Articles by Josh Nadeau
By Josh Nadeau
December 11, 2020
Josh Nadeau reports on a study showing families becoming crucibles for toxic political contempt when they could be sources of pluralistic tolerance for divergent views.
So just what can be done? How can families invested in their political or religious identities maintain their positions without contributing to an increasingly hostile and polarized culture? While the three authors of the report don’t venture to suggest a solution, it’s clear from their research what a good set of first steps would be While this might seem like a positive sign of familial unity (by no means necessarily a bad thing), Iyengar, Konitzer and Tedin describe polarization as a tendency to compete with, or increasingly sever, connections to people on the other side of an ideological debate They measure two different factors contributing to polarization: political or religious agreement between parents, and between parents and children
November 2, 2020
Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequel satirizing America’s cultural moment is at once crude and convincing yet suffers from a cruel refusal to see those it mocks as human, Josh Nadeau writes.
The movie, for all its points, comes up short when speaking about dialogue, analysis or understanding – this only furthers political polarization and does nothing to heal the wounds of a divided culture It’s a sequel to 2006’s Borat, which saw comedian Sacha Baron Cohen don the role of a fictitious ...
February 10, 2020
A new HBO miniseries explores Vatican power politics – but does it cause offense or invite deeper reflection? Both, argues Convivium contributor Josh Nadeau.
This is essentially the major issue with The New Pope: it is obsessed with the history, costumes and drama of the papacy but, like many other shows and films before, it appropriates them to tell a story that marginalizes the experiences of actual clergy and lay Catholics And while some may complain ...
December 12, 2019
In the second of a two-part series, Josh Nadeau examines a way to engage with people who think differently, as well as come together to heal our polarized society.
One side asked people to engage and ask more questions before acting (the engagers, or positive peace), while the other celebrated the immediate removal of a man whose comments were seen as aggressive and potentially threatening to a vulnerable population (the protectors, or negative peace) Take the...
December 11, 2019
In the first of a two-part series, Josh Nadeau contends for civility, dialogue and engagement as necessary ingredients for a healthy society.
On the other hand, there are groups that see civility, dialogue and engagement as necessary ingredients for a healthy society Pay enough attention to the back-and-forth between prestige essayists or bloggers and you’ll see it in the tall grass: a conversation about whether it’s more important to sho...
October 9, 2019
Josh Nadeau explores psychologist Marshall Rosenberg’s theory of nonviolent communication, looking to a puppy problem among roommates.
As with any time you’re doing high-risk (and resource-heavy) engagement in any kind of conflict situation, no matter at home or abroad, you have to decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth the trouble I’m something of a sucker for communities – as an introverted freelance writer, it’s a way of ...
August 26, 2019
Convivium contributor Josh Nadeau continues his series of occasional essays on how our Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic culture can overcome its built-in tension between freedom and safety.
Due to major social, political and infrastructural development, more people were finding their needs met in ways that allowed them to detach from rigid group structures and pursue avenues of self-expression and realization Third, be aware that forming groups or communities sometimes comes at a great...
May 13, 2019
Weekly media teeth-gnashing over deepening political polarization is finally turning up good news, writes Josh Nadeau. A path back to true pluralism leads through small local institutions such as places called Judy's Diner.
How can we identify the small-scale institutions that strengthen civil society against polarization? How can we provide spaces for genuine contact between people with opposing political views? And can we achieve this before both disappear in the midst of a future cultural crisis? And this, perhaps, ...
February 26, 2019
Convivium regular contributor Josh Nadeau asks a quartet of Canadian literature-makers about the legacy of Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, whose first collection of stories was published 50 years ago.
I taught "The Progress of Love" for the first time last fall, and I'm not sure it was a particularly helpful experience for the students, since I just kept wanting to say, "Do you understand how ridiculously hard it is to write a story that does all these things?" – as if we were trying to quietly a...
January 4, 2019
In the lull after Christmas and New Year’s, Josh Nadeau finds the pursuit of peace ever-elusive but never more imperative.
Pressing for a unity between these two seemingly different pulls, that of inner and outer peace, is a large part of what it means to be a person of faith in the world today ...
September 12, 2018
On today’s 10th anniversary of literary lion David Foster Wallace’s death, Convivium regular contributor Josh Nadeau reflects on the way his works made “fear of religion irrelevant because, in the end, we’re all worshippers.”
The point he’s making is that these are the kinds of worship that demand attention, that resist the easy, default-mode of ignoring the "water" we’re all living in together Think the kind of attention that drove him to create swarming, pedantic, literary mosaics of people whose commonplace lives, und...
June 8, 2018
If literature has ability and duty to blend social issues with intimate character, Convivium contributor Josh Nadeau writes, the novels of Robertson Davies reveal those in-between spaces where things are, and are not.
And as art can be a powerful way of checking the pulse, as it were, of our cultural and public life, it’s worth looking at one Canadian writer in particular who very much embodies a number of these concerns in his work and life: Robertson Davies This is how novels (along with contemporary TV series)...
March 19, 2018
Convivium critic Josh Nadeau says The Leftovers TV series marks the return of Christian faith as a subject for mainstream cultural exploration, and even fascination.
Over the course of three seasons each character staggers through crises of faith and doubt, and questions of God’s existence, or how to deal with one’s powerlessness in the face of the inexplicable, are addressed with dignity, integrity and courage Left Behind, along with other famous Christian fran...
February 16, 2018
Josh Nadeau finds virtue in the signals sent by superhero cinema.
But if we can’t forget what we’ve learned about the world (and about ourselves), neither can we let go of our need for moral fantasy, inspiration, role models, or our collective hunger for a richer vision for the world – superhero movies, for all their flaws and compromises, boldly straddle these de...
November 28, 2017
Writing from Central Asia after years of “extravagant mobility,” Convivium contributor Josh Nadeau finds the complexities of geopolitics pale beside the challenges of witnessing God in every human encounter
We’re obviously not God and will never be, but there may be a call here particularly for people of faith to take up the work of radical empathy, a radical presence that seeks to cut through even the white noise of a place as complicated as Central Asia and find, on the other side, a link to people t...
September 11, 2017
Convivium contributor Josh Nadeau offers an exercise to show why dialogue that begins with listening needs to move on to asking “why” if we’re to regain the capacity to disagree with civility.
Thankfully this can start with a simple question: why? Why might someone think differently than I do? Why might people be reacting so strongly to this? Are there factors that could be hard for me to see? And, because things don’t happen in a vacuum, asking about the history behind an issue is huge –...
August 1, 2017
The advent of digital nomadism, Josh Nadeau writes from experience, opens the door to home becoming pilgrimage, and roots becoming spirit to stretch instead of matter that restrains.
Whether you’re on a weekend getaway, heading on a short pilgrimage, taking your kids for a volunteer month abroad, or are living the life of a digital nomad, you can angle yourself to be reacquainted with the beauty of the world, the terror of the unknown, the humility of being small and outside you...
July 6, 2017
Contributor Josh Nadeau takes Convivium readers on an examination of modern television, exploring themes like dignity and "loving one's enemy" that appear within contemporary dramas if only viewers have the eyes to see.
What if we take the time to observe each other, to grant dignity or the benefit of the doubt? What if, in addition to giving each other space to be heard and to express ourselves, we also try to find the roots of why we believe what we do? What if we change the paradigm from us vs them to we, where ...
May 18, 2017
Convivium Contributor Josh Nadeau reports on the carefully layered nuance of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale and makes the case for why readers should give it a closer look.
What if, though, there are ways of defusing the dynamics of culture war, ways of avoiding these unhelpful, online shouting matches? How can conservative believers, of any faith, react to The Handmaid’s Tale in a way that brings us closer to the root causes of conflict in our society? Most of the at...