“Eric Gill and the Integrity of Work.” In a new preface to an edition of Gill’s writings, Wendell Berry identifies the endemic flaw of industrialized technology: “Under the rule of specialization, people trained to do one thing or one kind of thing produce a technological solution to one problem: to win one war, to speed one kind of thought, to protect one crop from one kind of pest. The aim is to produce a partial result, which forbids any thought or any fear of what might be the whole result.”
“Farm Protests in India Are Writing the Green Revolution’s Obituary.” Aniket Aga explains why Indian farmers are protesting new farm laws and argues these frustrations have been building for decades: “to actually secure a viable future for farmers, we must abandon the Green Revolution paradigm and adopt agroecological, diverse, decentralized and just agrarian and food systems.”
“Are Some Animal Welfare Labels ‘Humanewashing’?” Lisa Held examines the myriad of labels on meat sold in grocery stores and reports on whether they actually mean that animals are being raised in humane conditions.
“Technology Made the Pandemic Bearable. It’s Also behind our National Crackup.” Ian Marcus Corbin warns that we will have to set aside the technologies which have become our crutches during coronatide in order to take up the practices of friendship: “To be sure, Zoom, smartphones and social media have allowed many to remain healthy, sane, employed and somewhat connected during the covid–19 pandemic. But these nine months of tech dependency have also accelerated a less-welcome process long underway: the atrophy of our friend-making muscles. That has deeper implications than you might think.”
“What It’s Like to Carry On a Tradition With a Friend Who Can’t Remember It.” Julie Beck talks with two friends—Andy Gullahorn and Gabe Scott—who each week walk out of their respective front doors, meet between their homes, and give each other a high five. This tradition took on new meaning this past year when Gabe had a brain infection that damaged his memory.
“A Final Interview With Hank Aaron: ‘I Recognized That I Had a Gift.’” Much has been written about Hammerin’ Hank in recent days, and this reflection by Douglas Brinkley, drawn from a November 2020 interview with him, is one of many worthy tributes.
“The Media Has to Do Better Than This.” Damon Linker has some good advice for journalists covering the new president:
Spin is ubiquitous in modern politics. There is nothing new or shocking about it. Yet it is both noteworthy and troubling just how quickly CNN flipped from treating the previous president like a hostile occupying power to uncritically publicizing the brand-new administration’s efforts to cut itself maximal slack. If the media has any hope at all of improving on its image and reversing the collapsing trust of readers and viewers, it will have to do better than this.
“Conservatism’s Contested Tradition.” Gerald J. Russello reviews Edmund Fawcett’s Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition and finds it a fair-minded—if somewhat flawed—survey of the long conservative tradition.
“The Technological Society Can’t Save Itself.” L.M. Sacasas draws on Jacques Ellul to offer a salutary warning: “The challenge Jacques Ellul poses to a Christian humanist vision is at once simple and demanding: to articulate an account of human flourishing that does not amount to a calibration of the human for the sake of technological milieu.”
“GameStop: Intentionally Dying.” If you want to make sense of the GameStop market gyrations, read Chris Arnade: “The lesson taken away by those losers, and everyone else not on Wall Street, is more important, insightful, and dangerous though. It will be that there isn’t a meritocracy, or at least a justified one. It will be that everyone is just playing games. Those at the top get to dress up their game, even though it is destructive to everyone else, as legitimate, call playing it a career, and get rewarded mightily for it. Others, like them, have to make it a hobby, and even though it is just harmless fun, get scolded for it. This will harden a cynicism that already exists in large parts of America.” Arnade also gave an insightful interview about this in the Intelligencer.
“America’s Rural Crisis Triggers Calls for Biden to Name Rural Czar.” Liz Crampton reports on calls for Biden to boost rural economies and communities by appointing “a Rural Envoy” to oversee aid efforts.
“The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship.” Amanda Mull reflects on the ways our recent isolation highlights the value of casual acquaintances: “Peripheral connections tether us to the world at large; without them, people sink into the compounding sameness of closed networks.”
“American Heretic, American Burke.” Allen C. Guelzo takes the occasion of Robert Elder’s new book Calhoun: American Heritic to consider the fraught questions around Calhoun’s life and legacy. He also ponders how we should remember and write about deeply-flawed historical figures.
“James Herriot and the Desire for Home.” Jonathon Van Maren considers the renewed interest in the James Herriot stories and praises the writer’s commitment to his place. (Recommended by Aaron Weinacht.)
“‘Bourbon, Bluegrass, & the Bible’: The Hillbilly Thomists Hit Nashville.” Andrew Petiprin reviews the latest album from the Hillbilly Thomists, a talented group of musical Dominicans.
“Body and Soul, in Life and in Death.” In this haunting and personal essay, Heather Ferngren Morton testifies to the intimacy of death, and she draws wisdom from its nearness.
“‘It’s a Very Tough Job’: In Rural Wisconsin, a Struggle to Save Family Farms and a Way of Life.” Philip Bennett talks with 18 residents of Clark County, WI about the challenges that dairy farmers and their communities face right now.