Periodical Crossings by Patrick Henry Reardon

Conference Talk

Periodical Crossings

The Intersections of Christ, Creed & Culture

All of us know that Touchstone is a journal of commentary. Its dominant and almost exclusive literary form is the essay. We publish neither poetry nor fiction. Our subject matter is limited to the interests of our writers and, on occasion, we hope, our readers.

Touchstone, we know, began publication 30 years ago, and I became involved with it three years later. I became the first non-Protestant member of the editorial board. Indeed, I gave what I believe were the first three Touchstone lectures, in Chicago, in January of 1989. That was the occasion when I first met senior editors Tom Buchanan and Steve Hutchens.

During that period I was assiduously reading another journal of essays, called The Rambler. I confess today that, from the beginning, I have taken the content and style of the Rambler essays as my personal model for what Touchstone should try to accomplish.

Those of you familiar with the essays of The Rambler may think this an unusual journalistic standard. After all, The Rambler was published in the mid-eighteenth century. Directed to the emerging middle class, it presented essays commenting on literature, philosophy, history, and culture, all of them elevated by disciplined prose and a pronounced moral tone.

Such observations, however, oblige me to remark on the most obvious difference between The Rambler and Touchstone: whereas Touchstone is put together by several editors and many writers, The Rambler was completely produced by the mind and pen of just one man. Here, indeed, the difference between the two journals is immense. My fellow senior editors, I am certain, agree that all of us taken together are hardly to be compared with that one man. Whatever our individual merits, the Touchstone editors recognize, in repentance, that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Samuel Johnson.

Horizontal & Vertical Lines

A special feature of Touchstone I want to present today is this: our journal is a field of intersections, a place where lines of intellectual and moral inquiry are deliberately crossed at specific and critical points. Indeed, I hope to identify and examine several points that define the very character of Touchstone.

Let us first consider what I will call Touchstone's convergence of horizontal lines. There are many points in our enterprise where various horizontal lines—earthly trajectories—come together. Touchstone is not just a journal of theology. We endeavor to meet the need of what Eric Miller calls "earthy intelligence."

The interests of our journal include philosophy, history, sociology, literature, science, education, law, the arts, and other expressions of culture. Most or all of these disciplines are represented, in fact, in the publications of our senior editors.

Each of these disciplines has its own history; each has its own expected standards and its own methodology. Moreover, each subject has its own areas of controversy. All these things contribute, I believe, to a considerable richness, diversity, and flexibility in the Touchstone mix.

What people are saying about Touchstone:

Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more on mere christianity from the online archives

more from the online archives

32.4—July/August 2019

Sojourner Knight

on Single-Mindedness in Durer's Ritter, Tod, und Teufel by Anthony Costello

14.1—January/February 2001

The Christian Heart of Fatherhood

The Place of Marriage, Authority & Service in the Recovery of Fatherhood by John M. Haas

36.4—Jul/Aug 2023

Nothingness Rules

Our Political Void & the Disintegration of Truth by Michael Hanby

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone