“The Death Spiral of an American Family.” Eli Saslow profiles a family in Detroit who are at loose ends after the death of their patriarch, a man who had done well for himself and yet ended up dying with not even enough money to pay for his funeral. It is a difficult story, yet the members of this family are carrying on as best as they can in hard circumstances.
“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Bill Kauffman speaks a word in defense of friendships (and the value of shutting up about politics): “We live in a ridiculous age in which politics has become so central to so many sad lives that friendships are now bewinged. Disagreements over such nullities as AOC and Joe Biden are the source of ruptured relationships and bitter words that can never be taken back.”
“Originalism on American Terms.” Jason Ross reviews two recent books and considers today’s vigorous debates over the founding, originalism, and various judicial alternatives. He concludes that these conversations point to the enduring tension at the heart of the American experiment: “Americans were, and have always been, a people constituted politically—by a Constitution drafted and ratified through a deliberative process—while also being a people who deprecate politics.”
“Mainstream Media have Failed to Notice their own Disinformation Issue.” Megan McArdle corrects the misperception that disinformation is solely a right-wing phenomenon. Recognizing it as an ecosystem-wide problem is at least a step toward finding remedies.
“Tradition, Place, and Things Divine.” John G. Grove commends the work of the Ciceronian Society, which recently held a conference at Grove City College. I certainly enjoyed spending time with the attendees and hearing some of the papers: “the Ciceronians are looking to establish a community rooted in friendship rather than the pursuit of a specific shared goal. The organization is unlikely to change the world, but may serve as a help to those trying to care for their little pocket of it.”
“Why We’re Required to Find Beauty.” Tsh Oxenreider draws on C.S. Lewis’s sermon “Learning in Wartime” to resist the totalizing pull of war stories and disaster images: “To put it bluntly, the many atrocities of our fallen world are worth dying for — but they’re not worth living for. And far too often our zeitgeist demands that we live for the abominations lest we appear uncaring at best, siding with the enemy at worst. We’ve forgotten beauty.”
“The ‘Dumbest Generation’ has Finally Grown Up.” Jeffrey Polet reviews Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation Grows Up and details the consequences that accrue when a generation fails to pass on its cultural and intellectual heritage to the next.
“Forgetting the Fall.” Brian Smith describes Robert Tracy McKenzie’s We the Fallen People as an attempt “to understand the shift from a republican polity founded on an understanding of human flaws to a democratic nation perpetually forgetting the proper limits of politics.” Near the end of his essay, Smith applies McKenzie’s historical lessons more broadly than McKenzie himself does.
“Christians in the Gray Zone: The Strong Gods are Back.” Jake Meador seeks a Christian politics that is at odds with both the new left and the new right. He outlines a way forward that is ordered toward a shared sense of the transcendent yet marked also by mercy and love.
“Mystery.” Wilfred McClay writes on behalf of mystery, not merely the kind of mystery that is a puzzle to solve but that which is a numinous reality we must live with.
“The Ohio Poet Laureate Who Writes About Hank Williams, McDonald’s and Favorite Dogs.” John Miller praises the rooted poetry of Kari Gunter-Seymour, poet laureate of Ohio, who, “for example, might criticize her country’s wars or her town’s mine or factory employer, but will always stand up for soldiers and workers.”
“The Mystery of Being Human in a Dehumanizing World.” Joshua Heavin describes how working with people who have various disabilities foregrounds the inherent dignity and value of all those made in the image of God.
“Recovering Piety.” Alan Jacobs writes about piety as a necessary formation for engaging in argument rightly: “because in my experience it’s far less common for debating Christians to be uninformed than it is for them to be angry, truculent, and uncharitable—and to the degree that they are, they reflect a lack of preparation, a lack of piety.”
“The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, A Philosophy, A Warning.” Julien Crockett interviews Justin E. H. Smith about his new book, the very long history of the Internet, and why social media debate is mostly a simulacrum.
“Blue Light Special.” Colman Rowan signs on to work at a Kmart that is closing down. He gets to know the employees and the building left behind when everything is being “liquidated.”