, many members of the Valpo faculty and staff whose efforts make this journal possible. Of all the wonderful things about this job, the many colleagues and friends I have made mean the most to me. To everyone who has helped in any way, thank you and please understand how proud I am of what we have done together.

Next fall, I will remain at Valparaiso University as a faculty member in the Depart­ment of Political Science and International Relations. The announcement of the next editor will be made soon after this issue is released, so please keep a close eye on our social media accounts—facebook.com/thecresset and @cressetjournal on Twitter—for that news.

The Trinity 2016 issue begins with an essay from John Ruff, who served as The Cresset’s Poetry Editor during the first six years of my editorship (and for several years before that). In “Ecce Homo—Behold the Man: Photographs by Virgil DiBiase,” John introduces us to a photographer who takes time to establish a relationship with each of his subjects before taking his or her picture. His subjects are often people we would avoid if we saw them walking toward us on the street, but DiBiase nudges us out of our comfort zones and helps us see beauty and dignity where we least expect it. (Fans of photography will also enjoy Gregory Maher’s “The Industrial Vernacular” on Gary Cialdella, a photographer who chronicles the social, industrial, and architectural history of Northwest Indiana).

In “Chicken Eight Ways,” Amy Peterson tells a story you might have heard before—a story about moving to the countryside, starting a farm, and beginning a new life—but in Peterson’s telling the story is as much about death and decay as about life and renewal. She realizes that in coming to know animals that she will someday kill and consume she learns something about her own humanity and about a God who loves all creatures great and small.

And in “Education on the Way to Emmaus,” Peter Dula reflects on Luke 24:13–24, when the disciples fail to recognize the risen Christ. For Dula, this story about meeting a stranger on the road teaches us to be prepared to embrace the unknown and unexpected when we meet them and to bravely offer our own strangeness to the world.

These three essays show us new ways of seeing and knowing the world: how to find dignity in the downtrodden, to recognize individuality in the commoditized, to glimpse the face of Christ in a stranger. They teach us to look beyond the surface of things to find beauty that is hidden from the casual observer. In the inaugural issue of The Cresset, founding editor O. P. Kretzmann described the journal as “a small lamp set on the walls of the Church to find things of value in the surrounding darkness…” From that first issue, this journal has always been a place where Christian scholarship and wisdom engage with the ideas and culture of the world. We look at the world, and we say—in the words of the Apostle Paul—“if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” In my time as editor, I hope that you have found some things in these pages to think on, and when I remember all the fine people who have helped me and who will keep up this good work in the future, I am certain there will be much more to think on in issues to come.

 

—JPO

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