Plough Quarterly No. 20: The Welcome Table. The Spring issue of Plough Quarterly is online and has many essays of interest to Porchers. To mention just a few, Norman Wirzba writes about hospitality and gardening, Johannes Meier describes how Australian farmers are responding to drought, and Sarah Ruden reflects on the morality and pleasures of eating meat. In an online supplement to the issue, I reviewed the new Library of America collection of Wendell Berry’s essays and took the opportunity to consider Berry’s legacy as an essayist. In brief, I suggest that “the unsettling of America leads directly to the polarization of America.”
“Vagrants on the Earth: Implications of Topsoil Loss.” Debra Fiakas weighs the impacts of topsoil loss. While her focus is on how investors should respond to this problem, she provides a good overview of the causes and effects of this ongoing loss. (Recommended by Jason Peters.)
“Could the Ancient Jewish Practice of Shmita Be a New Tool for Sustainable Ag?” Ethan Blake, writing in Civil Eats, describes how letting soil rest every seven years helps it regain fertility.
“Leveling the Playing Field for America’s Family Farmers.” Elizabeth Warren released a paper outlining her agricultural policy proposals. Many of them are actually quite good, although as with any campaign promises, one must remember that “there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” Now if only some candidates would start talking about the 50-year Farm Bill…
“Hell in a Bucket, Life in a Cup.” Bill Kauffman remembers the life of a friend who lost everything—twice—but was found by God.
“Sophomore Inclinations and the Research University.” Pavlos Papadopoulos reviews The Rise of the Research University: A Sourcebook, edited by Louis Menand, Paul Reitter, and Chad Wellmon, for the University Bookman. He concludes: “It should little surprise us, then, that the institution designed to turn the best and the brightest into the specialists who would most efficiently advance the conquest of nature for the relief of man’s estate has been thought a poor field for the cultivation of human flourishing and a poor steward to a free society.”
“Creating Conservative Universities Is Not the Answer.” Alan Jacobs argues in The Atlantic that creating parallel, conservative institutions isn’t the best response to the challenges posed by an increasingly liberal, “woke” academy.
“Transhumanism and the Cult of ‘Better, Faster, Stronger.’” Andy Crouch reviews two recent books for Christianity Today that uncover the ways technology functions as the “central ideology of our age,” concluding that “the road to human perfection lies not through technological enhancement but through a voluntary embrace of limits, suffering, and death—and the demonstration of extraordinary love.”
“After Hegemony: A Conservative Foreign Policy.” Jared Morgan McKinney describes the “liberal hegemony” that rules foreign policy elites from both parties and reviews three recent books in the process of positing an alternative foreign policy guided by ”peace, prudence, and restraint.”
“Baseball And The American Soul.” Nathan Beacom writes an opening-day ode to America’s pastime: “Maybe we should be concerned, not that the game is too slow, but that we have grown too impatient to appreciate it.”
“Major Cities Capture 9 of Every 10 New Jobs.” At the Daily Yonder, Bill Bishop reports on the employment changes over the past 12 years. The upshot is that rural America is losing jobs while large cities are gaining them.
“Whose Reaganism? Which Republicanism?” Jake Meador responds to the recent First Things“Against the Dead Consensus” statement, writing: “If we reject ‘Reaganism’ without reckoning with the bad faith of many of its proponents, such that their words and actions virtually never aligned in a real way, then we run the risk of closing off promising intellectual paths due to vicious behaviors that tell us more about the individuals than they do about the cogency of the policies.”
“Recycling in the US Will Survive—Despite the Media Narrative.” Neil Seldman and Peter Anderson explain why single-stream recycling was attractive to large waste companies, and how China’s decision to stop accepting contaminated recycling should lead to a revival of dual-stream systems and local processing.
“The Neo-Regionalist Moment: Hearing the Emerging Voices of the American Center.” In a masterful review of three recent books from the Midwest, Jon K. Lauck considers whether we’re in the midst of a revival of interest in the Midwest and what it might take to sustain attention to this region.
“Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism.” Nicholas Carr reviews Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Her thesis is that “by reengineering the economy and society to their own benefit, Google and Facebook are perverting capitalism in a way that undermines personal freedom and corrodes democracy.” (Recommended by Rob Grano.)