WHEN I think about the collective enterprises into which I invest my time Image continues to be the most gratifying. It lies closest to my heart. It’s personal.
Likewise, the contacts Greg and I have with our writers, profiled artists, and financial benefactors bring freshets of grace into the day-to-day. The generosity of these people, and those who write to us about Image, give us courage; their kindness motivates us to plow through the difficulties of launching a journal. We have many people to thank, and we send out this second issue with gratitude. Your personal involvement has nurtured this dream.
I once said to a group of editors that a magazine or a journal ought to be like a zoo, with as many wild animals as possible. Greg and I are trying to put this dictum into practice. This means giving the writer, interviewee, or profile candidate his say. It means, at times, making no attempt to change the artist into a representative of our own views; and this has meant, in actual practice, everything from letting the politically correct among us have their stylistic way to printing views we find abhorrent.
Publications with religious ties, specifically ones with our Christian viewpoint, almost never do this. These publications find their reason for being in supporting a theological agenda. They have mini-magisteriums, or at least bizarrely detailed statements of faith, to defend. We think they confuse publications with churches.
Even publications considered “liberal” rarely do this. Besides Nat Hentoff, not too many pro-life advocates write for The New York Review of Books. Very few stories embracing faith as one of life’s possibilities appear in The New Yorker.
The nation’s discourse has been so politicized that it’s sometimes little more than a shouting match.
Writing and the other arts find this, to say the least, uncongenial. By their nature, they are acts of communication, with subtle languages that reach into mystery–where other languages and our own perceptual abilities begin to fail under the best conditions. Most importantly, they are personal acts of communication, and they come about only because we live in a personal universe, one created, with every intention, by God.
It was his purpose, we have been told, to create men in his own image, free creatures with their own sphere of sovereignty. Their personhood would be inherently endowed with the faculties of will, imagination, and reason. They would be such free creatures that they would be at liberty to bust up and despoil much of God’s own creation. The Lord ran this risk, though, for the sake of his greater glory.
We want to take what we imagine to be a similar kind of risk. We want Image to be so writer-centered that the writer may contradict the over-arching views of our journal universe. Those views will be best known, as are the Creator’s, in the preponderance of its ontology, the majority of its editors’ selections.
This will always make Image a risky journal both to edit and to read. We think these risks are inherent, though, in anything alive—in anything, whether it’s a universe or a journal, that’s personal.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.