Sudden change, even if it is for the good, is disruptive. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister, Malaysia
Its the place where Ive met many a blind date, a place to nervously page through newspapers and magazines as I wait for a mystery woman to show up. Its the place to meet my Goddaughter for dinner, as I take the T in from the burbs and she strolls over from the yard. Its the place I rarely shop anymore but a place whose presence, sure and steady, strong and true, right in the heart of Cambridges Harvard Square its a place that I will miss when it closes up shop at the end of next month.
Its Out of Town News, a purveyor of all things journalistic: newspaper broad sheets and tabloids from all over the United States and the world, a seller of hundreds of magazines, everything from "Popular Mechanics" to "Playboy." The place to buy a map if you are a tourist, cigarettes if you are smoker, or a Coke to slake your thirst on a hot summer day.
First built as a subway entrance in 1927, in 1954 it opened its narrow doors for business in a squat brown building that sits at the busiest intersection in the square. For 65 years its sold the news, from near and far. Like New York Citys Grand Central Station clock, Out of Town News is a place that most everyone knows, easily recognizable and an absolute perfect landmark to meet.
But on Oct. 31, unless some last-minute Halloween miracle saves this venerated institution, it will go away, the building staying, but the business shuttered for good. It wasnt a zoning problem that closed Out of Town News, nor sky-high rent. Cambridge, which owns the building, is planning to renovate that piece of valuable real estate, and the current owner of the store has said he will not renew the lease.
Yet beyond this seemingly simple business decision, what really killed Out of Town News is me, and you, and millions of other folks who still consume the news, read the news, follow the news but now do so through our screens. Who needs actual physical containers for the news made of paper and ink when with a tap on a smartphone or computer mouse we can get the news and so much faster and more up to date and all so conveniently?
The fancy term for this type of social shift is disruptive innovation. Though the entrepreneurs who create and exploit such innovation in 2019 think Amazon, Uber, or Google might imagine they are the pioneers of such disruption, the truth is that disruptive change has been going on forever. Its hard-baked into the human condition. God gave us brains to think and so we do just that and we constantly build upon the innovation and creations of the past to move into tomorrow.
So, the horse and buggy were killed by the car. The telegram was killed by the telephone. The movies killed burlesque and then TV was supposed to kill the movies but now Netflix just might kill both the movies and cable TV. Facebook and other social media are radically reshaping how community is formed and so even the place I work, a church, a 2,000 plus year old institution we are being radically disrupted too.
I will miss Out of Town News. Miss the visceral feel of the printed page as I flip through a magazine or newspaper. I still miss the black ink that used to stain my hands as a newspaper boy in Springfield, Massachusetts, so, so long ago.
But the economy, all of life: it does not run on nostalgia, on looking backwards, on staying put. We cannot return to an era when America was supposedly great because that is not the way that time or the human experience works. We humans are a restless lot, created by a God who gives us the power to think, to change, to grow, to innovate and to reach for the stars.
Along that path, as we shift from one way of doing things to another, it can be hard to bid farewell to the familiar and the comfortable and the known. But the truth is that innovation and disruption happen, and not just because some vague outside force wrenches us into the future.
Disruption happens because of us. Factories in the United States close not just because of corporate greed. They close because we demand cheaper consumer goods. Clothes that cost as little as possible. Appliances so inexpensive that when they break, we just throw them away. We demand the news: not a day late, not on a 24-hour timer, but now- right now!
We dont buy the news at Out of Town News anymore.
And thats a shame. And thats reality. And thats good and thats bad and thats the way this amazing world works. As to a new place to meet my blind dates: any suggestions?
The Rev. John F. Hudson is senior pastor of the Pilgrim Church, United Church of Christ, in Sherborn (pilgrimsherborn.org). If you have a word or idea youd like defined in a future column or have comments, please send them to email@example.com or in care of the Press (Dover-Sherborn@wickedlocal.com).
- David Nichtern on Spirituality and Making a Buck - Lion's Roar - January 30th, 2020
- Spiritual festival curated to bring world together in peace, love and harmony - Hindustan Times - January 30th, 2020
- The Ark brings shelter to those in spiritual need - Kern Valley Sun - January 30th, 2020
- 'Satanic wombs': the outlandish world of Trump's spiritual adviser - The Guardian - January 30th, 2020
- An Unexpected Spiritual Balm - Word and Way - January 30th, 2020
- Actors asked to find a spirituality for new Belfry production - Peninsula News Review - January 30th, 2020
- Spiritual Sounds unites a world of faiths in the East Village - amNY - January 30th, 2020
- What on Earth is wrong with Paula White, Trump's spiritual guru? - Washington Examiner - January 30th, 2020
- According to Trump's Spiritual Advisor It's Apparently Okay to Ask God to Terminate Pregnancies as Long as They're Satanic - Jezebel - January 30th, 2020
- Senior thesis Five Flights grapples with spiritual identity - Kenyon Collegian - January 30th, 2020
- Jefferson Award winner is a spiritual healer that attracts people from all over the country - WXOW.com - January 30th, 2020
- CITIZEN COLUMNIST: The value of discernment and spiritual discernment - SCNow - January 30th, 2020
- Spiritually Speaking: Jim Lehrer: To live a life of integrity - Wicked Local Sharon - January 30th, 2020
- The 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz: Returning in Spiritual Triumph - Yated.com - January 30th, 2020
- Trump's Spiritual Advisor Comes Out in Favor of Abortion - Patheos - January 30th, 2020
- Ganga yatra to invoke spirituality, focus on need to clean river - Hindustan Times - January 30th, 2020
- Tend to spiritual needs too - Bryan County News - January 30th, 2020
- I never meditated, would rather be a criminal than spiritual: Ma Anand Sheela - India Today - January 30th, 2020
- We put Jen Aniston and Gwyneth's spirituality gurus to the test - Marie Claire - January 25th, 2020
- On matters biblical, spiritual belief, and marital in the land of matoke - Daily Nation - January 25th, 2020
- Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Spring 2020 - Publishers Weekly - January 25th, 2020
- Spiritual book proposes that we should nurture our souls as we would a garden -- with love and tenderness - Benzinga - January 25th, 2020
- Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: February 2020 - Publishers Weekly - January 25th, 2020
- Getting spiritual: the real essence of yoga - The Age - January 25th, 2020
- Spiritual Intervention for Crime Prevention? - The Voice St. Lucia - January 25th, 2020
- 6 Bishops on Their Favorite Saints, Spirituality - National Catholic Register - January 25th, 2020
- The spiritual poet - The News on Sunday - January 25th, 2020
- Is the Spiritual Realm more Real than the Natural? Brad Jersak | Brad Jersak - Patheos - January 25th, 2020
- Terry Crews says intermittent fasting is his fitness secret but he's actually doing it for spiritual reasons - Yahoo Entertainment - January 25th, 2020
- The role of scriptures on the spiritual path - The Navhind Times - January 25th, 2020
- Undiluted Catholicism: what the Amazon really needs - Catholic Herald Online - January 25th, 2020
- Review: 'Babette's Feast' a warmhearted exploration of the spiritual and the sensual at Lamb's Players - The San Diego Union-Tribune - January 25th, 2020
- GRHS graduate using platform to write about spiritual themes - The Glen Rose Reporter - January 25th, 2020
- Abortion is socially sanctioned, sovereignly offensive and spiritually sinful | Guestview - Pensacola News Journal - January 25th, 2020
- Material achievements and spiritual perfections - Centurion Rekord - January 25th, 2020
- Pastor's 'spiritual DNA' will live on - Impartial Reporter - January 25th, 2020
- The theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence - Sumter Item - January 25th, 2020
- Why "Business Meets Spirituality" Is an Important Leadership Trend For 2020 - Thrive Global - January 19th, 2020
- The Fall of Spirituality: The Blood-Soaked History of the Cathars - Ancient Origins - January 19th, 2020
- In this art gallery, conversations about religion and spirituality are welcome - The Oakland Press - January 19th, 2020
- A Spirituality of Aging: Deepening our Wisdom Years - CatholicPhilly.com - January 19th, 2020
- Spirituality and values in the Disney universe - Evangelical Focus - January 19th, 2020
- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s spiritual influence remembered in Steubenville | News, Sports, Jobs - The Steubenville Herald-Star - January 19th, 2020
- 5 Reasons to jumpstart your spiritual reading in 2020 - Aleteia EN - January 19th, 2020
- Big Freedia Will Bring Bounce Tunes, Spiritual Experience When She Takes the Stage at Paper Tiger - San Antonio Current - January 19th, 2020
- Meaningful Conversations Chapel Hill looks for the spiritual basis of forgiveness - The Daily Tar Heel - January 19th, 2020
- Liverpool players spiritual preparations and how club respectfully honours faith behind the scenes - Liverpool Echo - January 19th, 2020
- Local Cantors are 'The Spiritual Caretakers of the Congregation' - The Jewish News - January 19th, 2020
- The 12 Best Mayan Sites to See in Guatemala - Fodor's Travel - January 19th, 2020
- Father beat children secluded on Ruinerwold farm with "spiritual sword": Report - NL Times - January 19th, 2020
- SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: What will your legacy be? - Wicked Local - January 19th, 2020
- The Ummah Chroma to Launch Spiritual & Meditative Installation at Het Nieuwe Instituut - HYPEBEAST - January 19th, 2020
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Pray for the president's spiritual aligning with Scripture - Anniston Star - January 19th, 2020
- Spiritually Speaking: 2020 vision for the New Year | Eden Prairie Opinion - SW News Media - January 19th, 2020
- The Shepherd and the Shrink | Dexter duo launches podcast combing spirituality and psychology - thesuntimesnews.com - January 12th, 2020
- Spirituality Has Long Been Erased From Art History. Heres Why Its Having a Resurgence Today - artnet News - January 12th, 2020
- Expert says medical professionals need better training on spiritual care - Crux: Covering all things Catholic - January 12th, 2020
- Its possible to be spiritual without following religious practices - Hindustan Times - January 12th, 2020
- Religion and Spirituality Book Deals: January 8, 2020 - Publishers Weekly - January 12th, 2020
- The history of scientists dismissing spiritual experiences - The Week Magazine - January 12th, 2020
- Spiritual New Year's resolutions - The News Star - January 12th, 2020
- Dubais Demand for Niche Spiritual Retreats on the Rise - Skift - January 12th, 2020
- Spiritual Medium Yesenia Berbiar Aims To Heal Hearts By Connecting With Departed Family Members - KHTS Radio - January 12th, 2020
- Spiritual editorial: Last year in the rear view mirror - NorthcentralPa.com - January 12th, 2020
- Spiritual Alphabet Soup of Death and Dying - Thrive Global - January 12th, 2020
- KEEPING THE FAITH: Local spiritual leaders respond to recent national violence - Evening News and Tribune - January 12th, 2020
- Faith and Values: Look outward for spiritual growth in the new year - The Spokesman-Review - January 12th, 2020
- GOD SQUAD: Spiritual New Years resolutions - CTPost - January 12th, 2020
- Bill Tinsley: Develop a physically and spiritually healthy heart - StarNewsOnline.com - January 12th, 2020
- Czech out Svickova Na Smetane and get spiritual about bread: this week's food events in Eastern Iowa - The Gazette - January 12th, 2020
- The spiritual meaning of the word - magviral - January 12th, 2020
- I have faced the roughest time in my spiritual walk, Rose Muhando - The Standard - January 12th, 2020
- Blackbird, Regnum Christi, and the Legacy of Spiritual Abuse - Patheos - January 12th, 2020
- Music And Spirituality At 'Rising Song' Event - Jewish Week - January 5th, 2020
- Divine grace found in messiness of imperfect life - Times Colonist - January 5th, 2020
- Shamanism in Nepal: Inside the practices and spiritual world of Jhakri - The Independent - January 5th, 2020
- The three most important walks of existence: spirituality, relationships, and career success | By Judith Nwadigo - Qwenu! - January 5th, 2020
- Oddity is an Earthbound spiritual successor that used to be a fan sequel - PC Gamer - January 5th, 2020
- GUEST COLUMN: The spiritual pleasure (and poetry) of flowers - Wicked Local - January 5th, 2020
- Mother Teresa's former spiritual advisor accused of raping boy more than 1000 times - LGBTQ Nation - January 5th, 2020