A Note from the Editor

I joined Commonweal in 1988, and its two-week schedule has set the rhythm of my thinking, reading, writing, and social life ever since. Twenty-two times a year for fifteen years adds up to 330 issues of Commonweal. There have certainly been editors who have produced a good many more issues than that, and some less, but for me 330 issues seems just about right and just about enough.

At the end of this year, I will resign as editor, and take a nap. Paul Baumann, who has long served as excellent executive editor, has been chosen by the Commonweal board to become the excellent editor at the beginning of 2003.

My decision to move on has not been taken lightly, though as the end approaches I am feeling a remarkable lightness of being. The burden of doing what must be done and doing exactly what suits intellect and character is a paradoxical one. Some people have an affinity for making money or for doing good. My natural affinity is for analyzing, arguing, judging, and correcting, which makes editorial work for me a kind of doing, non-doing. Yes, there is a Zen of editing. But then paradox: these well-honed skills have a character-deforming quality as well. They take over. Novel reading drops out of the editor’s life in favor of military analysis (yes, I actually have read a book on the Yugoslav military as it existed before the break-up) and the reading of poll results...

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.