Editor’s Note: Interimeditor Paul Tuns interviewed Dan Di Rocco, chair of the business board of The Interim and editor of the forthcoming anthology from the first 35 years of Interimwriting, We Told You So, Honestly.
Paul Tuns:What was the motivation for publishing an anthology ofInterimarticles?
Dan Di Rocco:The paper has served a huge need in pro-life communications. It filled that need with professionalism, passion, and yes, even love. The motivation of compiling the anthology is to preserve some of the treasured articles from a pro-life newspaper, with a view to educate, inform, inspire, and help the reader recall the genesis and development of key life and family issues since the early 1980s. The collective efforts of editors, writers, and columnists were of high quality and often so visionary in nature that it was worth making others aware of The Interim’srole in telling the pro-life story and doing so honestly.
PT:Some people think print is dying? Why publish this in book form?
DD:Actually, print is still the preferred mode of expression and reading for the majority of our readership according to surveys we have done over the years. Yes, many readers also access the internet, but the print medium offers a kind of tangible experience. Many people value the concrete feel of paper. The anthology ought to appear in a form that adheres to its origins and honours that mode of expression still much valued by its readers. The book form also makes the collection easier to read and enjoy because of the way in which the articles are arranged by theme.
PT:It seems that there are two audiences in mind. The long-time, faithtfulInterimreader and those who may not be familiar with the publication. What would each group get out of re-reading or reading “old articles”?
DD: Sometimes “old articles” are new, because of what has been either forgotten by the most faithful of readers or because of a lack of broader historical perspective on the part of new readers. In essence the anthology can educate, inform, refine, or bring to mind important issues as they have developed or changed or remained intractably the same over the years.
PT:Over 35 years, The Interimhas published thousands of articles. How did you choose the best 40-50? What criteria did you use to decide which articles would be considered and how did you wean the final 100 or so articles down to those that made it into the anthology?
DD: It was a very demanding process. A basic set of criteria was agreed upon. For example, articles would have to be of a certain length; be individually significant but addressing or contributing to a larger theme; help explain why the paper came into being; show the prophetic vision of the writer; demonstrate originality and incisiveness; show the evolution of issues over the course of 35 years; show the variety of writers; illustrate the breadth and depth of issues dealt with. As for the actual selection, themes were identified and hundreds of articles were farmed out for reading, review, and critique to a number of volunteers, both long-time readers and young pro-lifers. Each person was given copies of articles within a framework of a particular theme (for example, marriage and family) and asked to recommend their preferred ones based on the established criteria. The first selection produced some 175 articles. These were then reviewed again by a smaller group of readers and editors including the paper’s founding editor Jim Hughes and current Campaign Life Coalition national president Jeff Gunnarson, who whittled them down to a more manageable number while keeping the criteria firmly in mind. Then a final selection was made by a committee of four people associated with The Interimin different capacities. The full process took over a full year, much longer than we anticipated.
PT:As you read through three-and-a-half decades of The Interim, were there recurring themes that the paper addressed over the years?
DD:Inevitably one would read again and again about abortion and euthanasia, conscience laws and free speech, judicial activism, challenges of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, claims of overpopulation and demographic trends, problems at the United Nations and various UN-sponsored conferences, marriage and family, bioethical issues, the homosexual agenda, human rights commission over-reach, pro-life electoral strategies and advice to voters, the March for Life and other public witnessing and activism, efforts to introduce various pro-life motions and bills, the importance of moral and spiritual leadership, the problematic implications of certain legislative measures, feminism and feminists, changes in education and sex education. This is not surprising as these issues and themes have been and remain integral to the ongoing culture wars in which we are engaged. Most of these issues are represented in the anthology.
PT:Reading some of the articles that were considered for inclusion, it is sad but unsurprising that many of the issues we deal with today were written about 10, 20, and even 30 years ago. Are you concerned that the publication of some of these articles that demonstrate the battle has been going on for so long could demoralize those in the pro-life movement?
DD:There is always a danger of fatigue, but on the other hand there can be renewed resolve to continue the battle precisely because so much has been lost, the odds have been so great against the pro-life movement and yet we are still standing up and we have not gone away. Deep down, people with strong beliefs and honest principles recognize that if it took decades to get society into the mess it finds itself, it will certainly require decades to build a healthy culture of life. The anthology does not only repeat old themes but helps to provide a record and a welcome historical perspective of the great struggle of the day. That’s why the title is so apt: We Told You So, Honestly.
PT:Do you have a favourite article in the anthology?
DD: No, but there are several that I find amusing and illuminating. These are special in their own inimitable way. There is room for humour and gentle satire even in an anthology devoted to articles about serious life and family issues. I would urge readers to order a copy. They will not be disappointed. Readers will get a good taste of what The Interimand the times were all about.