“Magic in the Dirt.” Julia Turshen visits three small farms to talk with the farmers about their philosophy and the bounty of this strange year. Brian Dawson’s videos and photos compose an immersive account of these three harvests.
“Everyone Loses the Culture Wars.” Elizabeth Corey continues her nuanced defense of civility and its concomitant human goods:
Our own identities should not be constituted by, or essentially focused on, political warfare. It’s true that war may come to us whether we want it or not. But if we allow ourselves to be consumed in battles, thinking of ourselves primarily as fighters, we are really missing out on a flourishing life. In all the practices I mentioned above we need civility and, as Ludwig rightly calls it, “civic friendship.” My friend Jeff Polet says it best: “The basic contours of human life, what Kirk called ‘the permanent things,’ remain, and they are defended more in the living than in the arguing.”
“Why We Need Gentleness.” Gracy Olmstead commends the virtue of gentleness in this polarized time.
“Convivial Christianity: A Response to Critics and Concerned Friends.” Mark Clavier responds to some recent criticisms by defending a posture rooted in conviviality, which he defines “as ordering our lives so as to live well with God, creation, and each other. This requires virtues central to the Christian idea of mutual belonging such as humility, self-sacrifice, compassion, and magnanimity. Notice their absence in much of our public discourse today.”
“From Politically Homeless to Political Homemakers.” Rachel Anderson urges us to reject the idea that politics is a kind of consumer identity and instead take up the work of political homemaking: “This is simpler than it sounds: we need to do good work together; we need to pursue the common good with particular people in a particular place.”
“The Squad Meets Wendell Berry: A Localist Defense of the AOC/Tlaib Public Banking Act.” Andrew Figueiredo argues that localists on the left and the right should find common ground in supporting the Public Banking Act.
“Social Media Is Hate Speech: A Platonic Reflection on Contemporary Misology.” D. C. Schindler warns that when words are abstracted from particular rhetorical contexts, they are both taken too seriously and not taken seriously enough: “The deepest abuse of language is the general contempt for logos that is being institutionalized in the social media culture that surrounds us, not just in its content, but already in its form.” (Recommended by Jason Peters.)
“The United Hates of America.” Carlos Lozada reviews several recent books on polarization and considers their conflicting prescriptions for moving forward in the wake of a contentious election.
“What The Lord of the Rings Can Teach Us about U.S. Politics, Christianity and Power.” Jessica Hooten Wilson turns to Tolkien for a reminder about the limits of political power: “We do not need the seat of power to protect the Shire. We need to practice loving the Shire.”
“The Left Just Got Crushed.” There are, of course, way too many election postmortems. Damon Linker has a pretty good one, though:
And therein lies a paradox that should be obvious but apparently isn’t: Democrats live in a country with a large, passionate opposition. Arrogant talk of demographic inevitabilities and transformative changes to lock Republicans out of power in the name of “democracy” has the effect of inspiring that opposition to unite against them, rendering political success less assured and more tenuous.
“A Multi-Ethnic, Working-Class Conservatism.” Oren Cass argues that this election really came down to the economy: “it is easy to see a realignment of working-class voters, regardless of race, toward the party that expresses an interest in their economic concerns.”
“Beha’s Capacity for God: Sophie Wilder Revisited.” Joshua Hren traces the dynamics of grace and freedom in Christopher Beha’s first novel.
“Toward a Small Farm Future.” In this excerpt from his new book, Chris Smaje defends small farms from their critics on both the left and the right: “If we’re to bequeath a habitable and abundant planet to our descendants, a key part of that reappraisal involves rethinking the relevance of small farm or ‘peasant’ societies that are often dismissed for their ‘backwardness’ or buried under an unusable legacy of romanticism and nostalgia.”
“Go Deep, Not Broad.” Gary Furnell reviews Rolf Dobelli’s Stop Reading the News: A Manifesto for a Happier, Calmer and Wiser Life. Such reminders are particularly important during weeks when the news cycle claims countless hours of attention and energy.
“Poetry and the News.” We might imagine that poetry is diametrically opposed to the news, but James Matthew Wilson reflects on many exemplars to argue that good poetry can put the particulars of life in a meaningful and more universal context; poems can show how even life’s ephemera have cosmic significance.
“Structurally Induced Acedia.” L.M. Sacasas reflects on what happens when information is no longer bound to a particular place:
Before the advent of electronic media, the limits associated with being a body in place made it more likely that the knowledge we encountered was also knowledge that we could live up to, in the sense that Auden is commending here. In a digital media environment, it is not simply the case that we might be tempted to deliberately, in some Faustian sense, search out knowledge we cannot live up to, we are, in fact, overwhelmed by such knowledge. The idea of knowledge I can live up to implies a capacity to discern a meaningful correlation among the knowledge in question, my situation, my abilities, and my responsibilities, but this is capacity is precisely what is overwhelmed in our media ecosystem. Hence the ensuing state acedia.
”Hurricane Laura, Eight Weeks Later.” Brian Miller visited Lake Charles in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, and he felt like he was being ”struck by a continuous gut punch.”
“The Realities of Political Life.” Nate Hochman interviews Tim Fuller about his friend Michael Oakeshott and how his political thought might inform contemporary conversations about science, expertise, and more.