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.
Pillar: 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.
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.
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.
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?
The leaked draft executive order “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” is not perfect, and it could easily be amended for the better. Still, a careful reading should not bring to mind visions of gulags. It has also given traditional and classical architects an unforeseen and unasked opportunity to promote their cause in a public forum.
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.
Contemporary Christians are called to infuse procedural liberalism with substantive language and concepts rooted in Christian tradition. We ought not spend our time despairing over supposed barbarians at the gate, or lurking within us—and not simply because it distracts us from our work, but also because it saps us of hope.
Through the stories we tell and the wisdom of traditions we know, professors should invite students to rethink their lives as a creative call to move outside themselves into relationships with goods, work, and people that are fulfilling and fruitful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 1619 Project’s goal is not just reframing American history on ideological grounds, but reframing the philosophy of history itself. This in turn harms our ability to learn from history and understand our identity as Americans.
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.
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.
Faith and family: for many of us, these are not only the most important parts of the Christmas season. They’re also the things that make life most worth living.
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.
Christmas isn’t tasteful, isn’t simple, isn’t clean, isn’t elegant. Give me the tacky and the exuberant and the wild, to represent the impossibly boisterous fact that God has intruded in this world.
In the popular imagination, both Jewish and Gentile, the story of Chanukah is the saga of outnumbered but plucky Jews battling the more numerous and nefarious Greeks and their alien culture. In truth, it’s about much more than that.
Unless they acknowledge a divine transcendence, our universities, like our culture at large, are sentenced to pointless “debate,” full of sound and fury, no matter how free our speech is. The marketplace of ideas alone cannot save education.
Mark Hall’s new book adduces solid evidence to dispel many contemporary myths concerning religion and the American founding. Let us finally be done with false claims that the founders were deists, or that they were hostile to religion and wanted to exclude it from public life.
A new book argues that fundraising is not an independent activity external to the purpose of a non-profit, but an integral part of the existence and mission of the organization. Rather than becoming a class of experts, fundraisers should be well-formed persons and citizens, who can learn the craft of fundraising and practice it in a manner that supports rather than undermines the free and relational nature of civil society.
We stewards of the western tradition have good answers for what makes life worth living. If only we could be imaginative enough to give new voice to those ancient truths and avoid the stultifying fate of pampered souls.
There are reasons to care which denizens of the wasteland hold political authority, but rejuvenating the wasteland is the more important task. Without recognizing the decadence of our culture, denouncing (or defending) the latest tweet from the president is just a desultory wind swirling dust and ashes.
In her new book, Mary Eberstadt argues that today’s identity politics arose from the deep anthropological wound slit open by the sexual revolution. The ascent of identity politics reveals that people are having an identity crisis, and they are having an identity crisis because the sexual revolution resulted in family—and, by extension, individual—breakdown.