This June will mark the tenth anniversary of The Pietist Schoolman, a blog that was inspired and influenced by John Fea’s The Way of Improvement Leads Home. (John also helped found The Anxious Bench, which I joined five years ago this June.) Though we blog very differently, our interests continue to overlap in many areas.
So I’m sure that readers of this blog (or of Anxious Bench, for that matter), will want to check out John’s newest initiative, Current, which officially launched this week.
Not to worry: Way of Improvement is still there. But John has also recruited a long list of gifted contributors to help him fulfill Current‘s mission: to provide “daily reflection on contemporary culture, politics, and ideas” that’s grounded
in the broad tradition of American democracy—a tradition whose practices and institutions we believe are moving through a period of great stress and testing. We confess that we once took for granted many of the basic assumptions of our democracy, including a shared core of American values. We no longer do.
We are exhausted by the cultural warfare that now dominates our civic life, threatening to undermine bonds of family, friendship, and neighborhood. We are demoralized by the quasi-religious authoritarianism we see growing on both the right and the left. We endeavor here to provide commentary that clarifies and explains our political and cultural moment, summoning readers to intelligent, constructive responses.
Like American democracy at its best, we aspire for Current to be free, dynamic, divergent, and civil. If spirited, even profound disagreements arise on this platform, we hope they will always be bounded by a common regard for liberty of conscience and free inquiry, and moderated by shared commitments to humility, charity, and mutual respect.
Among others, the masthead of Current includes two of my Anxious Bench colleagues, Agnes Howard (whose inaugural essay suggested how COVID-related “dislocations could prompt a fruitful rethinking of work and family”) and Dan Williams. John serves as executive editor, with his friends and fellow Christian college historians Jay Green and Eric Miller also editing.
(Long-time readers of Pietist Schoolman may recall that John, Jay, and Eric edited Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation, a 2010 book that was the subject of a three-part series early in my blog’s run. Actually, I just quoted it the other day in our Intro to History class. But here I’ll reiterate Current‘s explanation that while its “founding editors are Christians, we are committed to publishing diverse voices that share our concern for the state of American democracy.”)
Much of the content at Current is not behind a paywall — including John’s first full essay this morning, on the centrality of human dignity to the politics of America’s second Catholic president — but if you share my excitement for this project, admiration for its leaders, and hope for its mission, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Current as a Patreon member: $5 per month adds news, announcements, and a special essay for patrons only; another five bucks a month adds on John’s new narrative history podcast, A History of Evangelicalism and Politics in America; and for $20 monthly, you also get to join a Zoom call with Current editors and writers every other month.