“Wendell Berry.” Silas House recounts a day he spent with the Berrys last summer: “It seems to me that joy, sorrow, and affection are the three things always present in a conversation with” Wendell Berry.
“The Renaissance of the Porch.” Nina Martyris writes that her front porch “provides a sense of community in a time of social distancing.” (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)
“Gardens in the Desert: Classical Educators in Local Community.” Betsy Brown extols the delights of sharing a wall, or at least an apartment complex, with friends: “In Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow, the narrator bemoans the person he became after purchasing an automobile. While I still have and need a car, I have learned how life does improve when so many of the people I respect and know well are a few steps away instead of a drive away.”
“The Restoration of Maxo Vanka’s Working-Class, Immigrant Murals.” Margaret Shakespeare describes the restoration of Maxo Vanka’s remarkable mid-century paintings in a Pittsburgh church. (Recommended by Rob Grano.)
“What’s Behind the Nursing Home Horror.” Charles C. Camosy hopes the coronavirus pulls back the curtain on our society’s mistreatment of the elderly and leads to more humane living arrangements for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
“Oedipus and the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Ryan M. Antiel draws on Wendell Berry and Oedipus Rex to argue that “medicine is at its finest when it restores individual patients to the world of love.” (Recommended by David Lyle Jeffrey.)
“The Danger of Safetyism.” Matthew Crawford recognizes the dangers of the pandemic, but he questions whether technocratic elites are following the science or their version of political correctness: “A pandemic is a deadly serious business. But we would do well to remember that bureaucracies have their own interests, quite apart from the public interest that is their official brief and warrant.”
“The Imperial Imagination.” Michael P. Federici reviews William S. Smith’s Democracy and Imperialism: Irving Babbitt and Warlike Democracies and reminds us that democracies have long harbored imperial ambitions: “Imperialism, then, is more than a political category. It reflects the failure to orient human will to moral restraint and is observed in the conduct of both dictators and humanitarians.”
“Neofeudalism and its New Legitimisers.” This excerpt from Joel Kotkin’s new book (stay tuned for a review here at FPR) outlines the way in which today’s clerisy maintain power: “There are clear dangers in ceding too much power to unelected and unaccountable elites who claim moral authority or expertise backed by higher education.”
“The Book of Repose.” Nathan Beacom draws on Eugene Vodolazkin’s brilliant novel Laurus to ruminate on the ways in which love links us to others and, through our love for one another, to the source of all love.
“The Only Home Her Daughter Has Ever Known.” Elizabeth Bruenig visits St. Ann’s and talks with single mothers who continue doing essential work: “The virus has revealed a paradox at the core of American life: The people whose work we rely on the most often have the least to show for it.”
“The Man Who Predicted 2020.” Examining the books owned by politicians and other prominent figures has become more popular now that we regularly see photos or videos taken in home offices. But we should not be outraged by the fringe titles we may find represented, Aris Roussinos argues. Rather, “we should be pleased that our political representatives are reading offbeat ideas, not necessarily because they believe them, but because they represent the strange intellectual and political ferment of the early 21st century. The idea that There Is No Alternative to the neoliberal consensus is long gone. There are, if anything, too many alternatives, and they represent a future as dangerous as it is exciting.”
“A Predictable Catastrophe in Michigan.” Matthew Walther traces the troubling backstory of the dams that failed this week: “We are an old broken-down country, physically and spiritually, incapable of meaningful action until we find ourselves in the middle of a totally predictable crisis.”
“Spoiled Milk, Rotten Vegetables and a Very Broken Food System.” Jennifer Clapp hopes that the disruptions to our food network during this pandemic will cause us to rethink our overly-specialized food system.
“Donald Trump Doesn’t Want Authority.” Ross Douthat on what the coronavirus has reaffirmed about Trump’s ambitions: “Great men and bad men alike seek attention as a means of getting power, but our president is interested in power only as a means of getting attention.”
“Still Missing the Sweetwater Fruit Market.” Brian Miller nostalgically remembers buying seeds in bulk as a child.