One of my tasks as the Century’s online-editorial intern is to archive past issues on the website. It can be tedious, but it’s also quite fascinating to see various subjects develop in the magazine’s pages over time. At this point I’ve worked back as far as Christmas 1998, meaning the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal is front and center. I was 11 when that happened; I know the present-day Clinton everyone loves much better than the 1998 Clinton no one knew what to do with.
But by far the highlight is reading Martin Marty’s old columns.
I'm the web editor in these here parts, and my morning routine includes checking a variety of sources for hits on the phrase "Christian century." This works better for us than it does for Time but worse than it does for Timothy McSweneey's Quarterly Concern: most of the links are indeed about us, but not all of them.
I'm afraid I fell down on the blog a little this week. My excuse: I spent most of the week at the annual convention held by the Associated Church Press, an association of religious publishers of which the Century is a member and for which I serve on the board. It was a good gathering: interesting keynotes, useful workshops, plentiful fellowship.
About 15 years
ago I was a guest at the annual meeting of theAssociation of Christians Teaching Sociology. In one session a professor reported on a
student's project. Taking the Century as a barometer of mainline Protestantism and Christianity Today as a barometer of evangelicalism, his student
compared the respective responses to the civil rights movement. The student
found that the Century was very hospitable toward the movement and that CT was critical of
it. (Full disclosure: At the time of this ACTS meeting, I was working for
Since ACTS is comprised
largely of evangelical scholars, there was some hanging of heads in the room.
Evangelicals, they agreed, had been on the wrong side of history, not to speak
of the wrong side of justice.
Institutions, like individuals, go through passages and need rites for them. We do not often talk about the inner life of the Christian Century, but when we have an editorial change, it seems right to observe the passage.