Doug Sikkema fills in for Jeffrey Bilbro on this week’s Water Dipper.

One of my favorite publications is The New Atlantis. What Ari Schulman and his team curate there in a year is worth, Dear Reader, your time, attention, and money. Two pieces caught my fancy, and I hope catch yours. The first is this one from the Winter 2006 distillery. Christine Rosen writes a masterclass on the technological revolution that has reshaped the modern kitchen. Speaking of technology, as he often does, Alan Jacobs has another barn-burner in TNA this month: “From Tech Critique to Ways of Living.” Jacobs travels East (philosophically and religiously) to see what insights the West might glean for some answer to the “now what?” that faces us in our technopolistic societies.

In Plough, Brewer Eberly writes: “We are probably the first generation in human history that doesn’t really know the communities from which we come. I can’t name any of my eight pairs of great-grandparents.” Good challenge. I can’t either. Can you? Time to recover some oral history as a way to recover our places.

I’ve started listening to poems instead of just reading them. A lot of online publications have audible options. It’s a delight. I’d recommend it as a practice if you love language. And this poem by Nicolas Visconti in Image is simply delicious for the ears and maybe a place for you to start.

Here’s a belated invitation to a party that happened a while ago. Krista Tippet with Robert Macfarlane in On Being. Forget what I said in the last piece, if you’ve NOT read anything by Macfarlane, go and do so immediately. Listening to him here is an appetizer to the entrée of his stunning body of work on language, history, and place.

We forget that hope, as a virtue, is not optional. At least if you take religion seriously. On that note, the state of religion—Christianity in particular—in the West has caused many to despair. Tish Harrison Warren, writer and Anglican Priest, issues a clarion call to recover hope. “Decline narratives be damned,” she concludes. And I’d say: Amen.

Forming virtues like hope is difficult. Where does it happen? Church? Family? School? What about University? Liberal Arts Colleges are particularly good at lofty language and mission statements, but do they actually make young men and women “better” when it comes to character? I am always fascinated by these questions and if you are too, then you might want to keep tabs on this project coming out of Baylor University.

Since Jeff has given me the keys to the car for a few weeks, I’d be remiss not to take a few privileges and pump his tires for him. Read this thoughtful review of Jeff’s latest book by Andrew Spencer. Then, of course, go and read Jeff’s book!

This Plough piece struck a chord, but maybe not in the way you’d think. Is Academia demanding on family life? Sure. Andrew Skabelund is not really “on to something new” here. This is a well-and-often-told story. But if the gods of academia and that elusive goddess “tenure” are demanding your children, then perhaps the simplest thing is to walk the other way. However… some of the most accomplished academics I know (and aspire to) had wonderful (and large) families, and rather impressive CVs. Any of these articles that fail to simply acknowledge that there are some very high functioning, disciplined individuals who manage things better than others start to grate.

Speaking of hard working, Renaissance individuals… Conor Sweetman, editor of Ekstasis, has consistently kept his hand to the plow in curating one of the most delightful and aesthetically stunning little mags around. I’m encouraged that his work is now hosted by Christianity Today, which I hope gives his outfit the much needed stability to continue its fine work for many years! May your tribe increase. (Take a look at this stunner to get a sense of what I’m talking about.)

Finally, my former colleague and long time friend Brian Dijkema has a fascinating piece in Comment magazine that has recently been featured online. It’s an article in praise of … Virtue Signaling. Ok. I call this the classic “Clickbait and Switch.” And it caught me. Hook. Line. Sinker. I hope it catches you too, because the insights by the end are worth taking in.

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Doug Sikkema
Doug Sikkema grew up in Southern, Ontario amidst vineyards and peach orchards. He earned a B.A in English from Redeemer University, an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Ottawa, and a PhD in contemporary American literature from the University of Waterloo. His current research explores the relationship of religion, literature, and the environment. Doug is an assistant Professor of English and Core Humanities at Redeemer University College and an aspiring gentleman farmer. Doug is also the Board Chair of Oak Hill Academy, a Classical school he helped start with his wife Vanessa and a group of parents. Three of their four children attend the school. Zero of their two dogs do.