“Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing,” so reads a rather standard set of instructions for determining one’s pulse and target heart rate. But those seemingly routine instructions—feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers—have an unsettling aftertaste. They suggest the expected rhythm of the blood but also the potential eerie, arhythmic pulses that translate into something more ominous, some harbinger of health decline. And so it is no surprise that taking the labile pulse of our global economic health induces panic for everyone from the political pundit to the daily commuter, retiree, and college student.

The signs of disease are everywhere—unemployment rates over 10 percent; scarce access to credit and decaying credit ratings; shrinking bank accounts; skyrocketing debt, both nationally and personally; home foreclosures aplenty, and a growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor. This decade has changed us all. It burned away many of our self-deceptions, reminding us of our vulnerabilities (e.g., 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq) and that if something seems too good to be true it probably is (e.g., real estate, Tiger Woods, our liberal and conservative political icons).

But all queasiness aside, there is a pulse and a hope that the pain of the decade can be overcome. In this issue, we ask contributors to take the pulse of America and the global economy and to offer Christian accounts of hope for grounding amid decline. We will publish essays, reviews, creative writing, and art exhibits that engage our time of decline and locate hope amid and beyond such a theater of despair.

Throughout the winter and into early spring we will be publishing new content, so be sure to check back regularly and/or sign up for our RSS feed.