Yokels, John Wesley Powell, and Packaged Pleasures

Photo by George W. Ackerman

Sneering at the Yokels in the Age of Trump.” Jeff Polet contrasts two different ways of writing the elites-from-the-coasts-come-to-the-heartland-to-find-out-why-these-weirdos-voted-for-Trump essay. Some do this poorly, others do it well:

Bourdain allowed his hatred of Trump to be an invitation for his understanding rather than his scorn, which he accomplished by taking on the virtues of a guest. “Here, in the heart of every belief system I’ve mocked or fought against, I was welcomed with open arms by everybody,” he said. He came to understand those who have suffered the costs of exploitation while people on the coasts enjoy the benefits. Instead of offering advice, he listened and broke bread with the locals, admiring and perhaps even envying their sincere prayers to the God he doesn’t believe in.

Nationalism without Idolatry.” Writing in Commonweal, Slavica Jakelić parses the paradoxes of nationalism and Christian citizenship with careful precision. Her essay functions as a brilliant response to the rather blunt statement against nationalism that Commonweal sponsored this past summer.

The Forgotten Treasure In These American Lands.” Gracy Olmstead reminds us of John Wesley Powell’s vision for careful settlement in the arid West and mourns that his “cooperative vision for the West never saw widespread realization.” Nevertheless, she points to some recent examples of planned development that aim to preserve farmland and respect the limited resources of particular places.

If reading about Ernest Gaines’s passing this week has whet your appetite to learn more about his work, try Matthew Teutsch’s essay “For the Black and White Youth of the South.” The Ernest J. Gaines Center has a list of his books and many other resources related to his life and work.

The Berry Center Newsletter.” The Fall/Winter 2019 Berry Center newsletter is out.

The Key to Saving Family Farms Is in the Soil.” David R. Montgomery distills the lessons he learned researching his new book on farming practices that increase soil fertility: “If we restore soil health and save farmers substantial input costs, we can restore smaller farms as a means to a secure living and revive the economic viability of farming communities across small town America.”

Microsoft Japan Says 4-Day Workweek Boosted Workers’ Productivity By 40%.” Bill Chappell reports for NPR on the benefits companies and employees experience when the workweek is shortened.

British Farmers are Not the Enemy in the Battle against the Climate Crisis.” All red meat is not the same, and Joe Stanley argues that farmers who raise well-pastured lifestock are worth supporting.

The Age of Addiction.” Gerald J. Russello reviews Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire by Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor. Such pleasures help create the modern self, the self as a pleasure-maximizing individual. Hence Russello concludes: “We can now live in self-enclosed bubbles of pleasure, but these bubbles have costs, both social, and personal, that we are just beginning to acknowledge and which, for their own reasons, neither the liberal nor libertarian perspectives can fully address.”

Adventures in Learning.” Joshua P. Hochschild reviews a new translation of Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education, in which Giussani lays out a bold vision and argues that education is finally “friendship-making, binding student and teacher into a common experience of the world.”

The Quiet Centrality of Market States.” Jake Meador writes about how American political discourse can be divided between those who think the nation serves the market, and those who want to make the market serve the nation.

Since China Won’t Buy Recyclables, Centers Look for Local Markets.” Lucas Day reports on how high-quality recycling can be part of local economies.

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