The February issue is here! And not a moment too soon. First thing first, we have James Nuechterlein's timely Public Square column in which he traces the few successes and many failures of America's attempts to solve its racial problems. Nearly five decades after the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965 were passed, and race is still, Nuechterlein says, "our abiding political and moral failure, and we seem, at this late date, no nearer to a solution than we have ever been." The beginnings of a solution may be found in a humble recognition that we don't have a perfect solution. Fortunately, we do have some Good News about Evangelicalism: Byron Johnson reports that recent surveys of Americans' religious attitudes demonstrate—contrary to some popular interpretations—that evangelicalism remains strong and young evangelicals are not falling away from their faith. And we have more good news—Johnson's report is one of our free articles this month! In our second report this month, Losana Boyd explains how the practice of yoga helped lead her back to the Catholic Church.
Our essay section is chocked full of excellent articles this month beginning with our second free article for the month: George Weigel's The End of the Berdardin Era, a historical account of the rise and fall of the "Bernardin Machine," the potent network of American prelates, led by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, that helped shape an American Catholicism focused on being relevant and "players" in all public debate. Next up, Gilbert Meilaender explains in The Catholic I Am how being Lutheran is one way of being Catholic. And third, we have Robert Louis Wilken on secondarity: the dependence of one culture on the practices and traditions of a culture that came before. In Culture and the Light of Faith, Wilken shows how Christianity in the West has not only depended on, but preserved and cherished the wealth of civilizations that came before. In Waiting for St. Vladimir, Robert T. Miller defends capitalism against the attacks of one of his intellectual heroes: Alasdair MacIntyre. Appropriately concluding the section is A Philosopher in the Twilight, David B. Hart's account of Heidegger's attempt to write the final chapter in the book of philosophy: "'the history of being'—from its remotest origins to its uttermost ending." In the process, Hart argues, Heidegger gives us "one of the profoundest meditations on modernity and on the nature and history of modern nihilism."
Don't miss Armond White's review of the Coen Brother's new film in The Coens Keep the Faith. We also have reviews of Daniel Mahoney's The Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order (by James Kalb) and Robert Putnam and David Campbell's monolith American Grace (by R.R. Reno). Jennifer S. Bryson also reviews The Jew Is Not My Enemy by Tarek Fatah and Gerald J. Russello reveals The Real Myth in his review of David Sehat's The Myth of American Religious Freedom.
And let’s not forget the poetry! We have Timothy Murphy’s petition in “Father Tom Leads the Faithful in Prayer”, a new rendition of the Visitation in Len Krisak’s new translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Magnificat”, Robert Pack’s “Now Once Again,” Catherine Chandler’s “Eleven,” and Michael McFee’s daily “Pilgrimage”:
Six days a week, this solo pilgrimage
across the wildnerness
of weedy sloughs
and uphill root-snares and dead-lightning limbs
to the mailbox,
celestial castle on the hill,
a shining silver roadside barrel vault
with a bloody flag
and a drawbridge I let down while lifting out
my daily bread,
the world’s delivered words
I bear back to the house along a path
my feet have carved
into the local earth
for decades now and know so well they could
tightrope its shallow gulley in the dark.
Surely an experience familiar to all First Things subscribers impatiently waiting for their favorite publication to arrive.