Thirty years ago, sociologist James Davison Hunter popularized the concept of culture war. Today, he sees a culture war that’s gotten worse—and that spells trouble for the future of the American experiment.
In 1991, with America gripped by a struggle between an increasingly liberal secular society that pushed for change and a conservative opposition that rooted its worldview in divine scripture, James Davison Hunter wrote a book and titled it with a phrase for what he saw playing out in America’s fights over abortion, gay rights, religion in public schools and the like: “Culture Wars.”
Hunter, a 30-something sociologist at the University of Virginia, didn’t invent the term, but his book vaulted it into the public conversation, and within a few years it was being used as shorthand for cultural flashpoints with political ramifications.
He hoped that by calling attention to the dynamic, he’d help America “come to terms with the unfolding conflict” and, perhaps, defuse some of the tensions he saw bubbling.
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When I was young, I would hear people say one of the worst pains a human could experience was childbirth. I think of the hours of labor before my son was born and conclude that the pain of grief is worse.
When I was experiencing contractions, I could point to a part of my body and say, “Here. Take the pain away from here.” The anesthesiologist showed up on the 20th hour (I was trying to go without an epidural but didn’t make it).
The medicine went in, and the pain was gone, for the most part.
There is no place to point at with grief. It is an ache that drenches you completely, makes your limbs and your head heavy, too heavy to carry.
And the sting of grief does not end; it sleeps, gets quiet enough to forget about it from time to time, until it resurfaces with a song, an intersection, a park, a dream, or a corner of your house you forgot to look at with eyes from the past.
The request came in late on a Thursday afternoon to restaurant owner Steve Chu. One of his customers had terminal cancer, and her son-in-law wondered if it would be possible to get the recipe of her favorite broccoli tempura entree so he could make it for her at her home in Vermont.
Chu, 30, specializes in Asian fusion cuisine and is the co-owner of two Ekiben locations in Baltimore. He read the email on March 11 and instantly knew that he could do better, he said.
He quickly replied with an alternative suggestion:
“Thanks for reaching out,” he wrote. “We’d like to meet you in Vermont and make it fresh for you.”
When the pandemic eases and Americans start exploring again, Tourism Ireland is hoping the Emerald Isle will be at the top of their travel bucket lists.
The United States is Ireland’s second-largest source of visitors, after Great Britain: The country welcomed 1.7 million people from the U.S. in 2019 — up 71 percent from 2014. And those visitors infused nearly $2 billion into the economy.
“The U.S. market is Ireland’s most important source of overseas revenue,” says Alison Metcalfe, executive vice president of Tourism Ireland for the U.S. and Canada.
And a virtual pub night, streamed live from three of Ireland’s most beloved pubs, will be broadcast March 17, complete with performances from the Shamrock Tenors and two members of Riverdance.