I am tired of pretending that we want to hang out at the country club and eat cucumber sandwiches in fancy hats. We are not some sort of upper-crust elite society. Now, it's time to discard that tired label that ties us too closely with a particular race and class. It's time to call forth another name.
It has become cliché to note that we live in a world of information overload. Being cliché, of course, does not make it any less true. We professors are well aware of our inability to keep up with the fantastic production of new knowledge in our own specialties, yet the torrent of words overwhelms not only scholars but all readers. Who can possibly read all the books, magazines, journals, newspapers, blogs, tweets and posts worth reading? And what is worth reading, anyway?
This deluge is often ascribed to the digital revolution, and indeed the internet and pervasive connectivity have greatly expanded our reading options. Nevertheless, the historically minded will recognize in our current situation merely the ongoing ripples of earlier information revolutions.
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.