“Finding the Mother Tree: An Interview with Suzanne Simard.” In this interview with Emergence Magazine, Simard talks about her work on fungal networks and forest cooperation, and she also describes her ongoing research into partial cutting techniques that hold the promise of more sustainable forestry management.
“Biden’s First 100 Days Would Make Trump Jealous.” Matthew Walther points out that Biden’s policy choices don’t look that different from what Trump aspired to do: “It might well be that the essence of Mr. Biden’s presidency will be finding wholesome-sounding reasons for doing all the things — some wicked, others sensible, a handful plainly laudable — that his predecessor had attempted out of malice or indifference.”
“Our Post-Pandemic Institutions: A Conversation with Yuval Levin.” Daniel Burns interviews Levin about institutions, social media, and why Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community is the book for our time. Levin reminds us that ”communication is overrated, and communion is underrated.”
“Granola.” Gracy Olmstead invited me to contribute to her newsletter this month, and I wrote about making things as “a salutary response to our media ecosystem that all too easily conditions us to be merely passive spectators. “
“Building Community From the Ground Up.” Leah Libresco Sargeant describes how several institutions in Milwaukee have been working to forge “an intergenerational housing project that will see seniors, single mothers, and religious sisters mingling as one community.”
“(Un)critical Thinking on the Humanities.” Eric Adler warns that instrumental defenses of humanist study are doomed to fail: “Many of the other disciplines in contemporary education concern themselves with improving the material conditions of life; the humanist’s job is the crucial balancing work of humanism.”
“Biden’s Daycare Plan Is Bad for Families.” J.D. Vance and Jenet Erickson weigh in on the child care debate: “A family policy that empowers parents with greater choice may reduce national GDP. It might mean lower profits for some of our biggest corporations. But it would also mean happier parents and healthier children—which seems a trade-off worth making.”
“History, Evangelicals, and Race: A Review of Tisby’s The Color of Compromise.” Timothy Cutler identifies commonalities between discussions of the “gospel” on opposite sides of the political spectrum: “If there were such a thing as ‘the American Church,’ the only thing that could be said about it today is that it is under-catechized and overly saturated in politics. Another book encouraging Christians to measure their faith by their level of political activism would be the last thing it needs.” (Recommended by Matt Stewart.)
“The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown.” In a typically astute essay, Emma Green probes why some people who claim to “follow the science” are reluctant to let go of pandemic restrictions.
“Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics.” Jan Hoffman reports on a different community, in Greenville, TN, where opinions on the vaccine are varied: “People say that politics isn’t the leading driver of their vaccine attitudes. The most common reason for their apprehension is fear—that the vaccine was developed in haste, that long-term side effects are unknown. Their decisions are also entangled in a web of views about bodily autonomy, science and authority, plus a powerful regional, somewhat romanticized self-image: We don’t like outsiders messing in our business.”
“The Origin of COVID: Did People or Nature Open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?” Nicholas Wade lays out the evidence regarding where COVID–19 originated. I’m not qualified to weigh in on the science here, but Wade’s piece is a detailed analysis of what we know and what we don’t know and how political and professional dynamics are preventing an open investigation.
“The Year of Madeleine.” Haley Stewart concludes a lovely meditation on the life and example of Madeleine L’Engle with a hope-giving question: “Instead of seeing family life and motherhood as an impediment to creative work, what if we viewed each calling as worthy of support and a path to living out our Christian purpose to bear something beautiful into the world?”
“5 Questions With Family Studies: Abigail Tucker on the Making of a Mom.” Emma Posey interviews Tucker about her new book, Mom Genes, and how motherhood affects women’s bodies in profound, surprising ways.
“A Serious Man.” Jack Hanson reassesses the thought of Charles Péguy. In particular, his warnings about “the ravages of politics” seem prescient: “human beings have an inborn awareness of the depths of reality and a capacity to live and work to mutual benefit, but this potential is suppressed by the power-hungry, the thoughtlessly violent, and perhaps most importantly, the complacently banal.”
“New Title, Same Boss.” Mary Kate Skehan has a lovely tribute to her grandfather, and her story even includes an account of his brief interaction with Mother Teresa.
“Be Not Afraid.” Joseph M. Keegin’s description of his relationship with his father leads into a wise analysis of why outrage media captivates so many today and what we might do to free those we love who have succumbed to this addition: “My father’s drug of choice was Fox News. Others’ parents may have spent the last four years shooting up on MSNBC, the conviction that a fascist coup was in process paired with an implicit belief that only their attention and fear could act as katechons to this great fall. Trump was deranged. But Trump derangement syndrome was real.”
“Regenerative Agriculture Needs a Reckoning.” What is regenerative agriculture? Who gets to define it? Why does it matter? In a long essay, Joe Fassler works his way through these questions.