I am thrilled to write to you as the new managing editor of Public Discourse. An avid Public Discourse reader and occasional writer for the past few years, I am deeply humbled to help steward the journal’s mission to inspire the civil discourse that is essential to a free and flourishing society. This is no small task. But as with any worthy pursuit, I won’t be walking alone: I have a font of knowledge in my predecessor, Elayne Allen, who’s graciously helped me find my footing these past few weeks. And in my colleagues at the Witherspoon Institute, I have a deep well of wisdom from which I will inevitably draw, again and again, in the coming months.
Recently, at a family cookout, I was speaking to my father-in-law, also a Public Discourse reader. While my young boys ran laps around us and he flipped chicken on the grill, we talked about the journal’s editorial mission. He said something to the effect of, the arguments in the essays are just so…intellectually satisfying. They make so much sense, he explained. And I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve always been attracted to how the various authors present such a coherent view of the world, of reality. Though these honest accounts are not always easy to hear, at Public Discourse, they’re always kind. They’re never cruel, never intentionally incendiary, never out of touch with the inherent dignity of the person reading them.
As a lawyer, I’m a bit of a glutton for a spirited debate, but I don’t believe that meaningful change comes from dueling tweets or inflammatory headline-slinging. Instead, transformation happens through a presentation of reality—of law, politics, community, marriage, economics, and the human condition—so compelling that it’s irresistible. In a society that defaults to foreclosing viewpoints that threaten the radically autonomous individual’s subjective, lived experience, Public Discourse anchors us in civil dialogue. Whether the questions presented are a matter of objective truth or moral ambiguity, the goal, every time, is that all who engage in the discussion might be converted to live more fully in the truth.
This month’s essays tackle a panoply of issues that in other contexts might threaten to inflame and divide, but here, welcome thoughtful discussion. First, on the vital role of home and hearth in nurturing a healthy culture, we hear from Ivana Greco on why homemakers are a cohesive and vibrant force in our society. In response, Serena Sigillito presents a more expansive definition of homemaker, which includes women who pursue income-generating work outside the home yet also seek the margin to give their families the requisite time, attention, and respect.
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Our three-part symposium on affordable housing addresses the scourge of ever-rising home prices as a barrier to the increasingly unattainable vision of homeownership. In detailing the economic burden of the housing supply crisis and the toxicity of the NIMBY movement, Patrick Brown shares how being comprehensively pro-family requires also being pro-housing reform. Second, Benjamin Ogilvie presents a case for how an increase in manufactured housing stock could not only allow more families to lay roots but also, potentially cure our suburban loneliness epidemic. Finally, Wendell Cox’s essay is a clarion call for policymakers to focus less on land use and more on residential housing availability.
In a few essays on religion in our world of “strange rites,” our authors push readers to consider the boon of a universal shift toward orthodoxy. In reviewing Emily B. Finley’s book The Ideology of Democratism, Jacob Wolf discusses how modern democracy has become its own religion complete with rites, mores, and eschatology. Terence Sweeney highlights the continuing decline in religion and humanities, what he calls “parallel manifestations of the same social ethos:” our fixation on means to the neglect of any transcendent ends. And Jesse Smith challenges the conventional wisdom that the political right enshrines religious orthodoxy.
And finally, in a month where we celebrate the 4th and our often complicated sense of national pride, we presented two essays on racial reparations, first, with Daniel Philpott’s thoughtful, compelling Christian case for reparations, then Derryck Green’s essay on why we need reparations for segregation, not slavery.
Other highlights from this month:
- Michael Lucchese, “Robert Nisbet and the Non-Libertarian Case for Decentralization”
- Robert Bellafiore, “Scarcity is about More Than the Market”
- Abram Pafford, “‘You Couldn’t Pay Me to Say That:’ 303 Creative and Compelled Commercial Speech”
- Matthew J. Franck’s Bookshelf: “Editions and Subtractions”
- An interview with Karen Swallow Prior: “Exploring the Evangelical Imagination”
What we’re reading around the web:
- Patrick Brown and Serena Sigillito, “Moving Past the Mommy Wars: Pro-Family Policy for the Rest of Us,” Fairer Disputations
- Elayne Allen, “Thinking for Yourself is Overrated,” The Washington Examiner
- Christine Rosen, “The Death of Conservatism is Greatly Exaggerated,” Religion & Liberty
- Matthew B. Crawford, “The Rise of Antihumanism,” First Things
Here at Public Discourse, we wish you well as summer draws to a close and we return to the new, fresh rhythms that come with the shift into fall.