After the tremendous response to Rome Diary, Richard John Neuhaus' daily reports from Italy on the papal funeral and election in the spring of 2005, we kicked around the idea, here at the magazine, of continuing to post regular items on the First Things website.
Blogging, you might sayalthough, when finally we began to do it last September, Fr. Neuhaus used his first item to worry about whether the term blog was appropriate for what we wanted to do with the First Things website. Regardless, we started providing, generally, one longish post a day, and the initial reader interest was encouraging, leaping almost immediately to a daily readership that ranged from 15,000 to 20,000 unique sessions a day.
And there it frozewith apparently nothing we do making a difference. Fr. Neuhaus puts his most profound thoughts about Christianity and the American Experiment, and the website records 15,000 to 20,000 sessions a day. I put my most trivial thoughts about great ukulele players, and we get the same 15,000 to 20,000. Good posts, bad posts, peace, war, Christmas, the Fourth of July, the sixth Tuesday in ordinary time: It doesn't seem to matter. Our regulars visit, and no one else does.
So we thought we'd try something a little different for the month of August. This is the first summer we've had the capacity on the website to post regular blog itemsand, by the same token, the first summer that we've had to post regular blog items during the time when vacations loom for our overworked editorial staff.
The solution was obvious: Dragoon as many of our editorial board members and friends as we could, demanding from them regular items during the month of August. And, at the same time, use the visiting bloggers to conduct an experiment to see whether posting many smaller items during the course of the day prompted an increaseor a decreasein the number of visitors to the website.
If you have an opinion about the experiment, please email to let us know at email@example.com. Meanwhile, our board members and friends who have agreed to contribute this month so far include:
Stephen M. Barr
Robert P. George
Wilfred M. McClay
Robert T. Miller
Edward T. Oakes, S.J.
Wesley J. Smith
Stephen H. Webb
You can read brief notes about them on our contributors' page, and their new postings will begin on August 1. Which is today. Now. Shortly after this post appears. Go away, then come back. They'll be here.
While we're at it, you might also note that First Things has added a "Contribute" button, next to the "Subscribe" button at the top of the home page. This would be a good time to contribute if you haven't already. For that matter, a good time to subscribe if you haven't already. Or to subscribe even if you already have: Can you really get enough of First Things? Fifteen to twenty thousand blog readers a day can't be wrong.
In addition to which:
Robert Louis Wilken's remembrance of his friend Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006) includes this: "In the last generation, it has become fashionable among historians of Christian thought .... to suggest ... that orthodox Christianity made its way not by argument but by power and coercion. The real heroes in Christian history are the dissidents, the heretics, whose insights were suppressed. . . . Pelikan never succumbed to this temptation." Elsewhere in the same August/September First Things, Avery Cardinal Dulles gives reasons for valuing the traditional teaching of the Church in his article, "The Orthodox Imperative." Educate yourself this summer with a subscription to First Things.