“Reconsidering the Statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln.” Allen Guelzo reviews—and highly commends—Jon Schaff’s Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship: “The reader will come to the book’s end wishing that such a statesman as Schaff describes still lives. Or, perhaps more darkly, wondering whether we would still deserve such a one.”
“Bernard Bailyn, Eminent Historian of Early America, Dies at 97.” Renwick McLean and Jennifer Schuessler narrate Bailyn’s remarkable career and why his books continue to be essential for understanding the American colonial period.
“Nick Offerman: Serious Fun.” Nancy Hiller profiles a woodworker, actor, and author who has a lot of respect for Wendell Berry. He shares some good stories and even some wisdom: “by remaining open to life’s possibilities, and placing my relationship above my own selfish needs, I think I reaped a good deal more bounty than I would have otherwise.”
“Christian Humanist Profiles 194: The Culinary Plagiarist.” Michial Farmer discusses the newest title from FPR Books with the author, Jason Peters. It’s serious fun indeed.
“The Problem of Force: Simone Weil‘s Supernatural Justice.” Scott Beauchamp considers what Weil’s radical ethic might make of the violence endemic in our society:
In the near distance of our consciousness are stories of the militarization of police, of weapons and tactics better suited for the battlefield put to grim use in American streets. The flip side of that coin is the attendant police-ification of the military, of the Army being forced into playing various roles which it really isn’t designed to perform: city planning, public health, law enforcement, etc. Both arise, materially, from the willingness to bloat police and Pentagon budgets while gutting services vital to civil society. But there’s also an attendant failure of moral imagination. Police and soldiers both are empowered by the state to commit violence on its behalf. When a problem becomes too much of a problem, they’re authorized, within certain pliable legal parameters, to transform that problem into a corpse. At the heart of the issues of both police violence and our forever wars is a moral framework which seems perpetually to link “justice” with death.
“Neither Past nor Future.” Brian Miller draws on Sarah Orne Jewett to offer some advice to urbanites who are thinking of moving to the country in the wake of COVID-19.
“How Suffering Farmers May Determine Trump’s Fate.” Dan Kaufman talks to Wisconsin dairy farmers who are finding it ever more difficult to make ends meet. One worries the industry consolidation will continue to depopulate the countryside: “I definitely do not want to see rural Wisconsin become as empty as rural Iowa.”
“Closure of Western Lamb Processor by JBS Could ‘Devastate the Ranch Economy.’” Claire Kelloway details the questionable purchase and closure of a key lamb processing facility.
“The Effort in the Image.” Victoria Reynolds Farmer meditates on disability, the imago dei, and a Paul Cézanne painting.
“Conservatism, Out of Decadence.” Jake Meador surveys the possibilities for a conservative political vision post Trump: “the defining question facing the post-Trump GOP will be this: Is it possible to attempt (Teddy) Roosevelt-style reforms during a time of decadence? Or is the only plausible way forward to be more modest in our ambitions?”
“Are National Parks Really America’s Best Idea?” In an excerpt from his new book, David Gessner wrestles with the fraught legacy of America’s National Parks: “I believe that the park ideal, the public-land ideal, still has something great and bold in it. We need to acknowledge its historic flaws and current limitations. But if we reimagine it, we can make it newly relevant for our own times.”
“Bald Eagle Attacks State’s $950 Drone in U.P., Sends it to Bottom of Lake Michigan.” Tanda Gmiter reports on an eagle who may have been reading Wendell Berry poetry: “There’s not much left I want to shoot, / but I would like to shoot a drone.”
“Iowa’s Corn Yields Could be Cut in Half where Hurricane-force Winds Flattened Fields.” Donnelle Eller reports on the devastation that last week’s storm caused.
“Henry County and the Formation of the Kentucky Tobacco Program.” This Monday at 7pm ET, Tom Grissom will be talking about the tobacco cooperatives—you can watch his presentation live online.
“Thanks to Coronavirus and Zoom, We’re Looking at the End Stages of College as a Commodity.” Megan McArdle describes how COVID is exposing the fragility of the idiosyncratic bundle of commodities known as “college”: “U.S. higher education bundled ‘teaching and research’ with a bunch of other things — residential amenities, sports teams, networking opportunities, career coaching, dating service and so forth.”
“A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory.” Tim Keller draws on Alasdair MacIntyre in weighing some of our society’s competing notions of justice. (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“The Prayers of the Chinese Nature Painters.” Nathan Beacom examines the aesthetic of Chinese paintings: “The great works of Chinese nature painting are not just nice; they are not even just paintings. They are often poetry, philosophy, and prayer all at once. In this tradition, painting is the fruit of contemplation, and, when this is true, it is also a kind of prayer.”
“As Pandemic Hits Colleges’ Finances, Small Town May Be Affected Too.” Frank Morris visits Sterling, KS to talk about the challenges schools—and their towns—face as they attempt to resume classes this fall. I had the chance to visit Sterling last year, and it is indeed a remarkable and vibrant small town.
“How Public Sector Unions Are Complicating Our Crises.” John O. McGinnis explains how public sector unions make it difficult to resolve social challenges: “just as police unions are exacerbating our current criminal justice crisis, teachers’ unions are worsening the coronavirus crisis by making it much harder to educate the next generation while the virus continues.” (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)