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Thursday, June 2, 2005

New, improved 'Harvard Divinity Bulletin': It's free.

 Harvard Divinity Bulletin And to think I was enjoying the old Harvard Divinity Bulletin — an unusually good alumni publication, the sort of thing you enjoy reading long after your liberation from higher education. A week ago Mrs Philocrites and I received our copies of the entirely redesigned and reimagined Bulletin, and I've been marvelling at it ever since. (Mrs P moved on to other things, but magazine junkie that I am, I'm still poring over it.) The design and content are very fine, but one thing jumps off the page:

Especially at a moment when conflict in public arenas so often involves religion, we believe it is important to open out the way we interpret, and reflect, HDS's mission — which is preparing future scholars, ministers, and leaders across the professions according to a common intellectual rigor and with an emphasis on religious pluralism. We believe that this publication can be, in that regard, a broadly accessible — and broadly participated in — forum on questions of worldwide, ecumenical concern, with the School as its dynamic bedrock and monitor of excellence.

Is there a broad audience for a magazine that emphasizes religion but is neither scholarly journal nor newsmagazine? We're taking an educated guess that there is — but that guess is its own sort of risk.

What does editor Will Joyner mean? The fine print on page 3 makes it clear:

Subscription at no cost is available; please send mailing address to, or, by mail, to the Office of Communications, Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138. Contributions in lieu of a subscription may be made by check, payable to Harvard University, sent to the same address.

That's an interesting — and expensive — way to build a donor base, but I think my readers will find this a very appealing offer.

Readers used to be able to download PDF versions of each Bulletin, but the new issue isn't online yet. If you'd like to catch a glimpse of its design — including one of Andrew Zbihlyj's sophisticated drawings — check out the designer's portfolio. (The same company used to design Lingua Franca and also redesigned The American Prospect and Ms.) The magazine makes particularly good use of several of typographer Robert Bringhurst's principles, including very snazzy footnotes in the margins.

Oh, yes: What's in the magazine? The best essay I've read so far is novelist Katherine Paterson's essay, "Are You There, God?" (I'll try to posts a few key passages later.) I haven't finished the cover story on cosmology, but I did breeze through a ho-hum essay by Jim Wallis (who teaches a class at HDS). Kevin Madigan, however, contributes a very good review of Michael Radford's film version of The Merchant of Venice. HDS, as they say, rocks.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 2 June 2005 at 10:08 PM

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Scott Wells:

June 2, 2005 10:13 PM | Permalink for this comment

I used to be a subscriber aeons ago, long before seminary. I figured that the cost of tuition being what it was, that was as close as I'd get to a Harvard education. (Not that I regret the schools I graduated.) In time, I guess I was found out as a non-alum and unsubscribed, but there are a couple of other seminaries that continue to harbor the notion that I was one of theirs.

It was a good read, and I look forward to getting it again.


June 3, 2005 09:17 AM | Permalink for this comment

We at Eliot inexplicably have had a subscription for some time. I, too, have enjoyed it and am no more Harvard than Scott. The new format has, actually, thrown me off my reading game a bit. I am a creature of habit but I am finding things now and am breathlessly awaiting Brother Walton's favorite articles...

Roger Kuhrt:

June 3, 2005 05:29 PM | Permalink for this comment

I have been receiving the Bulletin since 1978 and I just love the new format. This publication has been a resource for me many times for calling HDS to request audio/video recordings of various lectures that are profiled during the year. I have used these for Adult Religious Education seminars. I consider it among my most valuable reading resources.

Cheerfully, Roger Kuhrt

Roger Kuhrt:

June 4, 2005 04:08 AM | Permalink for this comment

This is an UNFAIR question! Will you be posting, to your knowlege, those who might be Blogging the upcoming GA? I would appreciate that.


June 4, 2005 04:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

Roger, which question is unfair? We'll be talking about blogging at G.A. soon, I promise.


June 13, 2005 10:09 PM | Permalink for this comment

Here's a Boston Globe Ideas article about the redesigned Bulletin: "Divine Writ," Joshua Glenn, Boston Globe 6.12.05, reg req'd.

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