We live in a sound-bite age. Rhetoric often replaces reason. Considered judgments often yield to the pressure for quick reactions. Serious moral reasoning often gets short shrift in our public discussions. Public Discourse seeks to fill this vacuum. We make use of the new forums for communication that modern technology provides, but we don’t let them undermine the quality of our thinking. We draw on some of the academy’s best scholars, making their years of study and expertise available and accessible to a broader community, but we don’t get bogged down in technicalities and academic jargon. We can do this, because at the Witherspoon Institute we have created a community of distinguished scholars from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. Public Discourse brings these voices to the public. And we don’t shy away from the most controversial of questions, convinced that careful reasoning can settle many of the challenges before us.
We are not a Journal. We are not a Blog. Our aim is to provide a venue where readers can find out what our associated scholars are thinking about or working on—whether in their own academic scholarship or in informed commentary on contemporary events. Our hope is that by benefiting from these scholars’ perspectives, readers will be better equipped to form their own.
I think we’ve been pretty successful. Consider just a handful of our articles from the past two months:
Helen Alvaré on “The White House and Sexualityism”
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on “Building a Culture of Religious Freedom”
Robert Oscar Lopez on “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View”
Robert P. George on “Marriage, Religious Liberty, and the ‘Grand Bargain’”
John P. Londregan on “Immigration: He Who Is Without Sin”
When we launched we were publishing two articles a week. A year or so later we moved to three articles. Then, this time last year, we started publishing an article every weekday.
Our contributors—thoughtful, intelligent, insightful—have made Public Discourse the forum we first envisioned for our readers. While we don’t pay them much, we do compensate them for their time and effort in writing for us.
And our editorial team has been top-notch. Over the past four years, several excellent managing editors have worked for Public Discourse: First Matthew Schmitz (now deputy editor of First Things), then Lauren Wilson (now managing editor of First Things), and most recently Octavia Ratiu (who will begin graduate studies this week). Starting next week we welcome Gabrielle Speach, recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame, to the managing editor spot. Young editors need to eat, so we try to pay them a living wage.
We must also meet the costs of maintaining the website, the e-mailing program, and several other technologies that make online publications thrive.
These efforts don’t require too much money, but they do require some. If you enjoy reading these articles and would like to help support the success of Public Discourse, please consider making a donation to our publisher, the Witherspoon Institute. You can do so here; please include a note marking it for Public Discourse.
Public Discourse won’t be publishing this week, as we’ll be taking some much-needed rest.
Ryan T. Anderson is Editor of Public Discourse.