Have you found that your income doesn’t go as far as it used to? That your retirement accounts have shrunk or disappeared? Perhaps your job has disappeared as well. Do you worry about how you’re going to make it through this coming year, or this coming decade, or when you retire? In a world fraught with anxiety over diminishing resources, in which we hear alarming predictions of impending societal collapse, it is worth taking time to pull up a chair, sit down, take some deep breaths, and focus on what’s going well. Doing so is good for your health, both mental and physical. Focusing on the positive is a tremendous antidote (and it’s also a great motivator).
There’s certainly good news to share here at FRIENDS JOURNAL. In this issue, you will find an article written by Paul Buckley, sharing information from our 2008 Survey. Unlike years past, this time we surveyed not only JOURNAL readers, but also adult young Friends, and members and attenders of Friends meetings and churches who don’t subscribe or regularly see the JOURNAL. We have asked questions not just about the content of the magazine, but also about what kinds of service and material Friends and readers would like from us, and in what venues.The responses to these questions have been intriguing—and not necessarily what you’d expect! I’m very glad to report that our average reader has grown a little younger in the years since 2001, when we did our last survey. I’m also delighted to report that we are still being read across all the branches of Quakerism, providing a vehicle of communication that is not only international, but truly among Friends. The news becomes even more interesting, however, in that more than 1,000 of our paid subscriptions are to readers who do not now and may have never attended a Quaker meeting, which means that we are reaching a significant number of interested fellow-travelers as well as Friends or former Friends who have no access to a meeting community. Contrary to industry trends, our circulation is modestly growing (up 3.1 percent over last year), and the individuals and meetings that financially support us have given more this year than last (we’ll let you know if we make our budgeted numbers after the end of our fiscal year).
And there’s more! In this spring’s Associated Church Press Awards for our 2008 issues, our October 2008 issue on "Energy, Climate, and Building Community" won first place among 37 special theme issues. The judge, a journalist, said, "A tour de force of the possibilities and problematic dimensions of a simplifying, downsizing society. Articles provide a blend of homegrown and sophisticated discussion on working for change in residence and community, and are societal, global, and long-range in scope. Poetry adds texture and even torque to the conversations raised in prose features." The many contributors to that issue are to be congratulated! We also won two third-place awards: in Personal Experience, First-Person Account (Long Format) category for "Courageously Faithful: Bringing Peace to War" by Alaine D. Duncan in our November 2008 issue, and in Biographical Profile category for "Mary Fisher: Maidservant Turned Prophet" by Marcelle Martin in February 2008. Please affirm these authors for their excellent work. The Associated Church Press was founded in 1916 and is the oldest interdenominational press association in North America.
These are wonderful accomplishments with which we are very pleased. Yet the best good news is that we are blessed by the contributions—written, financial, donated time and talent—and prayers of so many. On the days when I’m tempted to give in to my fears of what the future may hold, it’s important for me to remember that God is in charge and miracles of all kinds happen all the time. Speaking as the (hopefully) reformed queen of catastrophic thinking, I’m very grateful that worry isn’t necessary or useful and that following our Guide is the only way to proceed.