“The Great Stagnation—or Decline and Fall?” Patrick Deneen reviews Ross Douthat’s latest book with the help of Henry Adams and suggests our society is not merely decadent and stagnant—it is fragile and in decline.
“Crisis in the Liberal City.” Ross Douthat writes that the George Floyd protests have revealed the contradictions and hypocrisies that define modern cities.
“Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance.” Dan Diamond warns that sudden shifts in recommendations by health officials will continue to erode public trust in their guidance.
“Covid has Exposed America as a Failed State.” Aris Roussinos argues the virus will mark the end of America’s liberal empire.
“Bartering is Back.” Rachel Lerman writes about the rise of neighborhood bartering in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“Wendell Berry’s Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic.” Gracy Olmstead draws on “Health is Membership” to consider the implications of Berry’s understanding of health during this season of disease.
“Book Interview: Zena Hitz on the Pleasures and Values of the Intellectual Life.” Matt Hanson interviews Hitz about her recent book, and they discuss why we think and what sorts of institutions or communities might support this work.
“We Must Save Farmers’ Markets.” Ben Feldman and Kate Creps describe the challenges that farmers’ markets face in responding to COVID-19: “The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare many of the structural problems of our food system, not the least of which is the vital and underappreciated work that farmers’ market operators engage in to keep farmers in business and keep people fed.”
“The Way the Truth Gets In.” Tony Woodlief contrasts his own more academic approach to poetry with his brother’s visceral response: “My brother is an occasionally homeless alcoholic who knows how to love a poem. I have shelves of poetry books, and he has none. . . . I can recite a little Dickinson, some Frost, the requisite Auden. My brother can’t do any of that. The truth of it remains that he knows how to open himself up to a poem in a way that I do not.”
“The Last Temptation of Trump.” Elizabeth Bruenig wasn’t too impressed with President Trump’s Bible photo-op.
“The Million Masks of God.” Nathan Beacom meditates on Henry Ossawa Tanner’s life, theology, and artistic vision: “Race hatred (as he called it) was not just a personal attack, but an affront to divine justice. In a quiet way, his art was subverting the impulse to dehumanize by proclaiming in paint the dignity of the human person.”
“The False Meritocracy.” Amar Patel, the vice presidential candidate for the American Solidarity Party, reflects on the enduring effects of systemic racism.
“On the News.” Andy Crouch reminds us of the paradoxical truth: “the more the world is in apparent crisis, the less benefit you get from the news.”
“Trump Thinks He’s 2020’s ‘Law and Order’ Candidate. He’s Not.” Jamelle Bouie warns about the dangers of drawing historical analogies to unfolding events: “As we try to understand the forces at work in this country, we should do so with profound humility about the limits of what we can know and what we can foresee.”
“A Foretaste of James Howard Kunstler’s Long Emergency.” Addison Del Mastro reviews James Howard Kunstler’s latest book and surveys his warnings about our precarious economy: “Financial wizardry, in other words, has momentarily replaced cheap oil. If it becomes clear that the imagined wealth does not exist in the future, the entire scaffolding of the global industrial economy will collapse.”
“Wallace Stegner and the Conflicted Soul of the West.” A.O. Scott reconsiders Stegner’s work and legacy:
Stegner was critical of the individualistic ethos of the West in all its manifestations: romantic, entrepreneurial and countercultural. Sometimes that makes him sound like a left-wing critic of capitalism, sometimes like the deepest kind of conservative. His commitments to ecology, family and community against the forces of modern economic development leave him jarringly and thrillingly resistant to the ideological pigeonholing that has become our dominant form of cultural analysis.
“Embracing our Indebtedness: Caring Well for People and Planet.” Gracy Olmstead ponders an important question: “how can we redeem the work of caregiving, at a time when it’s sorely needed? “
“Revaluing the Real.” Scott Beauchamp reviews Simulation and Its Discontents by Sherry Turkle. He finds it “a useful artifact for understanding how the people who change our world the most directly—scientists and engineers—think about their tools and their goals.”