“All Mod Cons.” Bill Kauffman commends the legacy of Senator Mark Hatfield: “A radical dispersal of power may lack the bellicose appeal of strident nationalism, but those who support fortifying the nation-state at the expense of its towns and cities and neighborhoods should remember that he who picks up the sword hands it to his enemies.”
“Digging in this Dirt.” In an honest, searching, personal essay, Josh Mabie explores his mixed emotions about farming, a pursuit he finds both burdensome and delightful.
“Should Princeton Exist?” Emma Green asks some tough questions of Christopher Eisgruber, the president of Princeton. I’m glad that I will never be on the receiving end of Green’s battery of inquiries!
“Republic of Letters, Republic of Books.” Eric Miller defends the importance of words to the American project: “To give up on reading is to give up on America. We could use some champions of what we should not blush to call the higher learning—along with institutions devoted to cultivating a republic of letters once more.”
“Xenia and Intellectual Hospitality.” Sarah Soltis, FPR’s editorial intern, reflects on the virtue of hospitality as championed by Cherie Harder.
“Ciceronian Society CFP.” The Ciceronian Society is hosting a conference this March at Grove City College. They’ve now posted their CFP. If you make it out for the conference, come say hello!
“Monomania Is Illiberal and Stupefying.” Jonathan Haidt describes and critiques the monomania that characterizes many institutions today. In many ways, his descriptions of monomania parallel what I described last week as insanity.
“The Men Who Are Killing America’s Newspapers.” In a long, well-reported essay for the Atlantic, McKay Coppins argues that the decline of local news isn’t just due to technological shifts but is also caused by vulture capitalists seeking to use newspapers as short-term investments.
“‘There are Better Riches Than Commerce’ and Other Lessons from Nick Offerman.” Ezra Klein talks with Nick Offerman about his new book, Wendell Berry, and our relationship with nature.
“A Recipe for Fighting Climate Change and Feeding the World.” Sarah Kaplan has an in-depth essay describing the history, aims, and taste of Kernza, the Land Institute’s perennial grain. It’s accompanied by an abundance of photographs.
“Journalist-Turned-Cattle Farmer Beth Hoffman on the Impossible Math of Starting a Farm.” Twilight Greenaway interviews Beth Hoffman about what she’s learned by moving from California to Iowa and starting a farm. Hoffman’s new book probes the challenging economics of farming, and she details some of these issues in this interview.
“Should I Still Read Jonathan Edwards?” Richard Bailey applies Jonathan Edwards’s own understanding of history to develop a nuanced appraisal of Edwards’s life and writings: “in 1739 he preached a series of 30 sermons focused on history, pointing out time and again how the God he worshiped used imperfect men and women of faith to accomplish a work beyond themselves. In his estimation, those people were not the heroes of the story. Instead, Edwards argued the only hero was the God who redeemed people.” Bailey’s essay also relies on the historical thinking of James Baldwin and Wendell Berry.
“The DIY Family.” Aaron M. Renn sees a trend away from outsourcing our household chores to other people: “More families are now starting to do things for themselves that they were formerly paying other people to do. Think of it as a move back to the Do-It-Yourself household.”
“Review: Desperate: An Epic Battle for Clean Water and Justice in Appalachia.” John W. Miller reviews Kris Maher’s new book about coal mining, labor disputes, and pollution. He concludes: “what people in West Virginia crave is what people everywhere need: jobs that don’t stink.”
“Broken Bodies Break Liberalism.” Henry George writes movingly about disability and individualism and limits: “Liberalism’s expansion of rights has been a boon for those less fortunate, myself among them. Yet the dissolution of the ties that bind can be disorientating, going against who we are at the deepest level of our nature. Acknowledging our interdependence and the reality of our finitude would go a long way to rectifying this. Being disabled doesn’t make one less selfish, but it has enabled me to see where our society has drifted.”
“The Tyranny of ‘Narrative.’” Jeff Polet responds to Bill McClay’s essay on America’s story by arguing that our competing narratives have drowned out the possibility of a unifying story: “We have no shared stories because we have no shared culture. Surely part of the problem is not simply the perfidy of our leadership class, but also its illiteracy.”
“Community Can Rescue Us from the Brink.” Shane Morris reflects on the ways in which autonomy can lead to desperate loneliness: “Sometimes we need a hand there to curtail our freedoms, to override our self-will, and to tell us life is still worth living when our imaginations fail. And without the intervention and care of others, our imaginations will inevitably fail.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)