These and other trends have made me sensible of how different our circumstances are from those in which Neuhaus learned to speak as both a Christian and an intellectual, circumstances that were still to some degree in force when First Things was founded in 1990. As Christians, we have a place to stand—in the Church. But in this cultural moment our churches are anxious, ambivalent, and unsure (unlike mainline Protestantism in its heyday). Which means that as intellectuals, we have no solid ground.

Neuhaus always thought of himself as speaking from the center of what he liked to call the “American experiment.” I’m certainly patriotic, but I see myself speaking from the periphery. We are dissidents, not “intellectuals.”

Speaking from the Peripheries | R. R. Reno | First Things. The distinction between intellectual and dissident strikes me as a very important one. So maybe the key question is not “How might Christian intellectuals become truly ‘public’ once again?” but rather “How might intelligent Christians faithfully and effectively play their role as dissidents — as something like the not-wholly-loyal opposition to the current power-knowledge regime?”