A skeptic’s take on such a variety of experience would chalk it up as privileged gonzo larkishness or chest-beating thrill-seeking—an understandable take, one likely partly true. But there was more to it. For I’ve not acknowledged the murders of his father and uncle; the psychic fallout in the family afterward; and his years-long struggle with drug addiction. That Mr. Kennedy had such an appetite for life despite these harrowings is considerable.
Witnessing the ascendancy of the Machine, Lewis understood what was at stake. He watched this ideology sweep across his society and take hold in its schools, and he keenly felt the loss of what was so hastily displaced and soon forgotten. The medieval worldview that Lewis cherished was replaced by an ideology that breeds nihilism and despair.
What struck me most in reading the book was the role of risk-taking and personal leadership in an organization’s founding phase, and the necessity of consolidating and institutionalizing its vision, so that it outlasts its founders. Such lessons have applicability far beyond the world of furniture.
I’ve also been struck by the number of people in the book-producing-and-selling business who are uninterested in their product. On the retail end, there was the manager of a bookstore who admitted, without embarrassment, that she doesn’t read books and never has. She might as well have been stamping passports for the lack of excitement and knowledge she exhibited as she went about putting books on the shelves.
We’ve recently started the annual tradition (three years going strong!) of holding a wild game dinner with our friends and church community. Each family brings a dish harvested from the East Texas area, and past menus have included crab, venison, wild pig, crappie, and, of course, squirrel. We tell stories about the harvest of each, and each family explains how the dish was prepared—from start to finish.
We live in fractured days, lacking in harmony, civility, and comity. “Comity,” an old word for courtesy and kindness, is related etymologically to the Sanskrit word for “smile.” As it often does, etymology here beautifully illuminates a reality, in this case about both kindness and smiling: they unceasingly bring warmth, joy, and a smile to both giver and receiver.
Wendell Berry's fiction shows what relationships look like with skin on—how real relationships are enacted between people. As the characters who inhabit the fictional town Port William interact, they demonstrate how individuals can either perpetuate or obstruct meaningful relationships. The lives of two characters in particular, Hannah and Burley Coulter, have a lot to teach us about relationships and liberty. Together, Hannah and Burley demonstrate how caring for people in committed relationships requires moving beyond personal liberty for the sake of the other.
Why does my third child, my little son whom I mention above, need me to be in physical contact with him while he reads? Because it helps him feel warm and safe, I imagine, and so he is not as afraid of making mistakes. Alternative educators recognized this in the classroom decades ago: that children read better with an adult’s arm around them, or while piled onto soft pillows with a couple of friends.
I did some research with the help of a “dumb phone finder” which told me the functions, network compatibilities, and reviews of the available flip phones and other simplicity-oriented devices. I identified one that was an acceptable price, was still able to run one or two of the apps that I actually do need, and was compatible with my network (or so I thought).
County Highway is not county-specific. It’s for all of America outside major cities. Well, outside of New York and Los Angeles, for sure. In the second issue, there’s a piece about unions in Las Vegas. Another “outsider” voice comes from Miami, though he travels to Puerto Rico. It’s “the rest of America,” but it’s not necessarily rural America, despite the squirrel recipe.
From the Archives
" None of your readers need me to tell them that the useful work is practical, particular, small and careful: to get away from screens as much as we can, get close to the woods, get close to God, get close to real community. All of the small, old things. Build networks of grounded reality that are not entangled in the wires of the technium. Forge independence."
The same things that happened to the family farms, and to farmers like my father, are now happening to the colleges, and to faculty like me.
Women like Tanya bring artistry and honor to everything they touch: the homes they inhabit, the land they steward, the children they raise. These photographs are testimony to the clear, sharp eye of a woman who is herself an artist—and who brings that artistic gaze to every endeavor she undertakes.