EDITORIAL
Your Voice of Orthodox Catholicism, Without Any Strings Attached

September 2005By Dale Vree



The only intellectual, theologically right-of-center, Catholic-oriented magazines that have a significantly larger paid circulation than the NOR does are Crisis and First Things. Why? Because they get their funding from neoconservative foundations. In 2003 (the last year reported), Crisis and its affiliated Morley Publishing Group got $105,000 from neocon foundations. Since Crisis’s founding in 1982, neocon foundations have pumped in $1,774,000. In 2003 (the last year reported), First Things and its affiliated Institute on Religion and Public Life got $425,000 from neoconservative foundations. Since its founding in 1990, First Things has received a whopping $8,217,500.

Crisis’s budget as of 2003 was $1,641,151. The budget for First Things as of 2003 was $1,773,059. By comparison, the NOR’s budget for 2003 was $449,383. Imagine what the NOR could do with a budget of over a million and a half dollars! Still, we are pleased to say that we don’t rely on political foundations, for there can be strings attached.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that First Things is called First Things, not Last Things, as in the Four Last Things (death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell). Nor is First Things called Last Things First or First & Last Things. You probably thought — and we certainly thought — that the purpose of First Things and its affiliated Religion and Public Life was to instruct people about religious orthodoxy, maybe even Catholic orthodoxy. We were wrong. Their purpose is to “teach people about the moral and ethical basis of capitalism” (according to mediatransparency.org). Crisis used to be named Catholicism in Crisis. Now it’s just Crisis, with the subtitle being Politics, Culture, and the Church — note the order. One could easily get the impression that First Things and Crisis are bought and paid for by neocon foundations.

Before Crisis and First Things were even founded, the NOR was contacted by a neocon foundation — right out of the blue. The foundation wanted to give us money — “free” money. A fellow flew out from the East Coast and asked me (the Editor) to meet him for drinks in a San Francisco restaurant — on him. Sure! (We were desperate for money.)

He told me he would fund us regularly — if we would support corporate capitalism and if we would support a militaristic U.S. foreign policy. I had to think quickly on my feet. I immediately realized that our first loyalty is to Christ and His Church, not to any ideology, political party, or even any nation (for the Church is universal). It was patently obvious that our religious mission would be compromised, that the whole idea was to make us a front group for the neocon agenda. I gave him a firm “no,” and that was the end of that.

Have I regretted that “no”? In my weaker moments, yes; but mostly I have not. For Catholic social teaching does not support unregulated capitalism, and we know that the Holy See’s stand on foreign affairs can at times be sharply at odds with U.S. foreign policy.

The offer from the neocon foundation was reminiscent of how the Communist Party (CP) operated in the U.S. Indeed, many of the leading neocons are ex-Trotskyites (ultra-Left Communists), and know how the CP manipulated people. The CP set up front groups (with the help of Moscow gold) for religious people to advance the CP line. Leaders of these front groups were sometimes dupes. But some knew full well what they were doing. We don’t know if Catholics who jump aboard the neocon gravy train are dupes or know full well what they are doing. All we know is that it’s not something the NOR could do.

We at the NOR are glad to be independent of the ideological bigwigs. We don’t have to run around on the New York and D.C. cocktail-party circuit. We don’t have to kiss up to the neocon money-barons. We don’t have to serve their vested interests. But that’s only possible because we receive our funding from our subscribers.

We were amused when the Editor-in-Chief of First Things, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, said he gets a “princely salary” (First Things, Dec. 1998, p. 80). Well, when you’re on the neocon dole, you do get a princely salary. But when you’re not! No one at the NOR gets a “princely salary.”

When you chase after the fat cats, things can get sticky. The fundraiser for Crisis is (still) Deal Hudson. In a letter dated April 5, 2005, announcing Crisis’s seventh annual golf tournament signed by Hudson, he said: “Again, we invite you to a special White House briefing,” linked to the golf tournament. (The tab for the golfing was $2,000 for one person.) This caught the attention of Julia Duin, the religion reporter for the conservative Washington Times, who raised ethical issues about Hudson’s letter (as we all know, Hudson has other ethical issues dogging him). White House spokesman Trent Duffy responded: “The White House was not aware whatsoever it would be used in this fashion. It’s well-established that it’s inappropriate for third parties to use the White House for briefings to raise money.” The White House canceled the briefing, and so Crisis had to cancel its event. Obviously, the enticement was the White House briefing. And do remember that Hudson’s letter of April 5 said, “Again, we invite you to a special White House briefing.” So how long has this underhanded fundraising been going on?

Yes, the neocon magazines have a lot of money to throw around. They hold conferences, go on fancy cruises and stage golf tournaments to lure in more high rollers, travel hither and yon, and pay their writers handsomely. The NOR does none of that; indeed, we don’t pay our writers anything. You’ve heard the slogan: “Freedom Is Not Free.” You pay a price for your freedom, and the NOR is truly free.

Over the years, we’ve managed to increase our number of pages per issue from 32 to 48, and increase our number of issues per year from 10 to 11, all without increasing our subscription rates. This is due to donations from our subscribers. If you multiply the number of pages by the issues per year and divide that sum by the subscription price, you’ll find that among serious Catholic magazines the NOR comes out as number one — that is, you get the most bang for your buck. And that’s the way we want to keep it.

However, over the past year, we’ve lost $142,000. Part of that is normal (as expenses exceed income), but part is not. What is not normal is this:

(1)We have reconstructed our website, newoxfordreview.org. Previously, it was operated by a kind fellow in his spare time, free of charge. But because he has a growing family, he told us he could no longer be our webmaster. So we hired Michael S. Rose to reconstruct our website. It is now up and running, and you’ll notice that it is vastly improved. To that end, we’ve been archiving our past issues, and our online Archives currently go back to 1996, with every article, editorial, guest column, New Oxford Note, book review, and letter to the editor now available at our website — with more to come. And our “infamous” ads are available in our online Ad Gallery. You know, those biting, satirical, often laugh-out-loud ads, those that have been banned by Commonweal, the National Catholic Reporter, America, Crisis, the National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor, among others. And we have compiled over 40 Dossiers containing all the material that has appeared in the NOR going back to 1996 on particular topics or persons: C.S. Lewis, Hell, prolife issues, Scott Hahn, ecumenism and ecumania, wacky theologians, sacred music, Catholic social teaching, “inclusive” language, the clerical sex scandals, the Lavender Mafia, and much more. And we continue to offer a growing selection of NOR items that have been translated into Spanish in the En Español section of our website.

Visitors to our website can also browse the online NOR Gear Shoppe, and choose from a wide selection of T-shirts and tote bags, sweatshirts and hoodies, coffee mugs and beer steins, BBQ aprons and baby bibs, and more — all bearing pithy, NOR-themed designs.

One new feature of our upgraded website that we think will be of great use to our readers is the New Oxford News Link. Updated every weekday, the News Link features the day’s news items that are of particular interest to Catholics, from the headline news to overlooked news oddities, culled from news sources the world over. The News Link is a free service; you can sign up to receive daily email updates by going to our website, clicking the “Free Email Updates” link, and entering your email address. One need not be a subscriber to take advantage of the News Link.

Of course, Mr. Rose is not doing this in his spare time; it’s a real job, and he must be paid. We didn’t hire someone off the street who knows nothing about the NOR and then disappears when he’s done. Rose knows what the NOR is all about, and he has the same “attitude” as the Editor. For example, at the top of the homepage of the website there are three puffs for the NOR: “Catholicism’s Intellectual Prizefighter” — Karl Keating; “Cheeky” — Newsweek ; followed by “Very Offensive!” — Archbishop Rembert Weakland (that’s the best puff we’ve ever gotten!). And Rose is maintaining our website year round, so it will not become stale.

It is extremely important to have an engaging and comprehensive website, with new material every weekday, because young people spend enormous amounts of time on the Internet, and it goes without saying that young people are the future of orthodox Catholicism and of the NOR. On our website the News Link, the Ad Gallery, and the Spanish translations are free, as is one different item each weekday from the Archives, from the current issue, and from the previous month’s issue. This is how we get people coming back to our website — and, we hope, get them to subscribe. But in order to view our entire Archives and all our Dossiers, you must pay a small fee. Still, for now and in the near future, our website will be draining us of money, but our prayer is that it will eventually pay for itself.

(2)One can subscribe online to the print edition of the NOR, or extend or renew a subscription. And this can now be done by credit card, something many of our readers have been asking of us for a number of years. We are happy to be able to offer this service, but, unfortunately, accepting credit cards is also a monetary drain. We hope it will eventually pay for itself, but we can’t be sure of that.

So, all in all, to cover our losses and project us into the new fiscal year, we need to raise $176,000. Please do help us achieve our modest fundraising goal by sending your donation to: New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley CA 94706. The New Oxford Review is a nonprofit entity and has 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are therefore tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Checks are of course to be made out to New Oxford Review. Credit card donations can also be made at our website: newoxfordreview.org.

As St. Augustine said, “God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” Please do help us raise our sails in this blood-dimmed and turbulent ocean.

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