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WSJ Resists Entropy, Finds Faith


Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Depressed are you? For those who care about writing and reporting, is it too late? When tabloids are the model of proper reporting, are we doomed? The “fake news”, crudity, silliness, and ignorance that have overwhelmed the quality press may seem to be unstoppable forces of nature.

Yet, there are signs that all is not lost. There are some reporters whose work gives voice to what Dylan Thomas wrote:

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

One of the best pieces of writing I have seen in the newspapers lately was in holiday weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. It featured an article on the front page of its "Review" section looking at "a burgeoning movement among traditional Christians" to create "their own small communities."

The article by Ian Lovett entitled “Wary of Modern Society, Some Christians Choose a Life Apart” examines the community that has arisen round the Benedictines at Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma.

There is much to recommend in this article. The author’s use of language is clean, precise yet also lyric. There is an intelligence behind the words that speaks to a wide reading. Simply put, the author knows what he is talking about. It begins:

"When the first few monks arrived in Hulbert, Okla., in 1999, there wasn't much around but tough soil, a creek and an old cabin where they slept as they began to build a Benedictine monastery in the Ozark foothills. Dozens of families from California, Texas and Kansas have since followed, drawn by the abbey's traditional Latin Mass -- conducted as it was more than 1,000 years ago -- and by the desire to live in one of the few communities in the U.S. composed almost exclusively of traditional Catholics."

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