The Liberating Arts Book Launch.” If you’ll be in NYC this September 28th, join us for a panel discussion and book launch event for a book I co-edited on the enduring relevance of a liberal arts education. Roosevelt Montás will be talking with Zena Hitz, Jonathan Tran, and Jessica Hooten Wilson about the book.

Fans Waited 31 Years for his Next Novel. It’s Finally Here.” John Williams talks with David James Duncan, author of the masterpieces The River Why and The Brothers K, about his new novel: “Duncan was hesitant to discuss the beguines, an order of feminist, non-cloistered mystics who lived in self-sufficient communities in the 13th and 14th centuries, who serve as an inspiration to the characters in “Sun House.” (“You’ve landed right on a real minefield of spiritual secrecy.”) But from the little he said — and more, from what’s in the book — it’s clear that he thinks they offer a model for how some of our long recovery might occur.”

Conservatism’s Humanist Road Not Taken.” Jeffery Tyler Syck commends the conservative vision that Peter Viereck outlined and defended in the mid-twentieth century: “there is still much we can learn from Viereck’s alternative vision for the conservative movement. Perhaps most importantly, that the contemporary emphasis on free market capitalism as a foundational principle of conservatism is a relatively new concept, and not one we should feel continuously obligated to uphold. One need not be a national conservative to recognize, as Viereck did, that capitalism destroys the roots of a strong community rather than supporting them.” (Recommended by Bernie Franceschi.)

Dirty Work.” Kurt Armstrong describes some pretty nasty jobs he’s done—and the bodily wisdom he’s learned doing so: “I have spent most of my life doing work that requires me to use my whole body, not just eyeballs and a clicking finger. And I have come to learn that manual labour can be good work, that skilled labour is not mindless, that exhausting work can be deeply satisfying, and that even a stinky, slimy, grimy, smeary, nasty job can be a locus of the sacred.”

RFK Jr.’s Weird Evangelical Appeal Is on Shaky Ground.” Bonnie Kristian cautions those who may be attracted to RFK Jr.’s rhetoric: “forming political alliances on anti-establishment vibes alone . . . has ample energy for tearing down, but little thought for what we might rebuild. And after an unsettled political decade, we should be wary of taking up whatever sledgehammer comes to hand.”

Unspeakable Wonder.” Matthew Walther asks the muses to sing in praise of Shohei Ohtani: “It is one of those strange accidents of providence—a divine joke of sorts—that Ohtani should have appeared only now, in a historical moment that should otherwise be characterized by a kind of all-embracing crepuscular gloom, when it is probably too late for America’s game.”

How Do We Steward a Fish? Derek W. Taylor takes a hard look at the limitations of stewardship and argues that we must first recognize our status as creatures. Along the way, he gives a delightful account of the creatures who live in his local river: “There is something impractical about symbolic gestures like releasing a salmon that will not survive. Perhaps this is the point. These acts won’t change the world. But they witness to the world as it could be. They remind us that another world is possible. Acts like this prevent me from descending into hopeless despair. Yes, dams are destroying a species. But a Chinook salmon just swam past my legs.”

Treasure in the Skip.” Comment has two recent articles on inspiring educational visions. In the first, Deani Van Pelt and Elaine Cooper relate the recovery and importance of Charlotte Mason’s approach: “When society arrives at moments of realization that a different direction and nourishment is needed, the quiet, unseen work of a faithful few caring, tilling, cultivating, studying, mixing, and fertilizing finds a day in which the seeds finally germinate and the plants begin to unfurl. The changes we seek in our societies and communities, the new institutions we would wish to build, and the little platoons living out better stories ought to be freshly thought through while remaining rooted in that unchanging revelation that inspired educationists like Charlotte Mason, whose renewed and renewing legacy lives on.”

Let Them Be Born in Wonder.” And in the second Fr. Francis Bethel recounts what it was like being part of the famous Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas: “The main biweekly class was unique in history. It was not a lecture in the strict sense, but simply a conversation among the three teachers. Usually one of the three would read a passage from the currently assigned book, and then the three would meditate with the students on a theme that grew out of the reading. Here were three friends who enjoyed looking at beautiful things together and helping students discover them.”

My Hope for American Discourse.” Tish Harrison Warren has a wise warning in her essay explaining why she’s stepping down from her position at the New York Times: “there is danger in becoming a pundit, particularly on matters of faith and spirituality. It can be deadening. I plan to continue to write about faith, to explore its impact on politics, study it sociologically, think about its metaphors and claims of truth. But for any person of faith, public engagement must be balanced with times of withdrawal, of silence, prayer, questioning and wonder beyond the reach of words.”

Why you Should be a Thick Traveller.” Chris Arnade reflects on the kind of travel he aims to practice and the benefits it can bring: “culture is about why we think we are here, and why we think it’s worth being here. Where the ‘thin description’ asks ‘how do you live?’, the ‘thick description’ asks: ‘Why do you live?’ . . . For me, to travel is to learn how to be human, by observing the variety of ways you can be human.”

A Simple Law Is Doing the Impossible. It’s Making the Online Porn Industry Retreat.” Marc Novicoff is talking about one of the few issues in the US where bipartisanship is alive and well: age verification laws for porn websites. “These bills didn’t originate from some evangelical PAC or conservative think tank. Their actual origin was, ironically, The Howard Stern Show.”

Talking to Strangers.” Dixie Dillon Lane questions the common injunction to not talk to strangers: “without such contact with strangers, what social fabric do we have? What is there to connect us? No, talking to strangers (responsibly) can in fact be a very good thing.”

Why This AI Moment May Be the Real Deal.” Ari Schulman offers an account of why new AI technologies like ChatGPT represent a real advance on previous efforts to digitize intelligence: “It is too early to say that the new AI class is an inherently antihuman technological paradigm, as social media has proven itself to be. But it is not too early to suspect that AIs will dwarf social media in their power to disrupt modern life. If that is so, we had better learn some new and unfamiliar ways of interrogating this technology, and fast. Whatever these entities are — they’re here.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Re: Bonnie Kristian, this tweet is apropos:
    “MAGA isn’t a cult of personality—many who voted for Trump find him personally distasteful. You don’t throw a hand grenade into the deep state, the media, and the corrupt regime because you’re in love with the hand grenade. You throw it because you want your target destroyed.”

    And that is why RFK Jr has appeal, regardless of if you think “anti-establishment” isn’t enough…
    The prior GOP president was a nice respectable earnest evangelical, who has said absolutely nothing about the end of Roe. Not one word. He clearly hates GOP voters, sure does love elected Dems and lobbyists, though.

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