Tomorrow marks the beginning of Advent, which is also the start of the Christian year. I’m taking the month off from compiling these Water Dippers as I’ll be spending more time offline reading old stuff. Look for these to resume after Christmas.
“Why I Am Fleeing to the Hills.” Aris Roussinos imagines what a prudent response—both personally and politically—to predictions of climate change might look like: “If we claim that disasters are on the horizon, yet do not build up the infrastructure now to cope with them, why should anyone take these claims seriously?”
“The Vaccine Moment.” Paul Kingsnorth reflects on what the spread of vaccine mandates and related forms of technocratic control reveal about our Machine age: “Most of all, though, what the covid apocalypse has revealed to me is that when people are frightened, they can be easily controlled.”
“Pius Giraldus.” Scott D. Moringiello remembers the life and piety of Gerald Russello: “His legal practice was important, but it was not the most important part of his life. He understood that, while laws could help bring order to people’s lives, the goal of life wasn’t order. The goal of life was love.”
“Where the Humanities Aren’t in Crisis.” Scott Samuelson describes his experience as a tutor in the Catherine Project: “Indeed, what proves great books great is that they’ve stood the test of time with countless readers of various backgrounds and persuasions. We choose great books not to keep anyone out but to let everyone in.”
“The Dangerous Experiment on Teen Girls.” Jonathan Haidt warns that the data suggest Instagram in particular causes significant harm to teenage girls: “The toxicity comes from the very nature of a platform that girls use to post photographs of themselves and await the public judgments of others.”
“Pope Francis Is Right About My Profession.” Responding to recent remarks by the Pope, Conor Friedersdorf has a wise reflection on the value of face-to-face conversations: “in-person conversation is underrated, I think, for journalists who do opinion and analysis. It is standard practice to invest in travel to gather facts, but unusual to send anyone out into the world to avert bad takes. Why? Like most internet users, those of us who write, say, political and cultural analysis can easily forget how much social-media platforms distort our reality.”
“Dems are Probably Toast in 22.” Chris Arnade continues to spend a lot of time strolling through various cities. His observations about political sentiment are grounded in many face-to-face conversations.
“Farming Flowers to the Glory of God.” Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra talks with Jonathan Herb about his work as a farmer and his efforts to employ refugees on his farm.
“The Great Resignation Is Accelerating.” Derek Thompson describes the Great Resignation as a centrifugal moment: “we may . . . look back to the pandemic as a crucial inflection point in something more fundamental: Americans’ attitudes toward work. Since early last year, many workers have had to reconsider the boundaries between boss and worker, family time and work time, home and office.”
“The Supply Chain Crisis Could Save Christmas.” Tsh Oxenreider encourages readers to look local when they shop for—or make—Christmas gifts this year.
“Robert Bly, Towering American Poet, Dies at 94.” Emily Langer recalls the life and work of this rooted and principled poet. When I was in college, one of my professors loaned me a cassette tape of Bly giving a class on poetic sound and rhythm, and I still hear the lines he chose as illustrations from Whitman or Eliot or others in his nasally but utterly enchanted voice.
“‘The Parish System is a Kind of Spiritual NHS’: Anglican Priest Alison Milbank on Saving our Churches.” Freddie Hayward describes Alison Milbank’s advocacy for England’s parish churches, “which she sees as a communitarian bulwark against the fragmentation of society. ‘We need things that can stand out against globalisation, against atomisation, that stand for the idea of the common good, the community. And churches at their best do that.’”