A Monthly Liberal Arts Education

 

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Harper’s Monthly, January, 2013

 

My modus operandi when it comes to blogging about magazines is slowly morphing, and this post will evince possibly another evolutionary step. I don’t know whether I’ll return to posting about specific articles and stories, but this issue yearns for a few pithy words of summary.

I normally try to divine connections between pieces in an issue, but this time I’m reaching a bit deeper – probably at my peril – and searching for Harper’s Monthly’s bedrock ethos. And I think this issue is a good one to use in that way. Particularly since this monthly magazine week contains both the December 2012 and the January 2013 issues,

That the magazine is overtly political – left of center – is without question, and that’s one reason I subscribe. As much as the term “liberal media” is thrown out as a epithet (a pervasive cancer, some call it), there is a diminishing number of publications from that perspective. The editors exhort readers, politicians, and possibly think tanks, to consider that perspective, and that’s worth doing because – again – we get little of it.

But beyond that, Harper’s is a regularly recurring intellectual exercise, and that’s not just limited to political pieces that sometimes turn into screeds. In fact, we get something of a liberal arts education from the magazine. Or to put it simply, we’re challenged to think critically.

In this issue, we read an explanation of why people of all educational bases fear vaccines. We read a well thought out perspective on how and why sexual abuse must be confronted. We get art in its many forms, and articles on modern American cultural phenomena, from books to sports.

This is why I cling to the magazine. It’s as uncompromising in informing us as it is in providing entertaining possibilities.

 

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