“The Good Death in Psalm 73.” Timothy Kleiser draws out the wisdom regarding mortality and human finitude in Margaret Edson’s moving play Wit with the help of Psalm 73.
“Can We Resurrect Expertise?” In this excerpt from her forthcoming book, Bonnie Kristian wrestles with the need for experts and the more fundamental need for virtue: “We have no shortcut around our need for virtue. Experts and nonexperts alike must pursue humility and respect.”
“Reaching the Adjacent.” Alan Jacobs asks a question we would all do well to ponder: “We are all, even the most peaceable among us, adjacent to people who are at least flirting with “the politics of personal destruction,” in one form or another, as an alternative to the long, slow work of persuasion. How can we use that adjacency to the advantage of our wounded social order?”
“C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the Inklings: Telling Stories to Save Lives.” Rachel Lu reflects on the quiet yet enduring power of friendship and storytelling: “The Inklings had a talent for friendship, but also a particular genius for making old things new. We need to relearn this art.”
“Veganism Might Not Be the Most Sustainable Diet.” Bob Holmes shows that the question of whether livestock contribute to a healthy ecology is more nuanced than fake-meat proponents make it out to be: “The upshot is that a world entirely without meat would require about one-third more cropland—and, therefore, more energy-intensive fertilizer, pesticides, and tractor fuel—to feed everyone, says Hannah van Zanten, a sustainable-food-systems researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. But that’s only if we’re talking about meat raised the right way and in the right amounts.”
“Student Loan Forgiveness Is Left-Wing Trickle-Down Economics.” Charles Stallworth expresses frustration with the proposals to cancel student debt: “If they are so committed to canceling debt, why not push for car loan forgiveness, or medical debt forgiveness, which would help more classes of people and would in many ways be cheaper? And therein lies the ugly truth: Progressives are not rallying for those causes because they don’t focus on who progressives really care about: highly educated elites.”
“Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness is Wrong. Here’s How to Handle College Debt Instead.” Oren Cass begins by asking a good question: “By what logic is ‘borrowed money for college’ a sensible standard for selecting the recipients of unprecedented public beneficence?” He then proceeds to propose some potential ways of changing the system by which we finance college education. I don’t know whether these are the right ideas, but they are at least addressing the underlying problem.
“Corresponding with Buechner.” Mischa Willett tries to articulate what the writing and vision of Frederick Buechner meant for him: “Nothing isn’t holy for him if we pay attention to it aright. And since the artist’s work, in any genre, is primarily an act of paying a kind of attention, a great many of us found him a guide to a certain way of being in the world.”
“Clowns Have Captured the GOP.” Park MacDougald describes the uninspiring slate of candidates that many Americans have to choose between this fall. Biden is deeply unpopular, but the GOP has nominated “weak, unproven, and at times cartoonishly bad Senate candidates.” As MacDouglad concludes, “In a perfect world, it wouldn’t take yet another Trump defeat to convince the GOP to move past the man. But we’re not living in that world, so something tells me that it will.”
“The Radical Political Power of Friendship.” Alissa Wilkinson describes how friends helped Arendt “think, but they also modeled a crucial concept: Revolutions may be happening all over the world, but right here, in this little group, in this little apartment, among friends and frenemies, the subversive potential of friendship was constantly unfolding.”
“‘I Lost My Mom to Facebook’: How to Shepherd a Flock Being Formed by Algorithms.” Patrick Miller offers some possible ways to pastor those being sucked into the social media machine: “Over a period of three years, her elderly mom went from Facebook illiterate to Facebook junkie. From a great-grandma liking photos of her great-grandkids to a full-blown QAnon conspiracy theorist posting wild articles. Sherry watched her mom transform from a godly woman who quoted the Sermon on the Mount and told her to respond to bullies by ‘killing them with kindness’ to an anxiety-filled propagandist, warning Sherry the end was coming.”
“What Do We Mean by Liberal Education?” Wilfred McClay ponders the tensions inherent in the process of liberal education: “The mark of a genuinely liberal education is that it aims at instilling a set of paradoxical qualities, which are often quite fiercely at odds with one another: the capacity for inquiry, and the capacity for membership.”
“Book Publishers Just Spent 3 Weeks in Court Arguing They Have no Idea What They’re Doing.” Constance Grady makes sense of the strange trial underway to determine whether two of the largest publishers can merge: “Over the course of the trial that ensued, publishers would continue to insist on their existing public image as helpless incompetents at the whims of larger companies and an irrational market. The government, meanwhile, stuck to the narrative that the publishers were savvy operators who knew exactly what they were doing with their billion-dollar companies. The question of which story was most convincing will help decide the future of American antitrust law.”
“One Cheer for Purdy.” Antón Barba-Kay offers an incisive and rather critical review of Jedidiah Purdy’s Two Cheers for Politics: “Purdy’s wedding of socialist Bernie and agrarian Berry is generous and hopeful. But it remains a spiritual vision, one too unfocused to make pragmatic contact with the here and now of our experience of political life.”