“Conscience and Resistance.” Earlier this year, Scott Russell Sanders described the profound effect that Thomas Merton had on his life: “Beginning with ‘Rain and the Rhinoceros,’ his work has helped me understand that our ecological crisis is, at root, a spiritual crisis. We abuse and exploit Earth for the same reason we abuse and exploit one another: because we have lost a sense of kinship with our fellow human beings, with other species, and with our planetary home.”
“Amish Arrivals: Old Ways are New again in Quiet Manitoba Town.” Cameron MacLean reports on a community of Amish who are migrating to cheaper farm land. One of the previous residents told him: “We are overwhelmed almost in seeing that people in the 21st century here are making a livelihood the way our forefathers did in the 19th century. That is quite an eye opener.” (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)
“A Photographer Goes Missing in China.” Lu Guang, a photographer who has documented the ecological and human toll of China’s development, has been detained by the Chinese government. His photos are haunting.
“America’s New Religions.” Andrew Sullivan asks a pointed question: what happens when liberalism loses the Christian “rampart” that sustained it? Bad things.
“My New Reform Plan Will Drain Democratic and Republican Ethics Swamp.” Ben Sasse proposes 5 ways to begin cutting off the flow of cash to the people who purport to be “public servants.”
“Can Innovative Rural Schools Stem the Urban Bleed?.” Arielle Dreher writes about how schools, local governments, and business are exploring creative ways to encourage young people to stay in the American heartland.
“Right-Sizing American Capitalism.” Writing for Democracy, Matt Stoller considers policies that might decrease the centralization of our current economy.
“The Berry Center Newsletter.” The fall newsletter contains updates on the various educational, agricultural, and cultural programs the Berry Center sponsors.
”Costco’s 100 Million Chickens Will Change the Face of Nebraska.” Twilight Greenaway reports that in Nebraska, the price of corn today is what it was in 1973, so some farmers are desperate enough to try something else: raising chickens for Costco. (Recommended by Gracy Olmstead.)
“A Killing Season.” Boyce Upholt describes the tensions that dicamba-resistent soybean seeds are causing: “Monsanto denies that it wants a product that is prone to drift, but the fact that the herbicide can spread easily offers a clear advantage to the company. Once one local farmer adopts the technology, his neighbors have little choice but to do the same.” (Recommended by Gracy Olmstead.)
There’s been a lot written on the new Farm Bill. It seems that, in general, it’s more business as usual, but some see improvements in the legislation. As usual, Gracy Olmstead, writing in the New York Times, has the best assessment: “The alarming trends call for urgent attention and action — but it’s not what we get from the new bill. As fewer and older farmers produce a less diverse and sustainable array of food, we desperately need to support small and midsize producers and cultivate a more sustainable system of agriculture. Ultimately, Farm Bill reform is not just about saving taxpayer money or fighting cronyism — it is about saving the nation’s farms.”
“Hubert Humphrey: Neocon Before the Neocons.” Bill Kauffman isn’t a fan of the “warefare-welfare,” “guns-and-butter” coalition that Humphrey represented.
“Our New Religion.” Gerald Russello reviews Daniel J. Mahoney’s The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity, and he warns that humanitarianism without God threatens the basis of humane politics.
“Mr Wellmon’s University.” Alan Jacobs summarizes Chad Wellmon’s ongoing efforts to describe the goods intrinsic to universities. You can also watch Professor Wellmon’s lecture that provoked this summary.
“God the Homemaker and the Promise of Taylor University.” Paul House reflects on what it might mean for a university to serve its place.
“The Best Books I Read in 2018.” Charles Marohn, the keynote speaker at FPR’s conference a year ago, recommends some of the books he’s read this year, including one by Patrick Deneen.