Saturday, February 9, 2019
Several weeks ago, I began drafting a 15-year anniversary post that I never brought myself to finish. It was fairly negative in outlook, and I found ways to avoid attempting either to make the necessary arguments or to abandon them. Here's what I wrote:
We are fast approaching the fifteenth anniversary of the first post at Mirror of Justice.
It feels very different from the tenth anniversary. Then, there were many anniversary-reflection posts from MOJers old and new. These reflections varied in orientation but were largely hopeful.
Now, I expect there will be fewer. And the hope they have to offer will probably not be for the future of this particular group blog.
* * *
Is it time for Mirror of Justice to give up the ghost?
I ask explicitly and publicly in order to provoke honest answers from our contributors.
My answer is yes, for reasons that I aim to elaborate over my next few posts. But perhaps I am wrong.
Not completely inaccurate predictively, I suppose. There have been fewer anniversary posts at 15 than at 10, and they express appropriate uncertainty about the future. But while the posts have been less than confident about the best path forward for this particular blog, they have been more hopeful than I expected about the worth of continuing the undertaking.
I am particularly grateful for the anniversary posts by Greg Sisk and Susan Stabile. Greg writes, "As long as the blogosphere continues, something like the Mirror of Justice is needed. I pray for another fruitful 15 years." Susan "remain[s] convinced of the importance of the enterprise in which we have been engaged for the last fifteen years.
Howard Wasserman's gracious post at PrawfsBlawg was also most welcome."MoJ serves a particular and special message that is not easily replaced," he writes, "and so should continue."
These observations make me think I might have been wrong in my earlier private musings about the practical wisdom of ending this collective project any time soon.
Instead of speculating about the end of MOJ, then, I'll conclude this anniversary-week post with a few thoughts on the blog's beginning.
(1) From today's perspective, the inaugural MOJ post radiates an anticipatory defensiveness of a sort that now seems quaint: "The members of this blog group represent a broad spectrum of Catholic opinion." How nice.
(2) The group members all believe that "faith-based discourse is entirely legitimate in the academy and in the public square, and that religious values need not be bracketed in academic or public conversation." Too bad that needed to be said; perhaps we can better realize now how fragile were the foundations of the consensus position we were challenging even while we were accepting it as obviously legitimate in some way.
(3) "We may differ on how such values should be expressed or considered in those conversations or in public decisionmaking." Probably not as true now, which is all to the good.