New York Times columnist and author David Brooks visited Baylor University once more to talk about his new book, his older work, and a topic hes long avoided: himself.
Brooks returned to focus less on politics in favor of more personal questions about faith, vulnerability and what he sees as an epidemic of social isolation. Alan Jacobs, with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, led the conversation on the eve of another local appearance with Mission Waco on Tuesday.
Jacobs said Brooks newest book, The Second Mountain, stands apart from his previous work.
There is, typically, in your writing, a gently ironic distance in your writing, Jacobs said. It is rather disconcerting to see you be so straightforward and so open.
The book discusses his Jewish upbringing, his experiences with Christianity and his own personal ambivalence toward belief as he grew up, and his admiration for Catholic activist Dorothy Day and Saint Augustine as well as a painful divorce.
In the other books, it was about stuff I was working on in my life, but it was through some sort of mask, Brooks said in reply. So I had to take off the mask.
He writes that after his divorce, which he describes as a painful ordeal, he came to a deeper understanding of God, describing himself as a wandering Jew and a very confused Christian.
The perverse thing is that I feel more Jewish now than ever before, because the covenant seems real, and its not just something we said on Passover, Brooks said.
Brooks spoke about his earlier work, Bobos in Paradise, The Social Animal and The Road to Character. He said each book is about reaching a deeper level of understanding whats missing in conventional politics, while The Second Mountain is primarily about spiritual understanding. During the discussion, Brooks spoke about what he sees as the heart and soul missing from politics.
Wokeness, is deeply spiritual, Brooks said. Its just as spiritual as the Great Awakening, its just that the sin is called privilege.
He described speaking at political conferences and finding people starved for spiritual conversation.
You get a sense of insane spiritual and emotional yearning, especially in the last five years, Brooks said. The only time I dont find that yearning is at a Christian school.
The book pulls from a wide variety of sources to make points about finding fulfillment in the face of a predominantly individualistic, meritocratic culture that Brooks sees as steering people away from deeper understanding.
The character model I had, control your passion it was too individualistic, it was too self-imposed, Brooks said, referring to his 2015 book The Road to Character.
The Second Mountain outlines what Brooks sees as a path to a more fulfilling life. The first mountain, as described by Brooks, represents the period in a persons life spent striving for success and achievement in their careers. Brooks writes that an individualistic mindset can only get a person so far, and the view from the top of the first mountain will likely be unsatisfying.
The book outlines four major commitments that define much of a persons life: a commitment to a vocation, a spouse, a philosophy or faith, and a community. He said the existential crisis between the two mountains as the valley, and advocates for letting go of self-interest in favor of digging deeper into those commitments.
He writes that dedication to those commitments and looking outward to others instead of inward to personal happiness defines second mountain mentality, which can lead to the fulfillment that is missing from the first.
He discusses the plight of graduating college students uncertain about their future and states that simply telling them to believe in themselves without providing more concrete direction will only make their 20s harder. He said the internet serves as a diversion from finding that meaning by taking up too much of our time and exacerbating feelings of inadequacy and isolation.
[Isolation] is, I think, the issue of our day, Brooks said.
He said he cofounded Weave: The Social Fabric Project, in response to what he sees as a chronic isolation, fragmentation and loss of community in the country. The project, which he created with The Aspen Institute, intends to shine a spotlight on people who work for a wide variety of causes within their communities.
There is a continuum between a life of selfish individualism and agape, Brooks said. I wanted to hold these people up as examples.
Jacobs then led the audience into a Q and A, during which people watching a live stream of the conversation could text questions.
John White, director of the Faith and Sports Institute, said hes been a fan of Brooks for years.
Hes definitely more conservative on many issues, White said. I think he has incredible nuance and he can address both sides when it comes to cultural and political matters.
Brooks frequently jokes that being a conservative New York Times Op-Ed columnist is a little like being a lone rabbi in Mecca.
Katherine Power said she came to Baylor to visit her granddaughter, a Baylor student. She said shes seen Brooks speak before in Dallas and enjoys the way he breaks down the topics in his work during live discussions.
Its been interesting to me to see how hes evolved over the years, Power said.
Brooks married Anne Snyder, a researcher he worked with closely on his previous book and current editor-in-chief of Comment Magazine, in 2017. Brooks and Snyder will speak at a Mission Waco fundraiser at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Waco Convention Center.
Read more here:
- Baylor regents hear report from spirituality and character study - Baptist Standard - November 6th, 2019
- Religion and Spirituality Book Deals: November 6, 2019 - Publishers Weekly - November 6th, 2019
- These Celebrities Say Their Spiritual Journeys Have Benefitted Their Lives And Careers - Forbes - November 6th, 2019
- Why modern yoga should be more spiritual and less narcissistic - The Guardian - November 6th, 2019
- Trump's new 'spiritual adviser' thinks saying no to him is like saying no to God - The indy100 - November 6th, 2019
- Wealth inequality and spiritual currency | Torah Study - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - November 6th, 2019
- Spirituality as Joy the Art of Spokane's Brittney Trambitas - spokanefavs.com - November 6th, 2019
- Rome's MAXXI celebrates the spiritual in art - Wanted in Rome - November 6th, 2019
- The spiritual value of Halloween - The News Star - November 6th, 2019
- "Harriet" Director on the Film's Themes of Spirituality, Love, and Family - UrbanFaith - November 6th, 2019
- Bronx-based nurse speaks on 'Spirituality and Health' - Caribbean Life - November 6th, 2019
- Classic ink paintings on show reveal the spiritual 'xieyi' style - Chinadaily USA - November 6th, 2019
- Are Humans Here in Search of a Corporeal or Spiritual Experience? - The Good Men Project - November 6th, 2019
- Festival takes care of mental, physical and spiritual health - Cyprus Mail - November 6th, 2019
- These Sunglasses Have "Spiritual Healing" Properties Thanks to a Tiny Detail on Their Frames - Yahoo Lifestyle - November 6th, 2019
- Meet the Spiritual Leader of the Hong Kong Protests - The Atlantic - November 6th, 2019
- In Japan, supernatural beliefs connect the spiritual realm with the earthly objects around us - The Conversation AU - November 6th, 2019
- Religious and spiritual online forums consist of chaotic, impactful ideas - Lamron - November 6th, 2019
- Spiritual Reflections: Grumbling, for many, is never just grumbling - SW News Media - November 6th, 2019
- Kasi Lemmons And The Spiritual Journey of 'Harriet' - HuffPost - November 6th, 2019
- Spirituality at Tufts: The Humanist Approach - Tufts Now - October 16th, 2019
- on the spiritual matter of art - Announcements - E-Flux - October 16th, 2019
- My Bhutan Pilgrimage-ish, Part Tourism, Part Leaning into the Spirituality of a Himalayan Buddhist Country - Patheos - October 16th, 2019
- Rudy Giulianis Ukraine smear pals courted powerful Jewish spiritual leaders and right-wing backers of Israe - New York Daily News - October 16th, 2019
- Amazon Synod Press Briefing: The spiritual dynamic of the Synod - Vatican News - October 16th, 2019
- Education, compensation, and spiritual outreach protect threatened whale sharks - Mongabay.com - October 16th, 2019
- "A Spiritual Experience": The Artist Behind a Rediscovered Last Supper Talks About Its Creation - Washingtonian - October 16th, 2019
- 500 SoCal Spiritualists, Marianne Williamson, and UCSD's PC Princess || PC Princess - The UCSD Guardian Online - October 16th, 2019
- Why Gitanjali JB wants to put the soul and spirituality back in Indian education - EdexLive - October 16th, 2019
- A man walked into a wild corner of Hatcher Pass last year on a spiritual quest. He never came out. - Anchorage Daily News - October 16th, 2019
- The Spiritual Need for the Arts - Juneau Empire - October 16th, 2019
- Pharrell on Evolving Masculinity, "Blurred Lines," and "Spiritual Warfare" - GQ - October 16th, 2019
- Rashad and Monica Bey - News-Talk 1380 WAOK - October 16th, 2019
- Exeter Cathedral to host 'spiritual' underwater video game service inspired by Jonah and the Whale - The Telegraph - October 16th, 2019
- Education & Health Experts fear new Quebec legislation will further erode religion in schools October 16 - Grandin Media - October 16th, 2019
- Spiritual Reflections: Even for a Midwesterner, work and play can be balanced - SW News Media - October 16th, 2019
- Opinion | Graham Rockingham: A year of living spiritually without religion - TheSpec.com - October 16th, 2019
- Workplace and spirituality: Meeting of opposites - The Manila Times - October 1st, 2019
- The spiritual meaning of St. Michaels name reminds us how we should live our lives - Aleteia EN - October 1st, 2019
- Kourtney Kardashian Opens Up About Her New Venture and Why She Wont Force Spirituality on Her Kids - PEOPLE.com - October 1st, 2019
- This Spiritual Fitness Experience Is Coming to Philly for the First Time Ever - phillymag.com - October 1st, 2019
- 4 Misconceptions That Keep You From Growing Spiritually - Patheos - October 1st, 2019
- 'My Year of Living Spiritually' is a book for the spiritual but not religious - rabble.ca - October 1st, 2019
- Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: October 2019 - Publishers Weekly - October 1st, 2019
- Critic's Notebook: 'This Way Up' Is More Than a Spiritual Cousin to 'Fleabag' - Hollywood Reporter - October 1st, 2019
- Knead & Seed is a haven for spiritual, emotional wellness in Sag Harbor - Northforker - October 1st, 2019
- This Darshan and one-day retreat in Eagle will bring spiritual awareness to all who attend - Vail Daily News - October 1st, 2019
- Panday honoured in Tobago by Spiritual Baptist - Trinidad Guardian - October 1st, 2019
- Institute for Priestly Formation puts spiritual lives of priests front and center - The Catholic Spirit - October 1st, 2019
- Music and spirituality at the end of life - OUPblog - September 29th, 2019
- Kourtney Kardashian Opens Up About Her New Venture and Why She Wont Force Spirituality on Her Kids - PEOPLE.com - September 29th, 2019
- Denzel Curry finds spirituality in boxing and reveals his most treasured memory - 88Nine Radio Milwaukee - September 29th, 2019
- Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: October 2019 - Publishers Weekly - September 29th, 2019
- This Darshan and one-day retreat in Eagle will bring spiritual awareness to all who attend - Vail Daily News - September 29th, 2019
- Critic's Notebook: 'This Way Up' Is More Than a Spiritual Cousin to 'Fleabag' - Hollywood Reporter - September 29th, 2019
- The New Moon Is In Libra, & Its Time To Get Romantic - Refinery29 - September 29th, 2019
- Princess Diana's Relationships With Psychics and Spiritual Healers - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 29th, 2019
- Spirituality and Health 3 Ways Faith Helps to Overcome Stress - spokanefavs.com - September 29th, 2019
- Book Review: My Year of Living Spiritually by Anne Bokma - Raise the Hammer - September 29th, 2019
- Spiritually Speaking: Being a blessing is the only road to being blessed - The Philadelphia Tribune - September 29th, 2019
- Meet Greta Thunbergs spiritual precursor: The 12-year-old who silenced the world - RT - September 29th, 2019
- Brad Pitt May Be Dating a Spiritual Healer But They Also May Just Be Friends - Jezebel - September 29th, 2019
- Children lead the way to stop violence, save Earth - National Catholic Reporter - September 29th, 2019
- Spiritual wanderlust in new books from Bay Area authors - The Jewish News of Northern California - September 19th, 2019
- Kanye West: What Religion Is the Rapper and Does He Have His Own Church? - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - September 19th, 2019
- In pursuit of the spiritual, practical, abundant | About The Valley - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin - September 19th, 2019
- Deepika Padukone's spiritual leaning showcases her unshakable faith in God - Times Now - September 19th, 2019
- PRAYER FOR ALL SEASONS SALAD LUNCHEON | Spirituality - The Southern - September 19th, 2019
- This Is How You Attract A Partner Who Has Spiritual Health & Wellness - YourTango - September 19th, 2019
- The Rev. Michael Haynes was the spiritual leader of Roxbury - The Boston Globe - September 19th, 2019
- Chance The Rapper Says Kanye West Still His Spiritual Advisor, Talks Paternity Leave - Hip-Hop Wired - September 19th, 2019
- Spiritual fulfilment - Economic Times - September 19th, 2019
- Cosmic Pineapple gets spiritual, ethical and eco-conscious - Ibiza Spotlight - September 19th, 2019
- GOP Congressman Says Marijuana Shops Near Churches Is Evidence Of 'Spiritual War' - Marijuana Moment - September 19th, 2019
- Spiritually Speaking: Out of time for Out of Town News - Wicked Local - September 19th, 2019
- Spiritual Reflections: Five things to say to someone who's dying - SW News Media - September 19th, 2019
- Meet Shaman Durek ' Hollywood's spiritual healer who's on a mission to make us all feel 'lit' - Lifestyle from Xpos - virginmediatelevision.ie - September 19th, 2019
- Author reflects on clerical celibacy as spiritual fatherhood - CatholicPhilly.com - September 19th, 2019
- Today's Video: How to Handle Spiritual Setbacks - thecatholictelegraph.com - September 19th, 2019
- Bible & Tire Recording Co. spotlights rich history, contemporary spiritual singers in Memphis - The Commercial Appeal - September 19th, 2019