“A Flourishing Tree.” Tamara Hill Murphy reviews Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace by Christie Purifoy, a book that circles “round and round the subject of finding, losing, and making home.”
“Two Tolkiens, One Better World.” Bradley J. Birzer reviews The Fall of Gondolin, the latest—and apparently final—result of Christopher Tolkien’s years of loving editorial work on his father’s rich mythology.
“Moral Reasoning in an Acceptable Time.” Matt Miller reviews the new Library of America edition of several Madeleine L’Engle’s novels: The Kairos Novels: The Wrinkle in Time and Polly O’Keefe Quartets. He praises their imaginative vision but also notes that “on the level of moral vocabulary, … L’Engle’s work does not challenge the Modern Moral Order, but all too often uncritically accepts its terms.”
“A Green New Deal for Agriculture.” Raj Patel and Jim Goodman write for Jacobin about how Green New Deal agricultural policies might build on the successes and failures of the New Deal. Some of their proposals are good, others probably aren’t, but they are right to decry our current system of farm subsidies and their insidious effects: “It’s rarely profitable to farm agroecologically when the rules of the game reward ecological devastation, worker exploitation, and monoculture.”
“Where Science Warnings Fail, Can Moral Force Push Us Out of Climate Inertia?” Brian Roewe describes how the Catholic Church has responded to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ since it was released four years ago.
“Irrigating Deserts.” Walker Cosgrove reviews three recent books on education to sketch a vision of hope amid the arid landscape of higher education.
“The Spirituality of Mending.” Laura Everett praises the joys of repairing textiles—both personal and cosmic.
“Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa.” Matt Day, Giles Turner, and Natalia Drozdiak report for Bloomberg on the Amazon workers who spend nine hour days listening to audio recordings captured by Alexa.
“The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News.” Michael Luo, writing for The New Yorker, argues that when it comes to journalism, more is not always better: “Although I’m reading more than ever before, it often feels like I’m understanding less.” What would a “slow media” look like?
“The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch.” James K.A. Smith reviews Gary Browning’s Why Iris Murdoch Matters and ponders the relationship between literature and philosophy: “At the heart of Murdoch’s moral vision is what she calls “unselfing,” something surely worth revisiting in the age of the selfie.”
“The Radicalism of Russell Kirk.” Michael Warren Davis challenges readers to listen to the authentic Kirk: “The conservatism of Russell Kirk bears little resemblance to the Republican Party or the right-of-center media in 2019.” But Kirk may be a guide for “Millennial traditionalists” who value “friendship, family, community, an honest day’s work, real music, good books, and above all God.”
“The Not-So-New Populism.” In a long essay for The American Conservative, Ryan Girdusky argues that Trump and Brexit didn’t come from nowhere: “A global view … suggests that between 1998 and 2014, the rise of populist-nationalism was small but steady; however, this political impulse was still limited until 2015. Then, the actions taken by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel turned the embers of populist-nationalism into a forest fire.”