Category: Social Trends

The End of Viking Vitalism

The third act of Robert Zemeckis’s underrated Beowulf adaptation begins with a dour meditation. “We men are the monsters now,” the aging hero rumbles. “The time of heroes is dead, Wiglaf—the Christ God has killed it, leaving humankind with nothing...

/ May 25, 2023

Platforms Aren’t the Problem

In How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt explore how healthy democracies descend into authoritarianism. Counterintuitively, “Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box.” A nation elects a demagogic figure who uses executive power to take control of the...

/ October 17, 2022

Modern (Psycho)Social Imaginaries: Towards a Taylorian Critique of Pop-Psychology

Do we really need another essay about Charles Taylor? I think so. What I am interested in briefly exploring here is how Taylor’s work, specifically in A Secular Age, can help us understand the draw people feel towards pop psychology...

/ February 8, 2022

Purity Culture

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” (Matthew 27:24) Our contemporary culture has...

/ April 13, 2021

The Dogma of Minimalist Drama

In his comedy sketch about “Stuff,” George Carlin joked that the whole meaning of life can be described as “Trying to find a place to put your stuff!” After all, that’s what a house is: it’s a “place to keep...

/ August 17, 2020

Keep Christianity Weird

Oliver O’Donovan begins the sixth chapter of his Desire of the Nations, a chapter concerned with the status and legitimacy of Christendom, by considering what made the political witness of the early church compelling:

/ May 12, 2020

An Intercourse with Ghosts: The Unabomber, Irony, and Terror

1. To write about Theodore J. Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, is to sit for a moment with the ghosts of his victims peering over your shoulder. The dead and the maimed, both. Just as much as you try to...

/ October 31, 2019

The Real Place for Conflict: On Keeping Controversy Close to Home

By Justin Frank Social media gives unprecedented opportunities to know about and engage in controversy. Many of these controversies are rooted in places far from us; involve people we’ve never met (and will likely never know); and grow out of...

/ February 20, 2019

If Anything Is Pro-Life, Nothing Is

“This is a pro-life issue.” By now you have probably heard this sentiment expressed about any number of issues that are not immediately related to abortion. Food stamps, taxes, healthcare—even immigration!—are designated as “pro-life” causes because they may in some...

/ January 4, 2018

A Brief Commendation: The Addicts Next Door

I cannot remember reading an essay that has moved me as much as Margaret Talbot’s devastating New Yorker piece on our opioid crisis. The prose is mostly unadorned, because it can be. Many of the stories Talbot recounts are so...

/ June 13, 2017