The Bookshelf: Audiobooks and the Recovery of Leisure Reading

Audiobooks’ greatest potential is to encourage a sense of receptivity and leisure throughout the rest of life, not just one’s reading life. Listening to a novel, accepting its rhythms and flow of detail on the book’s own terms, is a gentle reminder that life’s most glorious things demand quiet, silent admiration, and loving acceptance.
The movie’s most profound insight is its distillation of pop feminism: a praise of women so unceasing that we no longer feel comfortable being normal human beings with blemishes, weakness, and fertility.
Religiosity will rear its head in one way or another. If you are religious, you’ve wagered your life on particular and exclusive claims about who God is, what kind of world we’re in, and the kind of creatures we are. These stakes are impossibly high, and sensible political communities will vigilantly safeguard the sacred from the encroachment of politics.
As the sex work industry grows and moves online, it encourages a transactional view of relationships in mainstream culture.
Reading recommendations from Public Discourse and the Witherspoon Institute.
The final frontier for equality between the sexes—the missing tech fix—was always, how do we deal with reproduction? How do we deal with the different reproductive roles between the sexes? How can we use tech to flatten those differences? So reproductive inequality is the final frontier in replacing the sexes with the atomized, sexless, liberal person.
In modern societies, wealth is not tied to land or long-lasting material things, nor is it transmitted across generations; it is fluid, shapeshifting, and usually doesn’t extend beyond the horizon of our own lives and personal needs. This series attempts to offer fresh ways of imagining wealth so that it becomes more conducive to cultural vibrancy and helps us flourish.
Between the individual and government is a great bulk of institutions that could help us address the cultural challenges posed by tech. In addition to policy reforms and individuals’ weaning themselves off tech, we also need to create stigmas around social media and smartphone use—culturally agreed upon limits, including designated times and places where screen time is socially unacceptable.
Being perplexed means allowing other people and ideas to change or move you at times. Perplexity doesn’t seek cheap or easy answers to serious questions. And it isn’t satisfied with momentary highs from oversimplified and triumphant assertions, but prefers the rewards of prolonged contemplation. Perplexity also turns its sights from the grotesque, and doesn’t abuse its objects for the sake of stimulation or entertainment.
The only way that we can really meaningfully grapple with the Supreme Court's legitimacy is to ask: what was it actually built to do? Roe was wrong. It had become the political equivalent of a black hole, totally devoid of substance, but with such immense gravity that it distorts everything around it. Abortion, of course, isn’t going away as a political issue. The difference now will be that instead of having debates about Roe, we’ll debate about abortion.
With the Dobbs decision, many moms and their babies will no longer bear abortion’s hidden costs. In the longer term, we must make abortion a choice that no woman wants in the first place.
The continuity between administration and teaching for me has always had to do with the question of the moral, intellectual, and spiritual development of young people. Finding creative ways to meet students where they are and draw them into the most important questions is a source of endless fascination for me. When it comes to education, it may be the case that, as Alasdair MacIntyre argues, the only way to carry on sustained debate is from within and between rival traditions, assuming, that is, that members of a particular tradition are genuinely interested in engaging perspectives quite different from their own.
If the novel is by definition tightly bound to the human subject, then contemporary novels will suffer from the same decay and corrosion from which the contemporary soul suffers. Yet, despite the uneasy conditions facing both the novel and the world, the human soul remains remarkably resilient and fascinating. Sally Rooney’s latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You? ponders the profound disenchantment that haunts today’s souls and novels alike.
Reading recommendations from The Witherspoon Institute’s staff.
I think PD is doing important work in addressing modern spiritual challenges: even just acknowledging such problems from an explicitly religious perspective can hopefully get us closer to mitigating them. Both Judaism and Christianity also engender a kind of humility, as we look to the past for wisdom and acknowledge our indebtedness to those who came before us.
Our hope is that, by reading PD regularly, our readers will be formed in such a way that they have not only knowledge on particular topics, but also virtuous habits of mind. By illustrating the capacity to earnestly and carefully think through what’s good and what's bad about both conservative and liberal positions, we show that sobriety and careful, detached thinking is still possible—that we really can have knowledge about the truths that give order to our being.
True encounters with demonic activity ought to make today’s neopagans reconsider whether they should do more than cultivate eclectic spiritual identities.
We are all faced with a choice. Is meaning a futile attempt to mask the banal absurdity pervading everything? Or could there be divine purpose embedded within human existence?