A Nose-Worthy Issue

When the first note came, we chuckled. One of our loyal readers complained that her issue of the GLEANER smelled so bad she could hardly stand it. An isolated incident, we thought. At times we have struggled with poor spelling, but never bad smelling.

But then the next letter came, and the next. So, at the risk of admitting to something you, dear reader, may not have personally noticed, here are the facts: Our September, October and November issues of the GLEANER stunk. Literally. People were holding them at arm's length, hanging them out on clotheslines, hoping a dose of fresh air would improve the cachet. Scripture was quoted unceremoniously out of context as if a little known prophecy had come to pass: "Instead of a sweet savor, there shall be a stink..." (Isaiah 3:24)

We in the Northwest were not alone. Our sister publication to the south, the Pacific Union RECORDER, had also been visited by this scourge. My colleague there, Gerry Chudleigh, described how his wife went into the kitchen one morning and immediately noticed a foul odor. She emptied the trash, sanitized the trash can, scoured under the sink, cleaned the garbage disposal, all to no avail. She finally discovered that the smell was coming from the union magazine on the counter, so she put it in a plastic bag and dropped it out on the porch.

That didn't suffice for another saint who found a shovel, dug a hole in her back yard and buried the offending periodical.

Phone calls and e-mails hummed back and forth. In the mind's eye, one can almost enjoy the image of Pacific Press and union conference executives closeted in an upper room, their noses primed, sniffing doggedly through stacks of GLEANERS and RECORDERS, seeking the elusive source of the stink. Had our design team at MCM Design introduced a new "scratch and sniff" feature gone horribly awry? Was it the paper, the ink? Was it, we wondered, the quality of our writing which had sunk to a malodorous level? Or, as one regrettable Northwest slogan used to proclaim, was it "the water?"

At the point of calling in CSI, or hiring volunteers to baptize each GLEANER by immersion in cologne, repeated investigation provided our Pacific Press cohorts with a plausible answer. And, indeed, a practical solution was in place for the December issue which smelled non-offensively like...well, paper. Hallelujah!

So apologize to your dog. It wasn't him. It was us.

For the New Year, I offer you this freshly minted edition of the GLEANER, hoping that you will not be forced hereafter to choose between odor and info. We wish to reflect the sentiments of Paul's letter to the Philippians, whose "generous gifts were like sweet perfume—a fragrant offering, pleasing to God" (Phil. 4:18).

BTW...if you feel the GLEANER still needs better "circulation," you can reach me at talk@gleaneronline.org.

January 01, 2008 / Let's Talk