The Porch will likely be quiet this coming week as we celebrate the Christmas season. Enjoy these next few days on a real porch (or, more likely, in front of a fire), and come back in the new year.

Reign of Love: The Fiction of Wendell Berry.” Eric Miller finds that reading through Berry’s Port William fiction “according to the date of each story’s original publication … unveil[s] a shifting understanding of the world. A close reading reveals, quite simply, that love grows: grows fuller in its place in his stories and more central as a presence in our lives.”

The Virtue of Small-Scale Production: Toward a Political Economy of Gift and Craft.” Stephen Wolfe considers the philosophy and practice of local, meaningful work.

Sour ’68.” Joseph Bottum and Justin L. Blessinger compare two tumultuous years: “As much as 2018 seems a curdled year, clotted and congealed, 1968 was far worse.”

The Hard Truths of Trying to ‘Save’ the Rural Economy.” If you want to read a typically tone-deaf New York Times article about rural America, try this one by Eduardo Porter: “One thing seems clear to me: nobody — not experts or policymakers or people in these communities — seems to know quite how to pick rural America up.” Perhaps this is because the only “experts” the author considers are those trying to find some way to “hitch” rural America to the “tech-heavy economy.” Since, for the most part, technology only amplifies the inequalities of a capital-driven economy, this method probably won’t work. It is possible that rural America is struggling because it’s being treated like a colony whose resources are being extracted with increasing, technologically-enabled efficiency.

“Plough Quarterly No. 19: School for Life.” The new issue of Plough Quarterly has some thoughtful reflections on education broadly construed.

The Man Who Saved Reading.” Scott Thomas Anderson profiles Dana Gioia as California’s poet laureate concludes his term of service. From his days as the leader of the NEA to his mission to visit all 58 California counties, Gioia has been inspiring people with the joys of reading.

Hope and Change.” Emina Melonic isn’t convinced that Martha Nussbaum’s new book offers the prescriptions our society needs.

Losing the Farm.” Ryan Schnurr interweaves his own family’s relationship with a farm in Indiana with the larger story of American agriculture. (Recommended by Josh Mabie.)

The Limits of Liberalism: Tradition, Individualism, and the Crisis of Freedom.” FPR President Mark Mitchell has a new book out. Look for a review in the coming weeks.

Beauty Alone Won’t Save Us.” Jeff Polet warns that teaching students to appreciate “beauty” without rooting this beauty in truth won’t remedy the ills of the academy.

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