New journal speaks for faith in common life
By Robert White | Monday, December 19, 2011
Cover of the Convivium October 2011 preview edition.
HAMILTON, ONConvivium plans to be more than a journal to help Christians articulate how their faith is relevant in the public square.
"The idea is to move beyond the magazine coming through the door," says publisher Peter Stockland. "We want people to be members of a project, not just subscribers to a magazine."
Before Convivium became a project of the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal, it was Raymond de Souza's idea. The multi-tasking university chaplain and professor, parish priest and National Post columnist was influenced by his friend and mentor Richard John Neuhaus, founder and editor of the First Things journal.
"The path he trod, being a religious voice in the public square, appealed to me," says de Souza. "The idea that something like (First Things) was needed for Canada was close to my heard and mind."
The idea percolated with de Souza for three or four years because he knew he couldn't put running a magazine on his already full plate. Providence stepped in when Stockland took over at the Centre for Cultural Renewal. The former reporter, Calgary Herald and Reader's Digest editor and Montreal Gazette editor-in-chief had "an extensive background on how to put publications together.
"He was looking for a great project," says de Souza of Stockland's goal to revive the centre's energy. "I had what I thought was a great project looking for a home.
"It was a natural fit."
It was also a natural fit for Cardus, the Hamilton-based think tank that brought the Centre for Cultural renewal into its fold last year.
Convivium "fits into Cardus' overall mission of the renewal of social architecture," says Cardus' senior fellow and director of Research Ray Pennings, listing its other publications: Cardus Policy in Public, Lexview and Comment. "Convivium fits a niche none of them did as a more broadly targeted journal."
Convivium, Latin for "common life," will build both a sense of community and a sense of commonality within diversity, says Stockland. A glance at the journal's masthead shows this: Stockland and de Souza come from the Catholic tradition while Cardus has its roots in the Reformed tradition.
The first issue also demonstrates this diversity with articles from Catholics (like National Post religion reporter Charles Lewis and Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Pendergast) and Protestants alike (including retired MPs Bill Blaikie and David Kilgour, and Cardus president Michael Van Pelt).
"We don't have to agree to be part of the conversation," says Pennings. "We're looking for articles that take faith in the public square seriously and respectfully."
Taking that "faith in our common life" (the journal's subhead) from the page to the public square will include a lecture series by de Souza, including events for university students, says Stockland.
And with the first issue being distributed to select Canadian cities in October 2011 Stockland, de Souza and Pennings all say the conversation is just beginning.
Van Pelt says it best in an article in the first issue: "We don't see Convivium, as just the words on a page...We see Convivium as a community that will grow and develop over time ... what we're seeking to create is a community that will discuss and live out these kinds of conversations."