From the President
For 30 years, The Rockford Institute has carried out its mission of defending and advancing â€œthe principles of a free society.â€ Founded in the year of the nationâ€™s bicentennial celebration, the Institute has worked to preserve the institutions of the Christian West: the family, the Church, and the rule of law; private property, free enterprise, and moral discipline; high standards of learning, art, and literature.
This is a daunting task for the limited staff and resources we have available, but through the generous support of board members and supporters, we have succeeded in crafting a series of ongoing programs and special projects to deal with the critical issues of our time. The Center for International Affairs has led the way in reporting on the threat of militant Islam; our special project on property is working on concrete proposals to limit the power of eminent domain recently strengthened by the Supreme Court; our Center for the Restoration of Humane Learning provides distance-learning courses to homeschooling families and Christian schools as well as seminars and programs on â€œthe great tradition.â€ Our monthly magazine, Chronicles, fearlessly takes on the false idols of contemporary culture and offers the authentic alternativeâ€”a Christian civilization that is also rooted in the classical tradition.
My colleagues and I are proud to be working for the most important â€œthink tankâ€ located between the two coasts and just as proud to represent an organization that has given a voice to the Silent Majority.
In 1976, educator and cultural critic Dr. John Howard founded The Rockford Institute. Alarmed by the preceding decadeâ€™s social revolution, Dr. Howard understood that the afflictions America faced would not be cured by politicians. The great political battles of our time grow out of cultural conflicts that do not admit of easy resolution, and even the most brilliant legislative solutions will fail if they are not supported by sound cultural institutions that form the character of the next generation. Dr. Howard also saw that too much was at stake to invest hope in those for whom expedience often takes precedence over truth. For 200 years, the American republic had tended the flame of Western Civilization in the New World, but would America remain part of the West?
While the principles and tenets of Western Christian Civilization are reflected in the law, they are nourished and passed on by cultural institutions: the Church, the family, schools, colleges and universities, publishing houses, the media, and even popular cultureâ€”film and recording studios, for example. It was on these cultural institutions that The Rockford Institute trained its analysis, not as a â€œthink tankâ€ of policy experts, but as a band of scholars whose understanding of theology, philosophy, history, and literature equipped them to defend the personal virtues and cultural principles without which civilization cannot exist. The Institute established its flagship monthly magazine, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, as its chief weapon in fighting the culture war.
Since its founding, The Rockford Institute has grown in scope and influence, but its work remains guided by the truth that there are no legislative solutions to cultural problems. Indeed, the Instituteâ€™s motto, Nolite confidere in principibus (â€œput not your trust in princesâ€â€”Psalm 146:3), reflects this belief and declares that our ultimate trust is in God. The Institute does not, however, ignore politicsâ€”far from it. Indeed, the Instituteâ€™s focus on the whole of American life enables its scholars to discuss policy more profoundly than the countless public-policy groups attempting in vain to reform a decaying society simply by passing legislation. Strengthening the Instituteâ€™s understanding of the American crisis is its Midwestern location, which informs the Instituteâ€™s ideas and keeps it in close touch with Americaâ€™s heartland and the aspirations of her people.
In 1997, Dr. Thomas Fleming, who also serves as the editor of Chronicles, was named president of the Institute. Under Dr. Fleming, the Institute pursues a wide range of activities directed toward the common purpose of reforming American culture. In addition to Chronicles, the Institute publishes books, operates a website (www.ChroniclesMagazine.org), and sends speakers to a variety of fora ranging from college campuses to civic, social, and religious groups. The Institute stages regular conferences in its hometown, as well as throughout the United States and abroad. It provides editorials and essays for newspapers, magazines, books, and other outside publications. Its staff make regular appearances on television and radio.
Under Dr. Fleming, the Institute founded the Center for the Restoration of Humane Learning in 2004. It developed out of the Instituteâ€™s long-term work in promoting the classical curriculum of the West and its growing interest in developing practical alternatives to Americaâ€™s dying educational institutions, both for adults seeking the college education they never had (whether they went to college or not), and for todayâ€™s young students who have no access to the curriculum that produced the Founders of the American republic and formed the American people.
Efficiently run, with a small staff, a modest physical plant that is owned outright, and a location far from the swollen rents and skyrocketing salaries of Washington and New York, the Institute represents an outstanding philanthropic value. The Institute can fairly claim a level of prescience and influence in public debate well out of proportion to its size, as well as a proven track record in disseminating sophisticated ideas and arguments to both influential and popular audiences.
â€œIn its inspirational and provocative writing, Chronicles demonstrates a refreshing commitment to traditional family values, the decentralization of political and economic life, liberty and adherence to truth. Staying true to these core values, Chronicles has earned the distinction of an authentic conservative magazine. Chronicles is a must-read publication for those searching for an intelligent conservative perspective on the issues facing America, today and tomorrow.â€
â€œThe hallmark of The Rockford Institute is its incorruptibility. The Rockford Institute and its banner journal, Chronicles, can neither be intimidated nor copied. American intellectual life would have resembled so much more singing in unison, had The Rockford Institute not come into existence.â€
â€œChronicles has become the toughest, best written, and most profoundly insightful journal in America. It drives the nail as deep and true as any magazine in print.â€
â€œIn my 40 years in Congress, I have been in contact with many organizations. The Rockford Institute has never been interested in profit for themselves, but rather the preservation and welfare of our Republic. To me, The Rockford Institute is the delayed voice of the Founding Fathers.â€
â€œInside the glossy covers of Chronicles you find a monthly eruption of defiance and dissent, a collection of incendiary views that are rarely heard in either the liberal or conservative cantons of the establishment.â€
â€œChronicles is the leading voice of authentic conservatism in the United States.â€
â€œThank you for your first-rate journal. What should be everyday discourse now sounds like a voice crying in the wilderness.â€