As I was putting this issue together, I noticed that it was numbered Vol. 135 no. 2. That means The New Age has been produced for 135 years and the first issue rolled off the press or the quill pen in 1883… before many of our grandparents were even born. In 1883 the Krakatoa volcano erupted killing 40,000; Sydney Grammar School opened; ‘Treasure Island’ got published; Clement Attlee and Benito Mussolini were born while Richard Wagner and Karl Marx died, and Louis Waterman began experiments to invent the first fountain pen.
But Google doesn’t tell us that the first issue of The New Age came into being that same year. I believe the very first issue is still available somewhere like the Swedenborg Centre. I imagine it came about for very much the same reasons that The New Age still gets produced: to give people a sermon to think about and hopefully help them in their lives; to hear about other New Church activities around the island of Australia (Federation would be 18 years later!); to review new books; to encourage articles and not least to provide another reason for feeling we all belong together.
Today we can put an issue of The New Age together in a few hours plus a few emails. Back then, there would be long waits to receive handwritten or typed contributions (manual typewriters were the state-of-the-art technology in the 1880s), then the printing (yes, letters A-Z were individually set in type-blocks) and the posting (colonial posting unity was only 10 years old in 1883).
It is a miracle and a mark of people’s dedication that The New Age took off and continued on. Today it is not a miracle and the ease of production doesn’t ask for much dedication. I think the main lesson of looking back at anything is for us not to take anything for granted because everything we have has come about and evolved through ink, ingenuity, trial and often, failure. Now, read on…