Pillar: Education & Culture

Education & Culture

The fourth pillar, education and culture, is built upon the recognition of two essential realities. First, the Western intellectual tradition requires a dedication to and desire for truth. Second, education takes place not only within colleges and universities but within our broader culture, whose institutions and practices form us as whole persons.

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Isolation Bookshelf

Reading good history books takes us out of ourselves and places us, for a time, elsewhere and elsewhen. In our isolation, with our minds so preoccupied with the pandemic and its economic and social effects, such an escape can be just what the doctor ordered.

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Pandemics and the Agency of Citizens

While medical experts’ job is to save lives from the coronavirus, it is the responsibility of citizens to ask and decide what makes a worthwhile life. There is more to life than mere living; our own self-respect as responsible agents, who govern ourselves under the law (human and moral), ought not be so easily jettisoned.

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The End of The Good Place and the End of Man

The Good Place finale was hilarious, thought provoking, and profoundly moving. However, in failing to find our highest good and identifying the means to achieve it, the show could do little more than put a happy face on our current cultural despair. This article contains spoilers.

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How to Flourish During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Research from the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard

Our confrontation with suffering and death provides an important opportunity for reflection. What is it that we value most? What relationships need forgiveness or reconciliation? How should we understand our lives and our own mortality? Both empirical data and religious traditions show that, by engaging in such interior reflection, it can be possible to grow and flourish even amidst great suffering.

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Coronavirus and Shutdowns

The Coronavirus epidemic has provided us with a lesson in how bureaucracies function in a time of crisis. It has also reminded us that education is more than merely transferring information. Real education takes place when the student and the professor meet face-to-face and just talk.

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Recovering Friendship

A friend is more than a form of entertainment. The utilitarian way app designers would have us pick friends off a menu reflects quite the opposite approach. Friendships are viewed as more comfortable and more disposable than Allan Bloom, C.S. Lewis, and the Talmud suggest they ought to be.

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People and Their Relationships

When our conception of relationships and relationship-building is based on a vision of the human person as an atomized choice maker who forms bonds for his or her benefit, we should not wonder why institutions decay. Our institutions are in crisis because we are in an identity crisis.

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Essences or Intersectionality: Understanding Why We Can’t Understand Each Other

A major source of political division in America is the difference between those who believe in essences and those who follow intersectionality. Those who hold theories of intersectionality believe that human identity and much of reality itself is a construct that they can revise, not an objective reality that we can all know. This limits the possibility of political discourse: we cannot reason together if one side no longer believes in the capacity of reason to discern what is true.

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The Long Autumn of Our Content

Ross Douthat’s depiction of our society in his new book, The Decadent Society, should unsettle defenders of the status quo; his assessment of its potential resilience should give pause to those who are eagerly awaiting its fall and planning for what comes next. Decadence may be worse, and yet more permanent, than we think.

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Faith and Family Play a Bigger Role in Academic Achievement Than Race or Socioeconomic Status

The phrase “achievement gap” refers to the well-documented discrepancies between the scholastic achievements of African American and Latinos on the one hand and white students on the other. What explains the gap? My meta-analysis revealed that if an African American or Latino student was a person of faith and came from a two biological parent family, the achievement gap totally disappeared, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status.

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Institutions and the Culture War in 2020

In order to alleviate our social crisis, we will need to improve the moral formation that our institutions provide their members. Yet the institutions best suited to lead in this task are those with a religious mission, which in turn are imperiled by the culture war that elite institutions are waging against them. The cause of institutionalism today therefore requires a forceful defense against the aggressions of the cultural Left. Part two of a two-part review essay.

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Thinking and Acting Institutionally in 2020

In an important update to Aristotelian political thought, Yuval Levin’s new book shows that the health of a modern society depends on the health of its social institutions, and that our social institutions today are not healthy. Part one of a two-part review essay.

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Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being

Active Christians exhibit greater current life satisfaction and are more likely to report that they are thriving. In addition, active Christians have higher levels of subjective well-being throughout the entire business cycle—not just in booms, but in the busts as well. Our results suggest that religion and religious communities will continue to play a driving role in helping people cope with change by keeping their eyes pointed towards the eternal even as storms surge around them.

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Sympathy for the Devil in the Cultural Moment of 1969

Fifty years after Altamont, no clear-eyed observer of American culture can doubt that the demonic spirit of 1969 is still very much in the air in our country. This is how the evil of cultural destruction presents itself. It would be so easy to turn aside from it if all collapsed into ugly, nauseating chaos instantly as soon as the old cultural rules and restrictions were abandoned. But such things take time to materialize in their full wreckage.

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Quiet Hope: A New Year’s Resolution

Despair is the unforgivable sin, for the despairing conclude that God will not or cannot act, that the universe is fundamentally unfriendly and inhospitable to the true, good, and beautiful, and that humanity has lost the imago Dei. To judge in this way is to deny the goodness of the world and its Creator and sustainer, and that is the sin of all sins.

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A Decade of Debates

The team at Public Discourse doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do think we’re asking the right questions, and getting the right thinkers to propose some of the answers. That’s one thing that we hope will always be our hallmark: thoughtful, reasoned discourse, which is rigorous yet still accessible to the educated layman.

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