Surely you’ve heard the news by now: Matthew Walther and William Borman are putting together a magazine. They’re calling it The Lamp. Have you heard that they raised over $15,000 in about two days toward the project? (We, of course, contributed as soon as we could.) This is hugely exciting news. Walther’s journalism has appeared everywhere—or almost everywhere—and he is one of the most distinctive voices working today. If you didn’t follow his brilliant columns at the Washington Free Beacon during the 2016 election, you missed a great treat. He has since taken his talents to The Week, and runs a column well worth your attention just about daily. He’s also an expert in about a dozen other topics—ranging from the 1970s recordings of Herbert von Karajan to Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s Winston Cup history—all of which are hugely interesting.
As for William Borman, you know him even if you don’t know you do. He is described as “a former consultant who now works in insurance,” which is a little like calling Wallace Stevens “in-house counsel.” He runs Incudi Reddere. He has done serious research into Brent Bozell and the output of Triumph. He has also helped popularize (anew) Ernst Kantorowicz’s brilliant Frederick the Second. Frankly, we have asked ourselves why a Catholic (or generally conservative) publishing house hasn’t picked him up and given him responsibility for a reprint series. He is one of these guys who drives the all-important discourse. If you want to know what conservative take workers will be talking about in six months, ask Borman what he’s working on right now.
We are not surprised that Walther and Borman have raised over three-quarters of their initial fundraising goal in a little more than a day. We could sneer a little and be mildly uncharitable and talk about First Things‘ shift from integralism to tedious Hazony-style nationalism in recent months. We could sneer a little more and be a little less charitable and note that the U.S. edition of the Catholic Herald, which sashayed onto the scene with a champagne lunch at the Knickerbocker Club, has seen its founding editor (Michael Warren Davis) step down from that role and its U.S. CEO (a fellow named Wargas) resign—to say nothing of Damian Thompson’s dramatic resignation as editor-in-chief. But such sneering would be a little obtuse, not least since Walther and Borman are after bigger game than Nationalism Lite (All The Flavor, Half The Calories!) or Lifestyles of the Rich and Catholic.
In Walther and Borman’s words, they want “a magazine in the old-fashioned sense, witty, urbane, not pompous or shrill, full of serious reporting, insightful opinions, squibs, oblique parodies, bagatelles, and arts coverage that draws attention to those things that are true, good, and beautiful.” This does not mean a wholly secular project, though. They go on to say, “We are attempting something at once radical and blinkeringly, even painfully, obvious: to approach questions of public import as if what the Church has consistently taught were actually true.” Wouldn’t this be lovely? A real magazine in the grand style, informed by the good old Catholic faith.
In a broad sense, Catholic ideas are winning, even if people do not recognize them as Catholic ideas. Moreover, integralist ideas are gaining attention if not traction exactly. We have previously talked about the need for developments in terms of political thought; that is, serious policy discussions among integralists. And we were right to do so. But there is more to life than politics. And, as Cardinal Danielou argues in Prayer as a Political Problem, Christians ought to order everything toward the goal of reaching our heavenly homeland. Conceiving of the Christian life in these terms cannot but emphasize the importance of Walther and Borman’s project.
Moreover, and this barely bears noting, there is so much garbage out there. Once-venerable publications have reached new lows in their quest to prove that President Donald Trump is an existential threat to the Republic. Or they have reached new lows trying to impress various leftist extremists pushing agendas that would be ridiculous—but for the brutal enforcement of those agendas by capital and cultural institutions. Or they have reached new lows by cutting pay to writers and cutting editorial staff. We could go on, but you take our point. Walther and Borman have made it clear that they are committed not only to producing quality journalism but also to paying their writers a fair wage for their work. This deserves support.
Of course, there have been a lot of new and renewed projects in recent years, some of which have made big splashes. (The young Ivy League Christians even turned Fare Forward into a real-deal print publication.) But we think The Lamp is different. For one thing, we actually want to read something put together by Walther and Borman. Doesn’t matter what. They could put together a Highlights from the Manhattan Telephone Directory and we would still want to give it a once-over (everyone be talking about it in a few months). For another thing, Walther and Borman seem to have a real plan for sustainable growth. To that end, we urge you to check out their “GoFundMe,” read their first email newsletter, and pray for their success.
Postscript: We have been reliably informed that Fare Forward started out as a print publication. We do not especially regret the error, not least since we remember only the big re-rollout a year or so(?) back.