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Hallo again to all.

s the secular year draws to an end, we've received a steady stream of renewal notices for some our favourite printed publications. Though much of what we read is online either entirely or in part, we do still enjoy the chance to sit with a dead-tree periodical, the tangibility and layout of which can often be pleasing in its own inimitable way. We're thankful that the journals and magazines we take haven't dropped us yet, and we'll endeavour to send in our renewals in the near term.

For all the variety and high quality of the reading material we rejoice to see in our postal mailbox, we were surprised to draw a blank while pondering recently whether there is any active publication for Anglican children and young adults. Our thoughts arose in conjunction with the coincidence of renewal notices and the chance discovery at a jumble sale of a tattered old bound volume of The Standard Bearer from 1853. On opening this book and paging through a few articles, we were amazed to see just how well its content has aged. There are some small exceptions, and the language itself has an air of recent antiquity; but for the most part we wouldn't mind sharing our copy of this monthly with a 12-year-old friend—or, indeed, reading it regularly ourselves. The Standard Bearer offers poems by and about children; short sermons about how to live well with one's parents and peers; historical articles; lively stories about how children live in faraway places; factual pieces about animals and their care; paragraphs here and there about the latest machines; and a regular guide to reading the daily Mattins lections appointed by the Book of Common Prayer. The pages of The Standard Bearer make a strong case for us that though much about life has changed, the interests of young readers are fairly constant through the centuries. By contrast, church periodicals and websites today seem certain to repel as well as bore younger readers—some through no fault of their own, and others through what appears to be a concerted effort against wholesomeness and accessibility.

ASome of the durability of The Standard Bearer comes undoubtedly from the consistency of essential faith taught in Anglicanism between 1853 and 2008. The gap of 155 years has not changed the 'one Lord, one faith and one baptism' proclaimed on its pages and known by us today 'in the breaking of bread and in the prayers'. But The Standard Bearer strikes a note of authenticity and usefulness today as it must have in its first run also because it takes its young readers seriously: seriously as intelligent young people created in the image and likeness of God, and seriously as a part of the church in need of its own attention, reading materials, efforts and directed care.

Among all the issues confronting Anglican churches in their respective local environments today, we're quite sure that one of the least-covered and most important is the way in which we will serve and equip children in safe, stimulating, encouraging and godly paths during the coming years. We do not have the energy or expertise ourselves to strike out on a new mission to publish an Anglican children's periodical, but we're sure that someone who is reading this does have such wherewithal. It may take the form of a website in addition to or instead of an old-fashioned periodical, but we think it's probably best for it to be the sort of thing modern-day children could fold, roll, carry and smudge with jam much as their predecessors did long ago with our exciting find.

Our ability to be today an active link in handing on the faith we live and know depends critically on whether we can provide such a jam-smudgeable resource. We have as a community long sustained websites and print periodicals for every conceivable ecclesiopolitical orientation, as well as learned journals and newspapers in their dozens. Some redirection of that energy is surely in order, and we think its likelihood of producing light rather than heat to be fairly certain.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 9 December 2007 (Second Sunday in Advent)

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