Sign up to receive “Critic’s Notebook” in your inbox every week—it only takes a few seconds and it’s completely free! “Critic’s Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in New York and beyond, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.

Caetlynn Booth, Selvage, 2014–16, Oil on panel,
On display at the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

This week: A return to tradition & an uptown exhibition


The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher (Sentinel): The political and social disorder coursing through the West, which strikes many observers as unprecedented, looks rather familiar to those with a longer cultural memory. Traditional Christians frequently note the similarity between the decadence of our days and that of the Dark Ages, and Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option has become the locus classicus of an entire new genre dedicated to charting a course for Christians through these shadowy times. The solution that Dreher proposes, named “the Benedict Option” after the monastic St. Benedict, urges Christians to develop institutions and a self-understanding sturdy enough to withstand the confused turbulence of the mainstream culture. This Thursday, Dreher will be joined on a panel by R. R. Reno of First Things, the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, and others to discuss how the Benedict Option might be put into practice—register for a livestream of the event here. MU


Caetlynn Booth, Swamp Shimmer (detail), Oil on panel, On display at the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“2017 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts” at the American Academy of Arts and Letters (through April 9): Looking for a survey of contemporary art that isn’t the Whitney Biennial (returning this week after a three-year hiatus)? Then head north from the Meatpacking District to 155th Street and Broadway, where the 2017 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts remains on view at the American Academy of Arts and Letters through Sunday, April 9. With thirty-five artists selected from 165 nominees, the Invitational opens the doors of this secretive arts association, where work by artists is chosen by members of the academy to be purchased and donated to American museums. In addition to the virtues of another tight exhibition spread across this institution’s rambling campus on Audubon Terrace, be sure to look for the paintings of Caetlynn Booth, our colleague at The New Criterion, selected for inclusion in this year’s exhibition. JP


Sarah Connolly in recital at the Park Avenue Armory (March 15 & 17) and the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Grand Finals Concert (March 19): Hearing a great singer of art song in an intimate setting is one of the supreme pleasures of concertgoing. Though its schedule is not as tightly packed as that of some other venues, the Park Avenue Armory brings leading recitalists for a concert series presented in the Board of Officers Room. This week the superb Sarah Connolly offers works by Copland, Berlioz, Schumann, and Poulenc, accompanied by Joseph Middleton.

For a grander sort of singing, consider the finals of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, the culmination of the company’s prestigious singing competition, this Sunday. The concert offers a chance to hear some of the country’s most promising operatic singers just as they begin their careers: past winners have included Eric Owens, Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Frederica von Stade, Teresa Stratas, Jessye Norman, Shirley Verrett, and many other legendary Met performers. —ECS


“West Side Stories” architectural tour hosted by the Municipal Art Society (March 18): In a way, the apartment buildings of Manhattan’s Upper West Side exemplify the adage “good things come to those who wait.” The area was undeveloped during New York’s period of helter-skelter construction of the mid-nineteenth century, and by the time a new subway line brought new residents to the neighborhood, Gilded-Age architects were ready to build it up in the brilliant Beaux-Arts style of the day. On Saturday, Diana Gold of the Municipal Arts Society will lead a historical tour through highlights of the Upper West, helping visitors frame their appreciation of the vistas with vignettes from the neighborhood’s history. MU

From the archive: “The difficulty with Hegel,” by Roger Kimball: Reflections on the philosopher, in regard to the biography by Terry Pinkard.

From the current issue: “The Vatican’s Latinist,” by John Byron Kuhner: On the legendary career of Reginald Foster.

Broadcast: “I swear by Apollo”: the art historian Michael J. Lewis discusses the evolution of museum architecture.

Introduce yourself to The New Criterion for the lowest price ever—and a receive an extra issue as thanks.