“Renunciation and Christian Happiness.” In this excerpt from her new book, Zena Hitz probes the paradox at the core of a Christian view of happiness: “Both Aristotle and Paul have radical ideas of the highest good: there is such a thing, and it is worth everything. And yet the highest good for Paul seems to require not self-fulfillment or self-actualization but self-sacrifice.”
“Cormac McCarthy’s Christ-Haunted Characters.” Alan Noble reviews McCarthy’s two new novels and considers how they differ from his previous works: “Transcendence isn’t entirely absent. Where violence, evil, love, or grace offered such transcendence in McCarthy’s previous works, here it seems that role is left to mathematics. Alicia is driven by a fanatical desire to work out the foundation of reality, some sure rock on which she can stand. And the abstract, limitless purity of mathematics seems like the most likely place to look.”
“Holy Hill.” In this excerpt from his recent book, Greg Gerke plumbs the wisdom of Geoffrey Hill to name the power of poetry: “Hill reveals … that one may take all five years’ worth of the lectures and reduce them to one quote he came upon in a Guardian interview of choreographer Mark Morris: “’I’m not interested in self-expression, but in expressiveness.’ So how do we go beyond and make art that will resonate over years and centuries? Hill would say it starts with knowing the history of our art, especially in the light of its current dimming.”
“How to Win the War that Everyone is Losing.” Daniel McCarthy makes a case for greater foreign policy realism and restraint: “When George Washington and the rest of our great early statesmen urged America to stay out of entanglements in Europe, they were thinking of the Old World’s endless ethnic and sectarian conflicts, the product of centuries of military force and migration mixing populations of conquerors and conquered, with one era’s losers rising again to claim revenge — and reclaim land — in a seemingly unbreakable cycle.”
“The Blues Idiom at Church.” Alan Jacobs commends the wisdom of Albert Murray, who “believed that the good times roll in response to suffering—that the suffering in a sense generates the good times. ‘What the customary blues-idiom dance movement reflects is a disposition to encounter obstacle after obstacle as a matter of course’—and something more than a matter of course. In ‘the blues tradition’ we see ‘the candid acknowledgment and sober acceptance of adversity as an inescapable condition of human existence—and perhaps in consequence an affirmative disposition towards all obstacles, whether urban or rural, whether political or metaphysical.’ An affirmative disposition toward all obstacles—this is the blues idiom in a phrase. Resistance and affliction as the necessary engines of creativity.”
“Antiracism’s Mission Drift.” In this radical provocation, Jonathan Tran argues that “American antiracism has detached itself from the very structures and systems it was meant to address and repair” and that racial capitalism, which “revolves around exploiting the earth and its people for profit,” continues unimpeded by the DEI industry.
“Only Murders in the Cathedral.” Benjamin Myers reviews Jane Clark Scharl’s new play and praises it as “a true experiment, a work that seems to be born out of curiosity, out of the spirit that says, “I wonder what would happen if….” This is the kind of ambition, not mere careerism, that produces worthwhile art. Sonnez Les Matines takes up serious matters, but it also fairly sings with the joy of experiment, of trying things out.”
“T. S. Eliot’s Still Point.” James Matthew Wilson takes stock of newly available materials from Eliot’s life and synthesizes Eliot’s work as a poet and writer. In particular, Wilson argues Eliot sought an alternative to the violence so embedded in his society: “These different kinds of failure were in part driven by a sense of the continuous conflict and instability that were history, but they were also informed by a quest of sorts. Was there any condition, any reality, that stood apart from the violence of history? A place where force was not simply met by competing force, but where stillness, silence, and peace might reign?”
“Why Political Science is Boring.” Lee Trepanier reviews Emily Hauptmann’s Foundations and American Political Science: The Transformation of a Discipline, 1945–1970 and argues that political science erred by prioritizing quantification rather than qualitative questions: “Despite this depressing state of affairs, I do think there is hope over the horizon for political science. Ironically it comes from private philanthropic foundations, like the Jack Miller Center and Heterodox Academy, which fund programs that are oriented towards teaching and public service rather than pure research.”
“Grace and the Parthenon Marbles.” Matthew Milliner proposes an elegant solution to the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles: “If the British government were to freely give the marbles back to Greece, it would not only illustrate recent claims for the sound moral character of the British; it would also set a good precedent for similar debates taking place among other museums and nations.”
“This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why.” Lisa Held details the process of drafting and passing the Farm Bill. She also discusses the possibilities for funding for local food systems and farmers who don’t grow commodity crops.
“In ‘Secret Harvests,’ Farmer Mas Masumoto Explores Questions of Legacy.” Caroline Hatano talks with David Mas Masumoto about his new book and what he’s learned as he nears retirement: “As I get into my late 60s, that’s the legacy I want to leave behind. Not an estate, not a big ranch, or a corporation—but the spirit of resilience. That’s exactly why I love certain heirloom varieties of fruit. They’re resilient to [have made it here]. And when someone bites into one of our peaches, they can taste that resilience.”