Neil Jumonville, in his introduction to The New York Intellectuals Reader defines what a public intellectual is:
The term public intellectual describes one who is a generalist knowledgeable about cultural and political matters and whose ideas reach a substantial public. Their writings cross disciplines, and although they know much about the past and often address it directly, they train their analysis on contemporary debates. The intellectual role is different from that of scholars. Intellectuals usually write in periodicals for a general educated public while scholars write for their professional peers in books or refereed scholarly journals. Because they often address contemporary issues, intellectuals tend to write book reviews, columns and articles partly because the pace of cultural debate requires a rapid response not available through the long gestation period of books.
Maybe one of the reasons Christians are not having a greater impact in shaping our culture is because we need more public intellectuals. We have plenty of scholars (thank God for this), and even more subculture icons (I’m sure you know what I think about that). But where are our public intellectuals?
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