The Soil Is Bare Now:
Introducing Some Upcoming Changes to the Journal!

What is more satisfying than a summer thunderstorm? The dark indigo clouds hovering on the horizon, striped with white flashes of lightning; the thick, lingering stillness of the air; then, it breaks over us, hopefully not before we ourselves have gotten inside. And then the next morning, the earth and sky feel as if they’ve been rinsed like dishes.

Here at the Journal, we are coming up on a kind of storm. Our two longest-running series—the profiles of the writers from the Author Bank (every working Monday), and the introductions to what Mortimer Adler called “the Great Conversation” (normally on Thursday)—will be wrapping up! We have four or five more ideas to introduce for the latter, and a few more than that on our list of authors for the former; with those, both will conclude.

But, taking a cue from the idea of the Great Conversation, we have more questions to consider than who is speaking and what they are talking about. When trying to understand old books, a common proverb is that “context is king”: both the context of the book we are reading, and the time it was written in. When did these authors write on these topics, and why did they approach them as they did? We’re therefore introducing a new series to complement the outgoing two, dealing with history—what it is, why it matters, and how much (or not) the history most of us learned at school gave us the full story. Stay tuned for its premiere!

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ...


If you’d like to see some of the highlights from the two series we’re wrapping up, some of our most popular author profiles include those of Æschylus, St. Gregory the Great, Jane Austen (a guest profile by Alex Miller Jr.), Frederick Douglass (by Winston Brady), and Fyodor Dostoevsky (by Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson); meanwhile, some of our most popular “Great Conversation” posts have been on beauty, life and death, the four loves, magic, and tyranny. Have a great weekend, and thank you for reading the Journal!

Published on 14th July, 2023. Page image of a photograph of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey (the traditional identification of Avalon and the grave of Arthur), taken in 1900  and colorized by the technique of Photochrome.

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