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We are living through times that often feel like one long commentary on Joni Mitchell’s line “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” From regular encounters on the street to public sacraments, hospitality in the flesh to basic truth-telling from our leaders, it is not the sophisticated accoutrements of an advanced civilization that have screamed in their absence, but rather the rudimentary things we ordinarily take for granted. And among these invisible “essentials” is something increasingly at risk: trust. Symptoms of the rot abound, and just in the nick of time, many cultural observers are starting to take notice. We commend the diagnostic literature to you, but what this winter issue of Comment does is brave the “what now?” question: What might it take to build some trust back in to our withered commons, and for those who have never tasted trust’s rewards, sow it reliably for the first time?
An introduction to Public Theology for the Common Good