from the editor
When a top job opened at UU World almost three years ago, my first call was to Rosemary Bray McNatt. Would she be interested in applying?
There was a pause at the other end. "I'd love to," she finally said, "but not now." McNatt had just received her Master of Divinity degree, was about to be ordained, and was in search of a pulpit; her goal was parish ministry, not still another magazine to add to her distinguished resume.
McNatt's editing career included Scholastic and Ms. magazines and five and a half years at The New York Times Book Review. She had also published a well received memoir, Unafraid of the Dark, and a biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aimed at nine- to twelve-year-old readers. Her religious credentials were also strong: Long before she started studying for the ministry at Drew Theological School in New Jersey, she had become a trustee of Starr King School for the Ministry, the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Berkeley, California, and by the time I called her about the UU World job she was president of its board.
McNatt did agree to take on a smaller yet formative role in reshaping the old World magazine into UU World. As the first minister on the masthead in more than a decade, she established two new features that distinguish UU World: the Reflections section, which sets the religious tone for each issue of the magazine, and UU Bookshelf, which reviews books of interest to Unitarian Universalists. McNatt gave up Reflections when she was called to the pulpit of the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City, but after two years she's holding tight to UU Bookshelf. "I can't imagine being alive and not reviewing books," she says.
No one's voice does more to set the tone for this magazine, and this issue shows still another aspect of it. Her theological essay "To Pray Without Apology" challenges white Unitarian Universalists to consider not only race but also theology when thinking about welcoming people of color to their congregations. It is a provocative and important piece, and I commend it to you.
Sadly, death has taken two revered people from our masthead, the extraordinary essayist Philip Simmons, who succumbed to the degenerative muscle disease ALS (see former editor David Reich's "In Memoriam," and Irene Greene, the magazine's dedicated circulation manager, who suffered from lung disease. In Irene's dozen years at the helm she spoke and corresponded with countless subscribers and church administrators as she kept the database up to date. She was comprehensively devoted to its accuracy and will be sorely missed.