“What are Families For?” The new issue of Plough is out, and it looks excellent. I am trying to avoid reading these essays, though, until my print copy arrives in the mail. Waiting won’t be easy.
“Tending to the World’s Problems, One City and Town at a Time.” Richard Doster draws on a range of thinkers, many of whom are well-known on the Porch, to commend the work of local politics: “If we seek the peace of our nation, then each of us must seek the peace of our community.”
“The Skill of Hospitality.” L.M. Sacasas draws on Ivan Illich to urge the recovery of hospitality: “An experience of community is not so much a state to be inhabited as it is a condition to be achieved, and it is achieved by constant practice. By caring for my neighbor in a time of need, I forge a communal bond.“
“2020 Exit Polls: As the Racial Gap Closes, the Democrat-Republican Education Gap Widens.” Chris Arnade considers what lessons we might draw from the recent election: ”While the racial gap is decreasing, the education gap is solidifying, and becoming multi-racial. This means the Democrats, in numbers and attitude, continued it’s evolution into the party of highly educated college graduates, while Republicans, despite having a very long way to go, shifted towards a more racially diverse coalition of non-graduates.”
“Why Matthew Yglesias Left Vox.” Conor Friedersdorf worries that the trend of conservative or heterodox writers leaving traditional media outlets and moving to Substack does not bode well for the health of our public discourse.
“Will Savage on what MLB will lose by shedding minor league teams.” Former minor leaguer Will Savage writes about the cultural costs of cutting 42 minor league baseball teams in small towns around the country:
The minor leaguer in me bristled thinking about MLB executives determining, from their offices towering over midtown Manhattan, what should happen with baseball in small-town America. As MLB began defending its proposal, its arguments only confirmed what I initially feared: Those New York City-based decision-makers are like me before my time in the minors. They don’t seem able to see distant communities and ways of life as more than cells on a spreadsheet, or dots on a map.
(Recommended by Bill Kauffman.)
“Friends and Letters.” Alexandra DeSanctis reviews Dorothy and Jack, a new book by Gina Dalfonzo about the friendship between Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis and how this friendship shaped their thinking and aesthetics.
“Ted Hughes & Seamus Heaney: Will Gompertz Reports on a Previously Hidden Treasure Trove.” Will Gompertz writes about the friendships between Barrie Cooke, Seamus Heaney, and Ted Hughes: “theirs was a triangular friendship built around a deep romantic connection with Ireland, its rivers, lakes and bogs, and angling.”
“Amateur Apostle: On Ninety-Five Years of Robert Farrar Capon.” Sean Johnson commends the rich and varied work of Capon: “Fr. Capon is known by many for his food writing but all of his work is shot through with his Chestertonian view of God as a jovial Romantic.”
“Ink-Stained Wretches: The Battle for the Soul of Digital Freedom Taking Place Inside Your Printer.” Cory Doctorow mocks the grift whereby HP and other corporations manipulate users to maximize profits: “From Apple to John Deere to GM to Tesla to Medtronic, the legal fiction that you don’t own anything is used to force you to arrange your affairs to benefit corporate shareholders at your own expense.”
“What We Lost When the Funeral Home Replaced the Home Funeral.” Christiana N. Peterson reflects on how we might mourn our beloved dead in the homes they lived in: “When death came to our homes in previous generations, it mingled where family meals were shared, stories were told, and babies were born. In the place where dead bodies were laid out, life had been lived.”
“If You Value the Elderly, You Should be Alarmed by Biden’s Covid Task Force Appointment.” Jennifer A. Frey draws on Alasdair MacIntyre definition of humans as dependent creatures to argue that Ezekiel Emanuel’s view of elderly people—who might be less independent—is profoundly inhumane.
“The Class Folly of Canceling Student Loans.” Damon Linker warns that canceling student debt is a bad idea and will “be seen by many as an unusually vivid example of how American elites (and those on a fast track to joining them) have captured the machinery of government to benefit themselves.”
“Driving Without Destination: A Distributist Journey.” Dermot Quinn and Jason Peters discuss Chesterton, distributism, and our proper telos.
“Future Sense.” Chris Beha ruminates on our confused relationship to time, the future, and the news: “If something as straightforward as a scheduled election feels so unpredictable, perhaps the sheer volatility of this year will finally lay bare the contradictions of our relationship with tomorrow. Then we might stop treating an unknowable future as our only hope at making sense of our present predicament.”
“In Defense of Jacques Maritain Against His Neo-Integralist Critics.” James Matthew Wilson puts Maritain’s writing in the context of the political and theological debates he engaged, and in the process Wilson clarifies Maritain’s legacy and relevance to the debates of our day.
“The Hidden Costs of How We Eat.” Leah Libresco Sargeant interviews Gracy Olmstead about Michael Pollan, how we approach getting and preparing our food, and whether the pandemic will change our food economies.
“Lawsuit: Tyson Managers Bet Money on How Many Workers Would Contract COVID–19.” As this disturbing report by Clark Kauffman makes clear, we should all hope that the dysfunction laid bare by the pandemic will lead to fundamental changes in our food system.