Friday, November 29, 2013

Patronage: Being Intentional About our Cultural Investments

We've sent the Winter 2013 issue of Comment to press.  It will hit iPads in a couple of weeks and mailboxes soon thereafter.  It's another rich conversation with contributions by Mako Fujimura, Roberta Ahmanson, Lukas Naugle, and many more.  Check out the Table of Contents here.

Our theme for this issue is Patronage, inviting you to think more intentionally about all of the ways you invest in culture and the common good.  It's not a question of whether you patronize; only what--which is precisely we need to think and talk about this.

My editorial, "Let's Talk About Your Investment Strategy," invites you into these questions.  Here's a snippet:

We are patrons, not just in our "charitable" giving, but in our day-to-day lives. When we spend our money, we are not just consuming commercial goods, we are also fostering and perpetuating ways of being human. To be a patron is to be a selector, an evaluator, and a progenitor of certain forms of cultural life. You didn't realize you exercised such power, did you? 
When you start to think in these terms, you realize that all of us are patrons. And you start to realize that maybe we should think a little more carefully about how to do this well. By decisions we perhaps don't think about, we are effectively saying "yes" to some version of the good life. In this issue of the magazine we have gathered wisdom from a range of practitioners with a view to equipping you to be a better patron—in philanthropy and charitable giving, but also in our nitty-gritty, workaday lives. We're interested in patrons as culturemakers and helping culture-makers to see their responsibility as patrons.

Read of the rest of the editorial.  Then, if you're not yet a subscriber, I hope you'll sign up today for just $30/year.  Or consider our reduced iPad subscription at just $19.99/year (and get a bonus issue).

Already a longtime Comment subscriber?  Then I have another suggestion for you:

1. Think of three people whose lives you want to invest in: they might be students who are going to graduate this year, staff members you are cultivating, leaders in your congregation, grandchildren who are beginning to make their way in the world.  

2.  Buy them gift subscriptions to Comment. It's a great way to invite them into a wider conversation.  

3. We'll send you a signed copy of my new book, Discipleship in the Present Tense.  (Hurry! Offer ends December 9.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Whither Oliver O'Donovan?

I'm just wrapping up a doctoral seminar at Calvin Theological Seminary on Oliver O'Donovan's moral and political theology.  We focused on close readings of Resurrection and Moral Order, 2nd ed. (1994) and Desire of the Nations (Cambridge, 1999), along with some critical readings by Jonathan Chaplin and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

We didn't have time to give proper attention to The Ways of Judgment (2005) or his most recent volume, Self, World, and Time (2013), so I promised students I would spend a day trying to summarize the trajectory of O'Donovan's work post-DN.  I thought the resulting notes (notes!, please note) might be of some service to others so I share them here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Comment Magazine iPad App

When I was enlisted as editor of Comment magazine, one of my first hopes was to launch a tablet version of the magazine within the year.  Given the incredible work of our team, that dream is now a reality: the Comment iPad app is now available.

In addition to its functionality, we see the iPad version as a way for students and young people (and others, of course) to subscribe to the magazine at a reduced rate.  (We all know about those students loans!)  So an iPad subscription is only $19.99.  This is a great way to invest in a conversation that can grow with as you pursue your calling.

We're absolutely committed to print--as our new print design demonstrates.  But we also hope the tablet platform can expand the circle of folks who are part of the conversation.  If you're not yet a subscriber, subscribe today and you'll get access to our most recent issue, "We Believe in Institutions."  If you're already a subscriber, please pass along this news to your friends.

If you have questions, check out our FAQ for the iPad version.

And watch for our next issue, on Patronage, which will be in your mailboxes and on the iOS Newsstand in December. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

"The Enlightened Conservative"

As you'll note, this blog has been languishing (how many first lines of blog posts are some version of that?).  What time I have for blogging is now generally spent at the Cardus Daily.  More significantly, I spend most of my off-the-cuff energy on Twitter (@james_ka_smith).  [If you're not on Twitter, do consider it.  I've found it to be a blast.]  My longer online reflections appear as essays for Comment magazine.

In the meantime, not wanting to abandon the Ruskinian legacy of Fors Clavigera, I thought I might use this space as a kind of tumblr, a place to collect and curate some choice quotes that double as "notes to self."

In that spirit, I was interested to see that the good folks at The Imaginative Conservative are republishing Russell Kirk's Prospects for Conservatives: A Compass for Rediscovering the Permanent Things.  Here's a representative quote:

The enlightened conservative does not believe that the end or aim of life is competition; or success; or enjoyment; or longevity; or power; or possessions. He believes, instead, that the object of life is Love. He knows that the just and ordered society is that in which Love governs us, so far as Love can reign in this world of sorrows; and he knows that the anarchical or the tyrannical society is that in which Love lies corrupt. He has learned that Love is the source of all being, and that Hell itself is ordained by love. He understands that Death, when we have finished the part was assigned to us, is the reward of Love. He apprehends the truth that the greatest happiness ever granted to a man is the privilege of being happy in the hour of his death. He has no intention of converting this human society of ours into an efficient machine for efficient machine-operators, dominated by master mechanics. Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them with him bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars.