“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Colosseum.” James Matthew Wilson writes about the hope-giving state of American Catholic letters.
“Warning: Chinese Authoritarianism is Hazardous to Your Health.” Chen Guangcheng argues that the Chinese Communist Party “has succeeded in turning a public health crisis into a human rights catastrophe.”
“The Age of Decadence.” Ross Douthat makes the case that we are living in a decadent age:
What if we — or at least we in the developed world, in America and Europe and the Pacific Rim — really inhabit an era in which repetition is more the norm than invention; in which stalemate rather than revolution stamps our politics; in which sclerosis afflicts public institutions and private life alike; in which new developments in science, new exploratory projects, consistently underdeliver?
“The American Dream was Built on ‘Handouts.’” Gracy Olmstead reminds us that Americans have always “made it” not simply by pluck or grit, but by helping one another: “Success in our country has never been exclusively an issue of income or individualism — it is also deeply reliant on community and culture, on the religious and cultural associations that help a place (and everyone in that place) thrive.”
“Can Farming Make Space for Nature?” Sam Knight explores how Brexit may lead to different incentives for British farmers, and he profiles the work of Jake Fiennes who seeks to align farming with wild patterns: “I want more edge. Everything is about edge.”
“The Nuclear Family Was Never Going to Last.” David Brooks mourns the gradual loss of large, inter-generational extended families:
If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.
“The Law That Ate the Constitution.” Helen Andrew reviews Christopher Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement.
“In Defense of Childhood Boredom.” Teaching our children to embrace boredom, Gracy Olmstead writes, gives them “the capacity—the wisdom, even—to be quiet and still in a culture that runs off entertainment and clicks, flashes of light and pleasure that rewire our brains and deaden us to the beauty of the world around us.”
“Replace the Elite.” Patrick Deneen reviews Michael Lind’s new book and finds much to commend. He offers a different solution, however, to the problems Lind diagnoses:
Not unlike the managerial elite he criticizes, Lind fails to draw the correct conclusion from his own analysis. What’s needed is not “democratic pluralism” in which the ruling class remains a neoliberal, managerial elite who strategically concede some wealth and status to their inferiors. What’s needed is a fundamental displacement of the elite ethos by a common-good, popular conservatism that directs both economic goals and social values toward broadly shared material and social capital, toward the support of family and community life.
“Screaming into the Architectural Void.” Justin Lee points out some of the ironies that abound in the wake of a proposed executive order to “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”
“Kayaking With Lambs.” Brian Miller describes a humorous farming adventure.