“Percy and the Persistence of Alienation.” Emina Melonic reviews Brian Smith’s Walker Percy and the Politics of the Wayfarer, arguing that Percy’s definition of the human as wayfarer has much to teach us in our age of disconnection and alienation.
“Why the World’s Recycling System Stopped Working.” Leslie Hook and John Reed trace the ripple effects of China’s decision to enforce tighter regulations on what kinds of waste they accept. Our recycling processes have never been very effective, and this provides an opportunity to give them a much needed reevaluation.
“Dispatch from Flyover Country.” Meghan O’Gieblyn writes about what it’s like to live in the Midwest:
Over time, I came to dread the parties and potlucks. Most of the people we knew had spent time on the coasts, or had come from there, or were frequently traveling from one to the other, and the conversation was always about what was happening elsewhere: what people were listening to in Williams-burg, or what everyone was wearing at Coachella. A sizeable portion of the evening was devoted to the plots of premium TV dramas. Occasionally there were long arguments about actual ideas, but they always crumbled into semantics. What do you mean by duty? someone would say. Or: It all depends on your definition of morality. At the end of these nights, I would get into the car with the first throb of a migraine, saying that we didn’t have any business discussing anything until we could, all of us, articulate a coherent ideology. It seemed to me then that we suffered from the fundamental delusion that we had elevated ourselves above the rubble of hinterland ignorance—that fair-trade coffee and Orange You Glad It’s Vegan? cake had somehow redeemed us of our sins. All of us had, like the man in the parable, built our houses on sand.
This essay is collected in O’Gieblyn’s new book, Interior States; keep an eye out for a forthcoming review in FPR. (Recommended by Aaron Brown)
“Reclaiming the Household.” John Cuddeback urges us to focus on revitalizing households rather than mere families.
“Wendell Berry & Gary Snyder are Distant Neighbors.” Paul Swanson talks with Chad Wriglesworth about the correspondence between Berry and Snyder and the process of publishing this volume of their letters.
“Nationalist and Conservative and Disappointed.” Michael Brendan Dougherty evaluates Trump’s attempts at nationalism and finds them woefully inadequate.
“Who Won the Reformation?” Ross Douthat’s answer isn’t cheery: “Cromwellism, mass murder in the service of secular power and commercial wealth.”
“Donald Hall’s Late Burst of Creativity.” Mike Pride writes about his friend’s last years of writing in the shadow of death. As Hall wrote him, “Rumor has it that all of us die.”
“Holy Clutter.” Matt Miller takes stock of both the wisdom and the shortcomings of minimalism.
“Russell Kirk and the Populist Moment.” On November 15, a panel will convene at Hope College to discuss how we might “balance pressures from populist movements on the political left and right with the need for stability and leadership.” Porcher Jeff Polet will be one of the speakers.
“Faith and Democracy in America: Christianity and Liberalism Rightly Understood.” On December 6 and 7, Calvin College is hosting a conference where keynote speakers James K.A. Smith and Patrick Deneen will defend different ways of understanding the relationship between faith and democracy. Jeff Polet will be speaking there as well, and I’ll be in attendance.