ROBERT CHRISTIAN (EDITOR MILLENNIAL):
I’m Robert Christian, the editor and a co-founder of Millennial with Christopher Hale. Millennial is an online periodical—a blog and journal—produced by young Catholics. We cover religion, politics, and culture.
We created Millennial for a couple of reasons. First, we felt young voices were often excluded from important conversations about the faith and the Church. My partner Chris, in particular, was disappointed to see a panel on CNN or another network discussing Millennial Catholics, yet not including a single person under 50 in the conservation. So we created Millennial to help elevate some of these young voices.
A second factor was that we felt there wasn’t really a place for pro-life progressives and social justice or anti-poverty conservatives to express their views on faithful citizenship. In more formal language, we hoped to create a periodical that was grounded in personalism and communitarianism, and which would provide a forum for young Catholics who are pro-life, pro-family, pro-social justice, and pro-human rights and free democracy, rather than one beholden to a liberal or conservative ideology that conflicts with Catholic social and moral teaching.
A final factor grew stronger over time. And that was seeing Millennial’s work as part of the new evangelization. We received messages that people who were struggling to stay in the Church felt more at home when they read our articles. Others told us that they no longer felt so isolated as orthodox believers who were not politically conservative. I think others responded to our belief that Christians should be joyful and hopeful and to fight for justice without taking on a sort of culture warrior mentality. So I think we realized, we weren’t just engaging in intellectual or policy debates, but having an impact on the way people view the Church and their own faith. And I think this became a critical part of our mission.
In terms of our writing outside of politics, I think some of our key themes are authenticity, joy (as I mentioned), embracing community, reaching out to those on the margins, living virtuously and counterculturally, but not by withdrawing from the world around us, and exploring how we can turn our faith into action.
Some of these line up with what millennials on a more general level value and desire. I think young people see hypocrisy as the deadliest sin, though of course, many wouldn’t call it that. But what does it really mean to keep it real? The Church has an answer—it’s authenticity. Like St. Catherine said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” And it’s joy. Young people are desperate to escape boredom. They crave meaning and purpose and happiness. The Church has the answer: embrace love. Embrace the other virtues. Embrace the people around you and the vulnerable, those on the margins. This is where you find purpose; this is where you find joy; and this is where you find God. The answers are there, but you have to be willing to break from a culture that often fosters individualism and narcissism and superficiality and the objectification of others. We’re trying to show how to be countercultural in such a world to have meaning and joy. At the same time, we can still laugh at ourselves and the idiosyncrasies of being Catholic—like posting the recent SNL skit of Christmas mass or a meme that pokes fun at something we do as Catholics—while still being devout. We can be serious about our faith without taking ourselves too seriously.
Both Chris and I deeply admire Pope Benedict, but it is difficult to overstate the impact Pope Francis’ message and focus and worldwide appeal has had on the way Millennial has developed. Some of our most important themes have been central to his papacy, which is encouraging, and he has opened our eyes on others, such as the migration crisis in Europe.
While we have strongly supported Pope Francis’ leadership of the Church, we have also been willing to disagree with him. We are not afraid to challenge him or any other leaders of the Church where we think they could provide greater moral leadership, such as in pressing for the international community to act to protect the Syrian people from mass murder or on issues like empowering women and girls around the world, which I personally see as critical to building the common good and an area where the Pope and the Vatican can still do more. So while we love Pope Francis and think he is doing amazing things, as is clear from even a cursory glance at Millennial, we don’t have any desire to become sycophants and we will continue to stand for what we think is right.
Ultimately we are trying to explore what it means to embrace our faith as young Catholics in the 21st century. This means addressing the most pressing political issues of the day, whether in Washington DC or the Central African Republic. It means addressing the challenges of living spiritually rich lives in the turbulence of modern life and a culture where the violation of human dignity is not uncommon, but beauty and community and love are still present, something that I think is well addressed in The Jesuit Post on Millennial and God in All Things at Millennial, as well as by our other many talented, thoughtful writers, as they reflect on their own experiences. And that’s what we really aim to be: thoughtful and nuanced, to present an affirmative vision of the common good and human flourishing. To try to understand the Way of Christ and to live it.