“Domestic Tranquility”: I review Andrew Cherlin on working-class families

for the Weekly Standard:When the sociologist Timothy Nelson asked low-income men who didn’t live with their children what the ideal father was like, eight of them spontaneously mentioned the same man: Ward Cleaver, the dad from Leave It to Beaver. That might make sense if Nelson’s interviews had taken place in the 1950s-60s, when the show aired; but these men were interviewed in the late 2000s. Why did they hark back to a man old enough to be their own grandfather? Maybe it is because the … [Read more...]

“America’s Imperial Mental Illness”: I’m in AmCon

reading Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. I finally got around to Ethan Watters’s 2010 Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, an exposé of the exporting of American concepts of mental illness.Watters writes with justified outrage about the corporations, humanitarian organizations, and mass media which have acted as pushers of both drugs and therapies. He depicts charities descending on post-tsunami Sri Lanka, ignoring local cultural practices and ba … [Read more...]

Me on “Marta Oulie,” Sigrid Undset’s First Published Novel

at the University Bookman: Marta Oulie opens with the confession, “I have been unfaithful to my husband.” So it comes as no surprise that the novel depicts a woman’s sexual awakening: the obsessive thoughts of him, the thrill at his touch. “I suddenly felt scared and didn’t dare look at the scrap of chest visible below his throat, but then couldn’t resist glancing at it.”What might be more surprising is that this is the sensual passion of a virgin for the man who will become her husband. Lik … [Read more...]

“To Overcome Distrust, Renew Friendship”: Amber and David Lapp

have basically the same conversation I just had with a woman at the pregnancy center: ...While Robert Putnam and others have documented the increasing isolation of all Americans, the alienation and distrust that we witnessed in this working-class town seemed like an advanced form of isolation. Things that we took for granted in relationships with new acquaintances—asking questions and listening to the responses, returning phone calls and text messages, extending invitations to dinner—soon ear … [Read more...]

“The Prize of the Defeated”: Matthew Walther on Don Colacho

click: Nicolás Gómez-Dávila’s name is not one to conjure with on these shores or, probably, any others. His work, almost exclusively collections of short—indeed one- or two-sentence—compositions, was long available only in limited editions from small presses in his native Colombia, and even then only because his family and friends urged him to publish. Translations, especially into German, have made him a cult figure in Europe, but in the United States, where he has never appeared in any publish … [Read more...]

Do They Know It’s Halloween?: Cracked Feels My Pain

about the decline of trick-or-treating:#1. Traditional Trick-or-Treating Is Dying The first year I lived in California, we had a huge Halloween turnout at our house. So many costumed children showed up that we actually ran out of candy, and I had to run out to the store still dressed as Princess Buttercup and fight a sailor for the last bag of Laffy Taffy. The next year, thinking we'd be prepared, we stocked up on candy early and ... maybe one-third of the kids showed up. See, the … [Read more...]

“Modernity as an Overlearning of Christianity”: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

good food for thought all the way through: ...Heresy therefore always poses a tricky double challenge for orthodoxy: a heresy that affirms a thing that orthodoxy also affirms (albeit to the exclusion of other necessary truths, or drawing false consequences from it), by definition, cannot be wholly evil, and orthodoxy must affirm the good things in it; and there is always a temptation to face the overemphasis on one pole by overemphasizing the other pole and falling into the other heresy (w … [Read more...]


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