Editorial: End of the Print Comment?

January 1 st 2004

This is probably the last paper copy of Comment you will hold in your hands. As of 2004, Comment will move to being a web-based magazine. It will also shift to eight issues per year, each of which will be quite a bit shorter than the bumper issue you are holding.

This change in Comment's format—not the first such change, and probably not the last—is the result of a thorough rethinking of its purpose. What is it that we want to achieve with Comment? We are not doing Comment just for the sheer fun of it, even though putting together a magazine is a great deal of fun.

Comment is not an academic journal, and it would be fair criticism that we have been quite a bit too academic for most of our readers, at least during recent years. Neither is Comment a straight-forward business magazine, even though our focus has been and will remain on economic life.

Comment is one of the vehicles by means of which the Work Research Foundation strives to achieve its purpose, which is primarily to influence people toward a Christian view of work, and, secondarily, to promote the idea of sphere sovereignty as part of a framework for thinking about the renewal of the economic sphere and public life.

The Work Research Foundation is a think tank that seeks to influence leaders.

James Davison Hunter, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia and author of the hugely influential book Culture Wars, in a 2002 briefing at Os Guinness's Trinity Forum, claimed that "Cultures change from the top down; rarely if ever from the bottom up." Professor Hunter continued:

Long-term cultural change always occurs from the top down. In other words, the work of world-changing is the work of elites; gatekeepers who provide creative direction and management to the leading institutions in a society.

The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Awakenings, the Enlightenment, the triumph of capitalism over mercantilism and feudalism, all of the democratic revolutions in the West, the rise and triumph of science; and in our own day, the triumph of the therapeutic, post-modernism in law, architecture, literature, and popular culture, and now globalization itself all began among elites and then percolated into the larger society.

Sometimes these world-historical changes take many generations to work their way into the fabric of society. Given the power of technology, we seem to be witnessing a compression in the time between the generation of ideas and their dissemination within the larger society.

With the new web-based Comment, we hope to make good use of the power of technology and to become more effective at our purpose, influencing not only the leaders of today, but, in particular, the leaders of tomorrow. So please point your friends—especially your younger friends—to www.wrf.ca/comment.

 

Gideon Strauss was the editor of Comment from 2000 to 2010. He is currently Associate Professor of Worldview Studies at the Institute for Christian Studies, a graduate school of philosophy in Toronto, and a senior fellow with the Center for Public Justice in Washington DC. Gideon also facilitates vocational discipleship in churches in his native South Africa.

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