Take and read
Texts to download
Three or four times a year, Ken Myers has written letters to our listeners exploring some theme related to our editorial mission. Below are links to download pdf copies of some of the most recent of these letters.
2021 Year-end letter on Advent and the End
2021 Gift subscription form and letter
2021 Summer letter on modern dualisms
2020 Year-end letter on contemporary irrationality
2020 Summer letter on racism, liberalism, and religion
2019 Year-end letter on what dooms quests for unity
2019 Gift subscription letter on theology and liberalism
2019 Summer letter on Lewis and the West’s “un-christening”
2018 Year-end letter on truth vs. truthiness
2018 Summer letter on the common good and the Source of the Good
2017 Year-end letter on the Logos and Creation’s intelligibility
2021 Year-end letter
“There have been hundreds of cartoons (most famously in The New Yorker) featuring a bearded, haunted man in a prophet’s toga, carrying a placard reading ‘The End is near.’ The warning is treated within the cartoon (and by its readers) as absurd, if not insane. And insofar as The End imagined is regarded simply as a Cosmic Termination and a Final Sentencing, Christians should recognize the hollowness of such warnings. But we should also be alive with the conviction that the prospect of The End is both real and much more consequential. Seas and fields and (most of all) his people sing in anticipation.”
— Ken Myers, on why The End properly defines our ends. Click here to download a pdf copy of this letter.
2021 Gift subscription form and letter
Click here to download a form with which you may order (by mail, only) gift subscriptions as Christmas presents for friends and family members. If you would like to read the cover letter that was mailed with this form, click here. In the cover letter Ken Myers summarizes his conviction that “the critical condition of contemporary societies requires the recovery and reaffirmation of truths that are unabashedly theological.”
2021 Summer letter
“ . . . Understanding the logic of that ‘rupture between religion and life’ is crucial in understanding the story of modern culture. And a pivotal chapter in that story is the late medieval tendency to describe the ‘natural’ and the ‘supernatural’ as two separate ‘orders,’ the second understood as an extrinsic addition to the first (and hence optional). This segregation enabled Western minds to imagine a wall of separation between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular,’ and in time all of earthly life, including human nature, was assumed to be intelligible without reference to anything beyond itself. There may well be a God, but that is an unneeded hypothesis for happily making our way in the world. As this two-tiered conception of life has become more entrenched — thanks as much to faulty theology as to the forces of irreligion — the Gift promised in the Gospel has gradually come to be seen not as a gift at all, but as (in the words of Henri de Lubac) ‘an arbitrary imposition. . . . Indeed, shouldn’t the intrusion of a foreign ‘supernatural’ be rebuffed as a kind of violation?’ No wonder the Gospel is foolishness to our contemporaries. . . .”
— Ken Myers, on the deep dualism that disorders modern culture and threatens Christian faithfulness. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2020 Year-end letter
“One of the most striking and disturbing aspects of public life in the past year has been the increasingly irrational character of public speech. Many commentators have been wringing their hands while urging for a recovery of the Enlightenment’s noble respect for reason. But what if the real goal of the various intellectual and political movements we call ‘the Enlightenment’ was to amplify the significance of the human will, not of the human mind? What if the growing, power-hungry irrationality evident in today’s public life is actually the fulfillment of the modern view of reason as simply an instrument that enables us to get what we want? (If you question this description, compare the masses of mental energy devoted to devising new technologies — digital genies awaiting our commands — with the amount of thought dedicated to theological and philosophical reflection.)”
— Ken Myers, on the consequences of separating reason and freedom from the guidance of faith. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2020 Summer letter
“The heretofore uncommon word ‘systemic’ has been heard a lot lately. Charges of systemic racism have been leveled in social and political settings. Attitudes of the living and the dead are judged to be vicious and unforgivable; institutions are guilty and must be demolished or (more moderately) reformed. But parties on all sides — whether they aim to tear down, rebuild, or defend — typically fail to ask if these systemic injustices (real or perceived) are more than moral and bureaucratic failures, if in fact they emerge from a coordinated pattern of imagining, thinking, and acting which inevitably encourages conflict and discord.”
— Ken Myers, on why we cannot adequately address racism without thinking more systemically about liberal notions of freedom and religion. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2019 Year-end letter
“Within the baptismal rituals of many Christian traditions, when one is christened, one renounces the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In the process of promoting its un-christening, the West is renouncing the Center that for centuries was recognized as the ultimate and only source of unity. That Center — before the foundation of the world — was designated as the One in whom all things were to be united, things in heaven and things on earth. Apart from that Center, that Still Point, the West’s unbalanced spinning is tossing persons and practices into division, mutual hostility, and confusion. And there are theological reasons to believe that the destructive momentum of that spinning must increase, unless the un-christening itself is renounced.”
— Ken Myers, on understanding the accelerating spiral of civic polarization in light of the Logos. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2019 Gift subscription letter
“Efforts at cultural diagnosis are hampered if they are pursued from within the same framework of fundamental assumptions that brought into being the disorders they hope to cure. Alert Christians may rightly perceive a pattern of social practices and beliefs in need of remedy or reform, but — as children of the same cultural setting that birthed the disordered condition — they often share with their rivals a number of presuppositions about ‘Life, the Universe, and Everything.’ Presuppositions by their nature are typically held unconsciously and mistakenly regarded as ‘common sense,’ so they are often not scrutinized. Shared ‘mental DNA’ often creates diagnostic blind spots, which can easily result in strategies that unwittingly bolster the foundational beliefs that gave rise to the problem in the first place.”
— Ken Myers, on the theological perspective necessary to recognize the causes of the failures of liberalism. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2019 Summer letter
“While many pundits and commentators recognize that ‘the meaning of the human’ is a central and critical question for cultural life, it is not as widely appreciated that the logic of the modern project prevents an adequate answer to this question. French philosopher Rémi Brague has recently argued that in modern times, ‘the knowledge of man freed itself from nature and from the divine.’ Modern societies assume that humanity is self-defining, that no context of being or understanding is required for us to know what we are (and thus how we should live well). But, as Brague warns (with echoes of The Abolition of Man), ‘To deprive the human of any context leads to its destruction.’”
— Ken Myers, on a few insights from C. S. Lewis about the “un-christening” of the West. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2018 Year-end letter
“The fateful trajectory of modernity has for centuries undermined confidence about truth. Modern public life is in principle ordered without reference to any transcendent reality; the only truth about human being that can be officially honored is that which can be empirically verified. But, as Richard Weaver warned years ago, ‘the denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably — though ways are found to hedge on this — the denial of truth.’ We may believe that we are still (however faintly) honoring truth with knowing allusions to ‘truthiness,’ but the prospect of repudiating our preferences in the name of the truth is not widely welcome. After all, the Supreme Court has assured us — in the spirit of truthiness — that the essence of our freedom is the right to define existence and the meaning of human life however we want to.”
— Ken Myers, on paying lip service to truth while only tolerating truthiness. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2018 Summer letter
“A common recognition of the good is possible because creation’s intelligibility and its goodness are interdependent. The common good articulates creation’s ordered goodness. ‘Good is intrinsic to the rational order of the heavens and the earth,’ writes Simon Oliver. ‘Creation is rational not simply because it follows predictable patterns (which is how contemporary science would see the matter), but because it is good.’ Oliver O’Donovan, in commenting on the divine sources of earthly goodness, reminds us that ‘Man’s life on earth is important to God; he has given it its order; it matters that it should conform to the order he has given it.”
— Ken Myers, on the common good, the Good, and God. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.
2017 Year-end letter
“In rendering Logos as ‘Meaning,’ Pope Benedict reminds us that Christ — the Light of Light, as the Creed says — is the source of intelligibility itself. Taking the passages from John together with the passages from the Colossian letter, we can affirm that everything in Creation has its integrity, its coherence, its order — and hence its rationality and intelligibility — in Christ. The meaning and meaningfulness of everything is sustained by an intrinsic connection to Christ. All things are and are what they are in Christ. And still further, through Christ all things in the world now blighted by the Fall and the Curse are reconciled to God. All the disruptive, fragmenting, chaos-inviting effects of the Fall are undone by Christ’s bodily action in a specific time and place in history. A comprehensible world is held in being by Christ, and by him a comprehensive salvation was accomplished, promising the recovery of a renewed harmonious order.”
— Ken Myers, on the Christocentric character of Creation. Click here to download a pdf copy of the entire letter.