“The Turning Point.” Carlo Lancellotti draws on the work of Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce to supplement recent sociological descriptions of our individualistic society: “Del Noce argued that in a radically scientistic-positivistic culture like the one that became dominant in the West around 1960 all forms of ‘belonging’ grow weaker because of the scarcity of ideal common ground.”
“The Great Unsettling.” Paul Kingsnorth draws on Simone Weil to argue that deracination is at the heart of our contemporary societal problems: “However we dissect it, I believe that the heart of our global crisis – cultural, ecological and spiritual – is this ongoing process of mass uprooting.”
“Christians Should Be in the News Cycle, but Not of It.” I promise I won’t link to all the reviews of my new book, but this one by Daniel Ritchie in Christianity Today is quite thorough and thoughtful, and he offers some sensible critiques as well.
“Reading the Times with Jeffrey Bilbro (+ Book Giveaway!)” If you are in fact interested in this subject, you should join Gracy Olmstead and me for this conversation about the book in a couple of weeks. You could even get a free copy.
“A New Guild System.” Alan Jacobs looks at the state of our media and knowledge institutions and sees signs of hope in the decentralizing effects of their breakdown: “That view is to see the rise of Substack and podcasting and Bandcamp for musicians who want to escape the tyranny of the record labels and streaming platforms—supported and enabled by other services like Stripe and Patreon and Kickstarter—as a kind of Distributism for artists and knowledge workers.”
“Fertility Kings and Mom Genes.” In a new essay on his Substack, Ross Douthat responds to Rebecca Skabelund’s recent FPR essay and suggests his wife’s new book Mom Genes provides an example of the kind of contribution Skabelund calls for: “Overall the failure of modern fertility, Skabelund argues, is a failure of rootedness, a failure to take nature and biology and the soil of existence seriously, a failure to organize society so that women can become mothers naturally, from conception to birth and beyond, without feeling like ‘an immobilized object in a baby-extracting factory.’”
“I’ve Had the Same Supper for 10 Years.” Wilf Davies describes his life as a Welsh shepherd: “People might think I’m not experiencing new things, but I think the secret to a good life is to enjoy your work.” (Recommended by Alan Jacobs.)
“The Hog Barons.” Don’t read this story by Charlie Mitchell and Austin Frerick unless you have a strong stomach: “Since Iowa Select was founded in 1992, the state’s pig population has increased more than 50 percent — while the number of farms raising hogs has declined over 80 percent. In the last 30 years, 26,000 Iowa farms quit the long-standing tradition of raising pigs. As confinements replaced them, rural communities have continued to hollow out.”
“Sunset Camp, Sundown Town: An Interview with J. Drew Lanham.” John Lane interviews Lanham, a wildlife biologist, a professor at Clemson, and “a Black man who has forged a formidable intellectual and literary identity online and in books by parsing the interesting idea of ‘range maps.’”
“Howard University’s Removal of Classics is a Spiritual Catastrophe.” Cornel West and Jeremy Tate articulate what is lost as education is replaced by “schooling” and students are increasingly not offered the opportunity to think within a long and rich tradition. A student group at Howard is circulating a petition to save the department.
“Boomers and Stickers in Devil Town.” Peter Blair offers a Wendell Berryian reading of Friday Night Lights and praises the show for “its close attention to how different characters resolve tensions between ambition, relationships, and loyalty to community.”
“Clarence Thomas Is Right about Big Tech.” Ryan T. Anderson and Adam J. MacLeod explore the legal and political implications of Thomas’s recent concurring decision that suggested some technology companies should be classified as ”common carriers.”
“America’s Amazon Problems.” Ross Douthat considers the merits of Josh Hawley’s Bust Up Big Tech Act and the chances that Congress will actually pass meaningful legislation dealing with the problems Amazon and other tech companies have exploited.
“Does Anyone Read the Law?” Jeff Polet makes an audacious suggestion—read a law before you develop a strong opinion about it: “Only in politics, it seems, are we not only allowed but encouraged to have opinions concerning things of which we have no direct knowledge.”
“Catholic Priest Finds a New Way to Serve his Community.” Nathan Beacom profiles a cowboy-priest who works to feed the souls and bodies of the members of his community.
“There’s No Place Like Home.” Gracy Olmstead reviews Harrison Lemke’s new album Forever Only Idaho and praises its commitment to representing a place and culture through music.
“The Painful Path to Unity.” John Wood, Jr. Reminds us that “the path to unity—at least a unity worth having—is a painful one,” and he challenges us to attend to the marginalized among us regardless of whether doing so is fashionable.
“Taking a Stand.” Jeff Polet praises those who are willing to speak up when social pressures make remaining silent much easier. I’m reminded of Milton’s praise of Abdiel in Paradise Lost: “Sometimes all that is needed is one person to take a stand, one person who is willing to take the abuse and insults, one person who is not afraid to risk things that matter to him. Such risk-taking inspires others.”