Christian publishing is risky business. When I launched a quarterly journal way back in 1992 I was told the first three years would make or break us. That proved to not be true. We lasted for sixteen years. We funded a quarterly that never made a profit with mission dollars because we believed in what we were doing. But keeping a journal in print was a major problem for such a small ministry. When we finally decided to "pull the plug" there was a great sense of grief in my life. I felt as if I had failed in some way. I missed the work of editing and writing and seeing this journal come out every three months. In time I realized how stressed I was under this burden and realized I should have given up six years earlier than I did. Peace finally followed that realization.
I thought of all of this when I read last week that Discipleship Journal (DJ) was going out of business with their current issue. DJ has been published for twenty eight years by Nav Press. It was a quality publication that regularly featured excellent writers addressing great themes. The writers came from across a broad range of traditions and churches. One writer, Paul Thigpen, was actually an evangelical convert to Roman Catholicism. DJ never asked him to stop writing after his conversion. In The Catholic Answer Thigpen wrote a wonderful editorial titled: "Farewell to an Old Friend." In this tribute to DJ Thigpen says that he wrote more than forty articles for DJ. He notes that, "Their breath of mind and purity of heart was never more obvious to me than when I entered the Catholic Church 16 years ago." At the time Thigpen says that "other Protestant publications I was writing for no longer wanted my services." But DJ not only wanted him to keep writing they kept him on their advisory board. He notes that DJ took some flack for this stance because some readers complained that the editors should not be publishing a Catholic author.
I thus noted the demise of DJ with even more sadness when I read Thigpen's moving tribute. We need more magazines with the kind of charity and breadth that DJ manifested. Thigpen refers to the editors at DJ "as wonderful partners in ecumenism." Readers know that I share this same perspective. At the same time I want to encourage Catholic publications to feature more evangelical Protestants in print. When our people begin to see us having such a conversation they will take our love for one another more seriously. Both communions need this more than they could possibly realize.