Have you registered for our fall conference taking place in two weeks at Grove City College? Registration closes on the 17th, so don’t delay! We haven’t held a conference since 2019, and it will be great to see many of you in person for a day of lively discussion.
“Property, Properly.” The American Mind kicks of a symposium on Mark Mitchell’s new book, published by FPR Books, with this excerpt: “The ownership of property is one means by which certain virtues necessary for a healthy and free society can be cultivated.” The first response is by Daniel J. Mahoney.
“America’s Bad Bet on Sports Gambling.” Christopher Caldwell details the noxious growth of sports gambling and the way it siphons money out of local communities: “Sports gambling, in short, doesn’t have the look of a popular cause. It has the look of a corporate cause masquerading as a popular cause.”
“Two Philosophers Found Purpose in the World of Work.” Robert Zaretsky and George Alliger turn to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Simone Weil for help in understanding the relationship between philosophy and work, contemplation and action: “For both these thinkers, it is a duty to use our minds and hands together, so that our own powers mesh with the resisting gears of the world. Work conspires to reconnect us to that world and ourselves. Perhaps this, too, should be an object of contemplation come Labor Day.”
“Does Biden Really Believe We Are in a Crisis of Democracy?” Ross Douthat thinks the answer is “no.” Instead, Biden—like many politicians these days—thinks that keeping his base afraid of the alternative might motivate them to vote for Democrats. Neither party feels the need to reassess their platforms and personalities when it’s easier to stick with the status quo and rely on the unpopularity of their opposition to keep voters in line: “In the debate about the risks of Republican extremism, the debate the president just joined, it’s still important to judge the leaders of the Democratic Party by their behavior. You may believe that American democracy is threatened as at no point since the Civil War, dear reader, but they do not. They are running a political operation in which the threat to democracy is leverage, used to keep swing voters onside without having to make difficult concessions to the center or the right.”
“A Pilgrimage to a Maine Island in the Footsteps of John Steinbeck.” Howard Fishman visits the island in Maine where Steinbeck began his beloved book about driving across America with his dog: “If Travels With Charley tells us anything, it’s to disregard the obvious, to seek out the unexpected, to remain curious, to follow our gut.”
“How Weed Became the New OxyContin.” Leighton Akira Woodhouse lays out the way in which corporations have jumped onto the cannabis bandwagon and are profiting from the addictive and damaging product: “‘I got into addiction medicine because of the opioid crisis,’ said Dr. Roneet Lev, an addiction medicine doctor in San Diego who hosts a podcast about drug abuse. Years ago, she advocated against the overprescription of opioid painkillers like OxyContin. Now, she believes she’s seeing the same thing all over again: the specious claims of medical benefits, the denial of adverse effects. ‘From Big Tobacco to Big Pharma to Big Marijuana—it’s the same people, and the same pattern.’”
“Hillbilly Thomists: Dominicans Tracing their Roots into Appalachian Music and Faith.” Terry Mattingly reviews the new album from one of my favorite groups: “It wouldn’t shock old-school country fans if this was a Johnny Cash song. But it was written by a banjo-playing Dominican from Georgia who has an Oxford theology doctorate and now leads the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.”
“Much To Spew About Nothing.” Jesse Merriam compares the thinking of two New Right conservatives and argues they have more in common with the status quo than might appear at first blush: “Vermeule and Hazony accept and often celebrate the changes that have made this new America—immigration, civil rights, centralization, urbanization, juridicization, etc.—but they propose solutions that could work only in the old America.”
“Life in the Present.” Sarah Clark has a deft and perceptive review of the best new novel I’ve read this year: “Eugene Vodolazkin’s newest novel, Brisbane, is about many things, but at heart, I think it’s about precisely that—about learning to be human, and to be Christian, especially in the face of death. Which is another way of saying, it’s about the universal experience of learning how to live.”
“A Neo-Distributist Proposal.” Chris Smaje outlines four key commitments of distributist thinking and considers its prospects: “First, the autonomy-in-community of local livelihood-making, grounded in distributed access to private land and commons. Second, political and economic subsidiarity. Third, an emphasis on work as a spiritual value in creating a decent local livelihood; and fourth, an emphasis on the household as a unit of joint production and consumption.”
“Christian Nationalism: An Existential Threat?” Mark David Hall reviews Paul Miller’s new book and assesses the debates around the meaning and significance of Christian nationalism: “Miller and other critics vastly exaggerate the threat of Christian nationalism, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. It does, and The Religion of American Greatness offers a reasonable critique of it from an insider’s perspective.”