We’ve been getting reports that the new issue of Local Culture is finally arriving in mailboxes. If your copy hasn’t yet come, there’s now a light at the end of the dark tunnel. We hope readers enjoy this substantial issue on the Distributists and that it provokes people to look for ways to make what property they have more productive. Next week, keep an eye out for Adam Schwartz’s essay on G.K. Chesterton’s trip to America.
“Thinking Big to Act Small.” Patrick Deneen’s contribution to the new American Compass project reminds us that our current market of “free radicals” is a result of deliberate policy, and so alternative policies could serve “the creation and preservation of human communities that are built from the bottom up.”
“Liberalism, the American Right, and the Place of Love in Politics.” Jake Meador draws on Eric Gregory to sift through last year’s Ahmari vs. French debate: “What we need is an account of love that recognizes both the ways in which love calls us to positively guide a person to their rightful end and the ways in which love checks our ambitions and recognizes that the first rule of love is to do no harm.”
“The Analog City and the Digital City.” L.M. Sacasas considers how social media is changing the public sphere: “The Internet is not simply a tool with which we do politics well or badly; it has created a new environment that yields a different set of assumptions, principles, and habits from those that ordered American politics in the pre-digital age.”
“The Man Who Tried To Feed The World: A Tale of Good Deeds and Unintended Consequences” This PBS documentary narrates the story of Norman Borlaug and the green revolution he helped to lead. (Recommended by Niaz Khadem.)
“Scrambling the Political Divide: ‘No Normal Recession.’” Lisa Lerer talks with Senator Josh Hawley about his bold plan to keep people employed even when they can’t go to work.
“Tracking the ‘Murder Hornet’: A Deadly Pest Has Reached North America.” There are invasive species, and then there are invasive species. Mike Baker reports on a nasty one.
“Wisdom and Folly in Christian Responses to Coronavirus.” Alastair Roberts examines some of the responses to the coronavirus against the standards of Wisdom literature. He defines several attributes of wisdom and folly, and I thought his analysis of foolish scoffing particularly good: “When a fool is faced with an unwelcome viewpoint, his characteristic response is scoffing, ridicule, or dismissal, rather than careful and thoughtful engagement. Levity and scorn are a refuge against correction.”
“Imagining a Shared Economy: An Interview with Willie Jennings.” Willie Jennings reflects on the injustices of our modern economy: “It’s a terrible irony that our connectivity has not yielded a shared ethic of community. We’re suffering from a combination of connectedness and a lack of community or more precisely an ability to sense the suffering of communities in any dense sense of connection.”
“Op-ed: Growing an Appreciation for the Hands That Feed Us.” Mas Masumoto “The coronavirus exposes a simple fact that we farmers have long known about food: we are not alone. Our food chains bond and connect people to those who grow, distribute, prepare, deliver food. Now, those chains have been threatened by major disruptions. Daily, Americans are forced to ask: Where does my food come from?”
“Cats and Sixty Foot Whales: Reflections on Children’s Books.” Tara Thieke critiques many modern children’s books for flattening the world and shearing it of wonder. She also includes a list of good ones.
“Elegy and Plenitude in the Wild.” Dean Flower considers how various authors represent natural ecosystems—as fragile and on the brink of extinction, or as resilient and vital, if we just give them a chance to flourish. (Recommended by Rob Grano.)
“On Decadence, Decline, and Hope for a Renaissance.” Walter A. McDougall has a long and insightful meditation on Ross Douthat’s book. Stay for the whole thing: “I believe we shall know that postmodern America has begun to exit La Décadence only when her people embrace faith, hope, and charity, and begin to create beauty again.”
“Rediscovering Home.” Scott Beauchamp traces the “unmistakable echoes of home in Eliot’s poems of homelessness.”
“What Is Beauty?” Michial Farmer tries to define beauty. This is a challenging but important task, for if emotivism is “a dangerous view when it comes to goodness, we must at least entertain the notion that it’s also dangerous when it comes to beauty.”
“In Your Light We See Light.” Ellen F. Davis and Sandra McCracken talk—and sing—about the psalms and displacement in this podcast conversation.
“It’s Time to Build for Good.” Isaac Wilks looks at the underlying work that must be done before we try to restore America’s manufacturing capacity:
We must further ask: what are you building for? Who are you building for? What kind of building will best serve the common good? Everything worth building in American history has been fueled with the meaning bursting forth from these questions. We lack the means to build, yes—but above all, we lack the ends. If technology is to serve humanity, it needs an end.
“Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing.” Ed Yong continues to write thoughtful essays about the coronavirus for the Atlantic. His most recent one has several important points, including one about limits: “In a pandemic, the strongest attractor of trust shouldn’t be confidence, but the recognition of one’s limits, the tendency to point at expertise beyond one’s own, and the willingness to work as part of a whole.”