I hope you enjoy this week’s slate of essays. I’ll be taking a Christmas break the next two weeks, but look for the Water Dipper to reappear in January 2020.
Through December 17, you can get 40% off any FPR book by using the discount code JOLLYSAVINGS.
“Trump Wants to Take From the Poor and Give to the Wealthy.” Gracy Olmstead points out that the Farm Bill continues to provide handouts to big farms while tightening requirements for SNAP recipients: “It seems hypocritical to demand that the poorest Americans pull themselves up by their bootstraps while covering the business risk of the nation’s wealthiest agribusinesses.”
“How to Kill Rural Arkansas.” Jared Phillips shows how Sonny Perdue’s “get big or get out” farm policies eviscerate the towns and communities of rural America.
“At War with the Truth.” Craig Whitlock has a lengthy, and very disturbing, report for the Washington Post on the ways in which the Washington D.C. bureaucracy lied about the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
“How to Regulate Pornography.” Terry Schilling explores some possible legal avenues to restricting online pornography.
“America As a Catholic Country.” James Matthew Wilson provides some background on the composition of his recent long poem The River of the Immaculate Conception. He also beautifully weaves together a history of unexpected divine encounters in the Americas.
“The Christian Withdrawal Experiment.” Emma Green tells a fascinating and nuanced story of a small town in Kansas where most residents are members of the SSPX. She situates this group within a broader trend of Americans looking for like-minded communities: “These groups ostensibly have little in common, but they share a sense that living according to their beliefs while continuing to participate in mainstream American life is not possible. They have elected to undertake what might be termed cultural secession.”
“Our Predictions About the Internet Are Probably Wrong.” Cullen Murphy writes for the Atlantic about Elizabeth Eisenstein’s classic work on the effects of the printing press and about how difficult it is to predict accurately how such technologies will affect society.
“What Happens When Only Rich People Give to Charity?” Amy Schiller worries that charities are increasingly forced to rely on a few mega donors rather than a broad base of supporters: “Philanthropy needs to be more egalitarian if it is to retain its legitimacy. As with potlucks, a broad base of contributions hedges against disaster, protects us from the capriciousness of our presumptive hosts and leaves us with enough to go around.”
“Cleaning the Coast.” Laura Trethewey’s new book, The Imperiled Ocean, narrates the lives of people who live and work at sea; this excerpt focuses on a scientist trying to understand and remedy the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
“From Saving the Earth to Ruling the World.” Christopher Caldwell contrasts two approaches to our climate crises: “The ‘ecological’ understanding of nature and what it requires from us is compatible with democracy. Modern ‘environmental’ climate activism is less obviously so.”
“The Cost of America’s Cultural Revolution.” Heather Mac Donald argues that “social-justice crusaders are stripping the future of everything that gives human life meaning: beauty, sublimity, and wit.” (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)