David Brooks on Not Feeling Like a Convert, His New Book, and Marianne Williamson

“Our society has become a conspiracy against joy," writes New York Times columnist and author David Brooks.

The thesis of his new book, "The Second Mountain," is that a meaningful life is lived not out of the ego-driven pursuits of the first mountain but out of the soul-driven pursuits of the second.

I found it to be a rich feast on topics like vocation and calling. I found it to be sharply provocative on the topic of marriage — both encouraging me to be a better spouse and at times indicting my failures. 

On the issue of community, Brooks spoke to the core questions of this podcast: how do we find a way through our fractured, distrustful, enraged, superficial time to come together with others to build and heal and overcome in our communities and our nation. 

And his section on faith and spirituality was my favorite. Reading this book was like food for my soul. 

We talk here about things Brooks wrote in the past that he now thinks he was mistaken about, his views on marriage the second time around — he remarried in 2017 and that’s a big part of this book — his nebulous place in the world of faith and how that’s kind of where he wants to be, and we talk a little politics.

Brooks describes himself in the introduction to his book as “radicalized” toward the belief that sweeping and dramatic change is necessary to change the course of America and the West. But he believes these changes should be moral and cultural, and even though he might agree with some of the things that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are proposing — though not their most aggressive proposals —he talks about they are looking in the wrong place for a game-changing message. And he mentions that only Marianne Williamson, and to a lesser degree Cory Booker, are seeing to make a deeper critique of Trump in a way that will connect in a powerful way. 

Outro music: "Side with the Seeds" by Wilco

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