from the editor in chief
Contents: July/August 2002
Daniel J. McClain, 1947-2002
Since the expanded UU World supplanted the old World magazine two years ago, the one-page feature called "Parables" has established itself in my mind as the spiritual and artistic centerpiece of this magazine. The twelfth parable appears on page 13 of this issue and, tragically, it will be the last.
"Parables" was an expression of the artistic talent and religious sensibility of Daniel J. McClain, the magazine design consultant who created the UU World logo, selected fresh typefaces, and established the new look of this magazine and then took up the challenge of creating the "Parables" page. Daniel also struggled for years with depression. On May 9 he took his own life.
Daniel was one of the nation's top magazine designers, and his loss is being mourned by editors of many distinguished magazines that have been improved by his magic. In his studio in Bremen, Maine, are two Ellies, the small Calder stabiles that represent National Magazine Awards, the magazine world's equivalent of Pulitzer Prizes or Oscars. Daniel was modest enough that not even the materials he created to promote his consulting practice mention this.
Daniel's love of nature drew him to work on magazines like Audubon, Oceans, Archaeology, Field and Stream, and The Sciences, among the more than twenty-five whose looks he created. As a spiritual seeker with a twenty-year Zen practice and an openness to the spirit from all sources, he was also drawn to religious magazines like ours. He was not a Unitarian Universalist, but he was as devoted as any UU could be to UU World's mission of helping our readers build and live their faith.
As part of Daniel's Zen practice, he created assemblages to express the result of his reflections on koans, the short, enigmatic statements that Zen teachers give their students to contemplate. On a visit to Daniel's studio as we were working to create the magazine's new look, I was captivated by the koan assemblages hanging on his walls. We discussed whether something similar could be fashioned into a feature for this magazine and decided that while koans might be unfamiliar to many UUs, parables were not. Given that Unitarian Universalism draws on so many sources, assemblages that present parables as fine art seemed like an opportunity to honor religious ideas that might otherwise not find their way into the magazine very often.
Never have I encountered anyone who achieved a deeper sense of a magazine's spirit than Daniel. From our first conversations about what UU World should be, Daniel got it. He was a huge help as the new magazine took shape, and he continued as a trusted adviser as well as the creator of "Parables." His spirit has suffused the magazine, and it will live on in its pages.
Daniel turned 55 a week before he died. His survivors include his wife Kim, a son, a daughter, and a stepson, all in their twenties, and a granddaughter. May his spirit be at peace.
Editor in Chief