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The Public Discourse Summer Reading List: 2024

Here's what our editors are reading this summer.
The law is a teacher, and so is social experience. A society in which abortion is not only legal, but common and easily available, teaches people to regard it as not a big deal. In contrast, restricting abortion sends the message that it is, at the least, a serious matter.
When we reject suffering and seek to replace it with artificiality, we miss our invitation to submit to the conditions under which love flourishes. We also lose sight of the meaning and purpose of our existence, which is not to pursue our own comfort and convenience, but to love God and our neighbor, even when that involves sacrifice and hardship.
Enabling “the good death” begins with reviving attentiveness. We must first attend to the dying in our own communities. Care for the dying, in turn, enlivens reflectiveness on our own death. To advocate increased attendance in the death chamber is not meant to scare, nor to set up a macabre museum. It is instead a reminder that all men are mortal and that one’s eternal destiny is of the utmost urgency. It is instead a way to reintroduce and refine the art of dying well. 
Originalism is a theory of interpretation, but like any form of legal interpretation, it means little unless applied to facts. And facts are wrapped up in stories. Judge Thapar’s book is a reminder not to forget this.
Human flourishing does not require escaping the cares and travails of this world, but rather, it imbues them with significance in the light of the Eternal One, in whom we live and move and have our being.
To get us out of the self-consuming ouroboros of frantically chasing experiences rather than investing in home and relationships will require a greater attention to virtues of thrift, local commitment, and a lower bar for what “living comfortably” looks like. Choosing to do hard things—to start a family, have kids, invest in local institutions, and put others before ourselves—requires a formation in values that lie outside the market. 
Education should rehumanize us. In higher education, with the guidance of professors and mentors and elders, we should move through Homer, Newton, Wordsworth, Du Bois, O’Connor, and be transformed by our love for the good, true, and beautiful, into the person we are meant to be.
Israelis celebrate their writers, artists, scientists, jurists, industrialists, and statesmen who fought wars of life and death. And of course there are other ways to serve—caring for the mentally ill, for abandoned children, for the elderly and sick. I am grateful for all of these exemplars. But for me, it will always be specifically the young men and women who go to the army intending to return (many, alas, do not return) to their studies when their missions are done. These people go on to have families, large ones, and jobs of all kinds, and different hobbies and interests and vocations. Their commitments are ordered by a conscious dedication to the Lord of all flesh.
If young people are taught to look at history only through the lenses of power and oppression, they will conclude that power and oppression are everything. Conversely, let them be introduced first to the genuinely great historical deeds, philosophical ideas, literary creations, and works of art of which humans have been capable. Then they will discover the ideals that moved our predecessors.
Indeed, a person in such a crisis seems like he or she has a deep need for truthful communication. Once more, not every truth needs to be communicated. But the important truths that they are loved, that their life is of value, and that they have much to live for, can only be convincingly imparted by one whose trustworthiness is manifested by his or her unwillingness to speak falsely. The beginning of a clinical relationship seems to me precisely the wrong time to lead by saying what one thinks is false.
The attraction of subjecting oneself to ideological thought, then, is a new form of something very old: the desire to escape the limitations and uncertainties of the human condition of knowledge and action by availing ourselves of a greater-than-human power.
David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed appropriately decries the antebellum American South’s practice of slavery, while acknowledging the South’s production of Americans who have also served the cause of freedom and truth.
For future CPD outcome documents and political declarations to be truly consensual and reflective of the priorities of all countries, states must ensure that the UN system as a whole stays away from ideological agendas and meets the authentic needs of the world.
If short stories are the wardrobe through which young people can pass into a world where they learn to appreciate novels as well, then the demise of magazine fiction is truly unfortunate. Let those teachers assign lots of classic short fiction. The taste of the young is developed in small helpings.
Constant supervision thwarts a child’s ability to develop important qualities such as resourcefulness, self-awareness, and perseverance. But independence with a strong inner compass, a compass that is oriented toward the safety and trustworthiness of healthy family relationships, helps children eventually carry that attached compass away from home and eventually calibrate it for themselves.
Canada’s infamy has led many to rethink their support for assisted dying, no matter how strong the purported safeguards may be.
Risks are essential to human flourishing. By taking measured risks—to our sanity, our financial stability, our perceived safety—we explore the limits of our ability to withstand discomfort, a posture that then allows us to care for others. In this way, well-ordered risk-taking is fundamentally others-oriented.
A review of The Bible and Poetry by Michael Edwards (translated by Stephen E. Lewis, Jr.)
So, why should a Christian study the humanities? Because it’s what God made us to do. Because by doing so we do participate in God’s knowing of the world and can thereby come to understand him. Because by study we can better understand scripture and our experience of God. Because it lets us enjoy non-Christian beauty and truth in the light of Christ. Because it can be a means of spiritual growth and shape our experience of the world. And because it can move us to praise God who is the Truth itself.
If we are to feel at one with the structures in which we labor and dwell, if they are to endorse our existence here on earth, beauty must take precedence over all other factors. Without it, the battle for the soul of civilization cannot be won.   
Understanding homemaking as a craft that produces beautiful (if intangible) results should hopefully encourage young men and women who are thinking about caring for a home and/or children. For the young mother or father overwhelmed by all there is to do and feeling incompetent in the face of the multiple—often conflicting—demands of house and children, it may help to know that homemaking is a skill to be developed over time.
Recovering art as a participation in God’s governance, and as co-creating with God, is crucial to the healthy formation of young people, our places of worship, and our everyday lives. 
For American families, housing has become too expensive. We can make it more affordable if we build enough housing. But in order to do that, we cannot stop at making it legal; we need to make it easy.