This issue of Fare Forward is the rebirth of a magazine that published seven issues in print from 2012 to 2014, then remained active online until 2016. Our name, Fare Forward, derives from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets, specifically the third poem of the collection, “The Dry Salvages.” From the beginning, we have emphasized a line from that poem—“consider the future / and the past with an equal mind”—as constitutive of Fare Forward’s vision.
The idea behind this new issue was straightforward. We sought to gather some excellent young Christian writers, and to give them space to write about something they cared about.
We think we’ve succeeded in this aim, and we hope our readers will agree. We’ve made no effort to confine our writers to what is “current,” a decision that resonates with Eliot’s injunction. This shows up prominently in our reviews section: There are reviews of recent works, of twentieth-century works, and of works yet older.
The reader will notice that more than a couple of these essays and reviews share a common concern: namely, skepticism towards (or outright rejection of) liberalism. The word “liberalism” here refers not to, say, the political philosophy of the Democratic Party, but something much more foundational. I won’t attempt to define it in this letter, but the reader can consult Jose Mena’s essay “Against Liberalism” for an analysis of the threefold nature of liberalism.
Not every contributor to this issue would identify with these critiques of liberalism, and certainly several pieces don’t deal with this theme at all. Fare Forward is first and foremost a Nicene Christian publication, and each writer is accountable intellectually only for the arguments advanced or perspective exhibited in his or her own piece. However, the recurrence of such themes is an important part of this issue. Criticism of liberalism appears prominently in the thinking and writing of some young Christians, and this motif runs throughout these pages, in a space where such younger writers can speak their minds.
Jose Mena, Matthew Loftus, Brandon McGinley, Susannah Black, Kevin Gallagher, and Josh Alexakos all wrote explicitly on this theme across different genres (book review, discursive essay, and personal reflection) and in reference to topics as diverse as politics, parenting, and the nature of the city. Our interview with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat also touches on them—in it, Douthat describes the tension of his own response to critics of liberalism. We believe these pieces represent a timely contribution to an ongoing debate over liberalism.
For those less invested in such discussions, this issue of Fare Forward features, we hope, plenty else to enjoy. Harrison Lemke offers a tribute to the “terribly human” Beach Boys, while Leah Libresco engages a new “pop stoicism” advanced by some successful recent books on the subject. Charlie Clark takes you into the works of Walker Percy in search of a stance towards modernity, and Veery Huleatt sees in Elizabeth Goudge the lesson that “the longings and impressions of childhood” are “intimations of a truer world.” We’ve also included works by four different poets, thanks our poetry editor Bria Sandford. We hope that in this range of ideas and material, you will find much to enjoy and to reflect on—and maybe even find more links between the pieces that we have yet to see.
Peter Blair, Editor-in-Chief