P.G. Wodehouse and the Idea of Genius

We might not use the word “genius” in all these contexts, but the mystery is the same. Where did this exceptional ability come from? Is it just another trait like brown eyes or curly hair? We know only that this aptitude defies our disciplines and formulas and couldn’t have been foreseen. Bestowed upon otherwise ordinary people, genius singles them out in one salient regard. It’s a gift that the wise don’t take for granted, a revelation that might beckon each time we visit a gallery, see a movie, attend a concert, open a book.

Severe Mercies and Magnanimous Despair

If students grew up moving from city to city, or if they hail from a soulless suburb, or if they are inevitably complicit in economic and social systems they deplore, does reading Berry put them on a path to despair?

An Exception that Proves the Rule: NFTs Don’t Serve the Great Economy

Chris Hytha is a laudable example of somebody civilizing our approach to digital assets, and I fully support him. I’m glad to see fellow Philly Porchers Anthony Hennen and Nick Russo elevate Hytha’s work, but I don’t see any way to align the Wild West NFT economy with Wendell Berry’s “Great Economy.”

Resist Not Crypto

The status of NFTs in the world of 2027 depends, in large part, on how well we’re able to incorporate them into our positive vision of the good. We can, and should, step back and question them. But to stay removed from the craze is to abdicate our duty to shape the future in accordance with our values. The NFT trend marches on: will we help to choose its destination, or will we resign ourselves to futile finger-wagging?

Your Brains are in Your Hands: Doug Stowe on Forming Mind, Hand, and Culture

Stowe’s book is both timeless and timely. Our physical embodiment as human creatures is always essential, but it is especially so amid increasing digitality. The last two years of pandemic-related economic fluctuations and supply-chain instabilities have further driven home the importance of developing manual competence on a local and familial level, which adds to the book’s importance.

Could You Loan Some Forgiveness?

We should certainly turn our attention to making the credentials necessary for economic participation affordable. But so many of those losing the prime years of their life to debt and stress did nothing wrong. I don’t need any other argument to be in favor of student loan forgiveness.

Living When We Are: A Review of Brisbane

Vodolazkin's novels do for Time what Wendell Berry does for Space: We can't just live where we are, we have to live when we are, too. So thanks to Vodolazkin for the timely reminder. And requiescat in pace, Jack: thanks for doing just that.

Harrowing Times Call for Ordinary Measures

Ordinary practices may not seem to warrant the kind of energy and attention we devote to global and international affairs, especially given the present calamity. But they most certainly do. After all, even the biggest tasks—including the call to partner with God to rule, bless, and love the world—are accomplished one step at a time.

The Front Porch as a Way of Seeing: A Review of The Porch

There is a significant difference between staring at a computer screen and seeing the world through a porch screen. Hailey emphasizes the benefits of seeing from the “threshold between stability and precariousness,” which is nothing like viewing the world from the comfort of a couch in an air-conditioned room, even if the porch is also comfortable.

Localism and the War on Drugs: A Review of The Least of Us

For Quinones, the twin opioid and meth epidemics have their origins in the destruction of community. The decline of local institutions creates a vacuum of isolation and hopelessness in which drugs can gain a foothold, despite all efforts to keep them out. Reading The Least of Us, one is struck again and again by the seeming futility of efforts to solve the drug problem by limiting the available supply of illicit substances.

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From the Archives

Membership in Grace: Reflecting on Dobbs and Gifts

Perhaps activism needs such determined gentleness, illustrated in the pro-life students’ hours of prayer and the work of adoption agencies like my grandmother’s. Activism must be framed by an understanding of common grace, shared depravity, and our implications with each other: our membership, which is “the way we are.”

Optionality and the Intellectual Life: In Gratitude for the Real World Risk Institute

Something about Taleb’s emphasis on practical wisdom unleashes in his readers a sense of humility, a renewed trust in reason, and a spiritual hunger courageous enough to move beyond the cynicism and skepticism typically bred in schools.

America, One Minor League Ballpark at a Time

Being a report on a journey whereupon I dragged my wife to see seven minor league baseball games in seven days, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and including many other wonders seen on the road from Cleveland, Ohio, to Portland, Maine.