Confessions of a Lonely Editor


Over the last decade, declining magazine subscription trends have forced Alliance Life and its readers to endure some painful sacrifices. Shrinking revenues caused budget cuts, staff downsizing and page reductions that have resulted in the elimination of some of the magazine’s beloved features.

A number of readers have expressed regret for the discontinuation of things that once appeared in our “thicker” days. Some lament the loss of the in-depth Bible study and regular children’s feature; some miss the religious news and book reviews; others, the photos of new workers and extended obituaries of Alliance family members who committed their living days to His service. And so do we. Every month.

Believe it or not, however, the feature I miss most is the “Readers Letters” section. It’s not that I’m lonely or bored; I’m not in desperate need of more pen pals or Facebook friends, and I’m certainly not looking to add to my already overstuffed inboxes (plastic and digital). But I do miss hearing from alife readers.

Years ago, before I worked for this magazine, I would flip to “Readers Letters” as soon as I received my new issue. I was amazed at the insights, amused by the perspectives and (sometimes) frustrated by what seemed at the time to be some overly critical and often petty articulations about things that, to me, weren’t worth the ink. I remember saying out loud at least once, “Oh, grow up!” But every month I would turn to this section fi rst because I needed to know what other Alliance people were thinking and feeling about what they were seeing and hearing.

Now that I’m debatably more mature and have taken my watch as editor, I have grown to appreciate these diverse expressions for two reasons. First, I have come to realize that the reader’s voice helps to guide the writer’s pen. Without your input we’re forced to guess about the things that encourage, enlighten, impassion, grieve, annoy or anger you. Even a well-placed “Oh, grow up!” is better than nothing.

Second, and much more important: We are family. There are times in my household when everyone retreats to their corners and keeps to themselves. And that’s okay. We all need space from time to time. But prolonged isolation often brings about conflict, insecurity and confusion in our family. We emerge from our guarded airspaces with magnified and conflicting agendas and appetites. Each of us wonders why there’s tension and what we may have done to cause it. We eventually forget about the things that bind us and focus on the things that divide us.

But then there’s the dinner table, our sacred place of shared experience. It’s here that we give and receive our daily updates—triumphs, tragedies, enlightenments and embarrassments. We laugh, learn, tease, pray, weep, comfort and encourage. We are delighted by the qualities that define us as individuals and are rejuvenated by the experiences that unite us as a family. And the more we interact, the less we interfere.

One of my greatest treasures in being part of the Alliance family has been sharing in the experiences of my Alliance siblings down the hall, three states over or halfway around the world. My journey has deepened and my heart has softened because we stay in touch. So here’s my confession: I’m really not that lonely after all and never plan to be. You can mangle my manuscripts or iPummel my iPod—but don’t cut the cable to my Alliance kin.

In this issue you’ll be encouraged and captivated by several dinner table stories from your cousins about the hope Alliance camping ministries are bringing to our world. At the end of every feature you’ll notice a statement that reads, “Have an opinion about this article? Express it at www.alliancelife.org.” If you’re moved by these stories—or have one of your own (perhaps a Mahaffey moment or a Beulah beauty)—please take the opportunity to share it. It’s easy, endearing and enduring. And it’s what keeps families together.

Peter Burgo

PS: About alife online . . . I realize there’s no substitute for the portability and practicality of a printed magazine. You can take it anywhere, any time. You can pass it on to whomever you want. You can even swat a fl y or level a rickety table with it. And you don’t have to plug it in. But don’t miss the benefits of the online version of this magazine. In addition to being able to express your views on any story, you’ll read special online exclusives that don’t appear in print; access past issues (all the way back to 1882!); search for articles by topic, theme or author; view select features in Spanish and much more. Simply visit www.alliancelife.org on a computer near you. Keep in touch!

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