Rumors of turnover at the religiously ecumenical, politically right-of-center journal have been circulating for over a week. Its website now offers tacit confirmation: in place of Jody Bottum as editor, the masthead lists James Nuechterlein as interim editor.
Bottum was known for pieces like “The New Fusionism,” which proposed that pro-lifers should make common cause with pro-war neoconservatives. “There may be several ways to convince Americans to reject Roe v. Wade–but one of them is by remembering that the nation’s founding ideals are true and worth defending against the enemies of freedom around the world.” A silly idea, considering how many Americans believe that abortion rights are consistent with those “founding ideals”; also an evil idea, since an unjust war cannot be excused on account of any salutary developments it might foster at home. Consider the case from the other direction: would Bottum or any other pro-war pro-lifer say that abortion was justified as long as it helped prosecute the War on Terror? Until the justice of a war is determined, there can be no question of religious pro-lifers joining the bandwagon.
First Things has published some good pieces over the years, and lately several of its contributors have taken a turn against interventionism. A new editor could give the journal a clean break from the errors of the Bush years. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.