The Atlantic

David Brooks’s Journey Toward Faith

In his new book, The Second Mountain, the columnist describes his path between doubt and belief.
Source: Kris Connor / Getty

When David Brooks started writing his column in The New York Times more than a decade and a half ago, he became an instant star. Today, he’s one of America’s most influential columnists, insightful and elegant, able to catalyze debates on topics simply by writing about them. Yet anyone who has regularly read Brooks over the years—or, in my case, who knows and admires him—can see that his outlook has changed in some important ways.

It’s less Brooks’s politics that has changed—he still describes himself as a Burkean conservative—than his purpose as a writer. When he started out at the Times in 2003, Brooks told me recently, his primary goal was to “represent a Theodore Roosevelt, Whig Party Republicanism. It was a political purpose.” He still tries to do that, he says, but he believes our discussion is “over-politicized and under-moralized, and so we talk too much about every poll and not enough about how to feel gratitude, how to do forgiveness, how to do ritual. So I try to shift the public conversation a little over in the direction of moral and relational life.”

This shift in outlook is manifest most clearly in Brook’s new book, . It’s not a book you might expect from the author of . The book addresses the commitments that define a

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers
They can be identified by their independent-bookstore tote bags, their “Book Lover” mugs, or—most reliably—by the bound, printed stacks of paper they flip through on their lap. They are, for lack of a more specific term, readers. Joining their tribe
The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
The Democratic Debates Aren’t Pleasing Anyone
The candidates hate them. The campaigns hate them. The press hates them. For once in American politics, there’s a consensus.
The Atlantic13 min read
How to Keep Teachers From Leaving the Profession
After 38 years in education, Judith Harper thinks what teachers are missing is more time to learn from one another.