Today we celebrate the five-year anniversary of The Imaginative Conservative. While it is true that we first published on July 10, 2010, the seeds of our efforts were planted much earlier. Friendships of decades, books inherited from the past, and lives spent in pursuit of eternal truths are the foundations of The Imaginative Conservative community. Among our writers many share friendships which help us to bridge the great distances that prevent us from more frequently sharing place, time and comradeship. In our greater online “community,” our readers participate by offering their thoughtful consideration and precious time to what we hope are winged words.
In light of the major influence of Dr. Russell Kirk on the founders of The Imaginative Conservative, it was appropriate that we began publishing with his sage words:
The conservative is concerned, first of all, for the regeneration of spirit and character–with the perennial problem of the inner order of the soul, the restoration of the ethical understanding, and the religious sanction upon which any life worth living is founded. This is conservatism at its highest.
My cofounder, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, and I are grateful for the greatness of mind and the generosity of spirit which may be found in the thought of Dr. Kirk. We hope and pray that Dr. Kirk is proud of our work, and that we may reflect his spirit as we endeavor to carry forward in his footsteps.
We are also grateful to be associated with more than five hundred authors whom we have published in our first five years. Some are old friends, many are new friends, and plentiful are those whom we know only by their writing. There are those whom we will have to join in the celestial celebration before we may converse in greater intimacy. We offer them all our heartfelt thanks and, with joyful anticipation, we look toward continuing with them the great conversation.
Our Senior Contributors have been particularly generous with their time and thoughtful writings during our journal’s infancy. They were willing to share their good names, and their tireless efforts, with The Imaginative Conservative, and this while we were still in hopeful anticipation of finding a thoughtful readership. Their confidence has proven well-founded, as our three thousand four hundred essays have now been read five million times by a global audience. We did not expect so many to appreciate our offerings, and it is a tribute to our writers, and especially to our Senior Contributors, that readers in great numbers have found The Imaginative Conservative a congenial, and respectful, place to ponder and contemplate.
We have suffered painful losses. George Carey and Stratford Caldecott–colleagues beloved, respected, and admired–departed this vale of tears. These men, both Senior Contributors, are greatly missed by family and friends. We are grateful to have known them. We will miss their wit and wisdom, but we remain proud to have numbered them among our company, dedicated to the pursuit of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. May they rest in peace, and may we cherish their memories.
To all our authors, friends, patrons, readers, and fellow travelers, we offer thanks and best wishes. The first five years have been a journey of words, ideas, art, music, wit, and wonder. Let the adventure continue.
We will continue to offer a conservatism of thought and imagination in the hope of preserving the best of the Western tradition and restoring the virtue of our Republic. We pray that our conservatism is a conservatism of restoration as well as preservation. Dr. Kirk once told President Nixon: “If, rather than despairing, people recognize the gravity of social circumstances and hopefully resolve to take arms against a sea of troubles–why, hope breeds hope, and a nation’s vitality is renewed…. The American Republic is still young, as civilizations go, and that despite our present discontents we Americans conceivably may enter soon upon an Augustan age.”
We offer a discussion of essential principles where agreement is not the highest goal. Nor is merely winning. Instead we strive for understanding; we seek to draw closer to the True, the Good and the Beautiful.
We know that at times a conservative may suffer from the deep division between the world in which he lives and one infused with truth, beauty, and goodness. However, he has a joy that can transcend suffering; he instead finds beauty in the contrast with ugliness, helping him understand the human condition and draw ever nearer to wisdom.
We will continue to proclaim a conservatism of joy, gratitude, and love. Let us be true conservatives, conservators of all that is worthy of conserving. And yes, let there be dancing, praise, gladness, laughter, and joy. Shouldn’t conservators rejoice in the grand heritage they’ve inherited to share with the next generation? At The Imaginative Conservative we say “Yes.”
We believe the words of Philippians 4:8 may be taken as the credo for the conservative who is aware of the created nature of man and seeks the highest good for the human person.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
When launching a new journal of conservative thought, Dr. Kirk offered a very fine description of what the contributors hoped to accomplish. I believe these words also well describe The Imaginative Conservative’s mission and are an appropriate conclusion to this expression of hope and gratitude on our fifth anniversary:
We intend to publish a journal which will make it possible for contributors to write and think as well as they possibly can. We shall not try to be popular, and we shall not try to be didactic. We shall not be afraid of the long essay, or the long review-article, or of wit….We shall be leisurely, and we shall not be always sobersided. We shall endeavor not to depend on “current awareness” to find a public; we shall seek, instead, to encourage and express considered judgments more important than this week’s or this month’s news. We shall not pretend to be able to predict next spring’s election or next year’s revolution. We want to stimulate discussion, rather than to force our editorial opinions upon our readers. Our object is not to pick quarrels, but to bring about a meeting of men’s minds.