“Can Our Campuses Be Reasonable?” Zena Hitz praises Jonathan Marks’s Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education, but she calls for a higher ideal than mere reasonableness: “The real engine of human development is aspiration. We need positive ideals that stir the soul. Otherwise, the inevitable costs built into the discipline of reasonableness can be overwhelming.”
“How Tech Reform Diminishes Us.” I review Chris Bail’s new book Breaking the Social Media Prism and argue that we all need to stop thinking like social scientists: “What ground the lens of the social media prism was the treatment of particular, complex human persons as the sum of their political opinions, consumer choices, and identity markers like religion, race, gender, sexual preference, and ZIP code. It seems dubious that like will cure like in this case.” Unsurprisingly, I conclude with some words of wisdom from the Mad Farmer.
“The Last Conservative Critic?” Provoked by the recent death of Terry Teachout, Micah Mattix considers what qualities and training make for artistic critics with good taste.
“America’s Hyperbole Habit is the Worst Thing Ever.” Fear sells, but Damon Linker reminds us that “it’s not especially good for the country’s civic health (or the psychological wellbeing of individual Americans) to have alarm bells blaring at full volume all the time from every conceivable direction.”
“Sacrifice Is Not a Therapy.” Leah Libresco Sargeant untangles some of the reasons behind the continued disproportionate responses to COVID: “instead of tailoring their responses, many organizations, especially schools, have reacted as though there were only one response dial, labeled ‘I am taking this seriously,’ and turned it to 11.”
“Monks in New Mexico Desert Dedicated to Hospitality Reflect on Two Years without Guests.” Chris Moody talks with Benedictine monks who have been unable to practice hospitality during COVID: “Guests are an integral part of Benedictine monastic life and have been for 1,500 years. ‘Monasteries,’ Saint Benedict wrote, ‘are never without them.’”
“The Culture War is a Class War in Disguise.” Batya Ungar-Sargon looks at the economic issues at stake in various culture war issues: “It’s not the working class that has abandoned its economic interests to wage a culture war. It’s progressives who have abandoned the economic interests of the working class to fight a culture war pushing their own values.”
“Florida’s Waters Choke on Fertilizer, Dead Fish and Red Tides—While Big Ag Floats above it All.” Lizette Alvarez describes the ongoing water pollution in Florida. The prospects for reversing the toxins seem slim.
“Couzain!” Brian Miller’s eulogy for his cousin provides many good reminders of what a well-lived life looks like.
“Mozilla Stops Accepting Cryptocurrency, Wikipedia May be Next: Are Dominos Falling?” Brandon Vigliarolo reports on Jamie Zawinski, the co-founder of Mozilla, and his critiques of cryptocurrency: “As of this writing, a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain eats up the same amount of energy as the average US household in a 77.8-day, or roughly two and a half month, period. Ethereum, though nowhere near as large, still eats up the same amount of energy that a US household does in eight days.”
“King First and God After.” Peter Hitchens ruminates on British royalty and the ways in which political posturing has eroded traditional deference for the monarch.
“Freedom Without Limits.” Lee Trepanier contributes to an ongoing symposium at Law and Liberty on Dostovesky’s Demons. The whole symposium is valuable, and Lee’s essay in particular touches on themes at the core of FPR’s conversation: “Dostoevsky believed that one cannot live as a full human being without individual freedom: a freedom that acknowledges limits in its striving towards a chosen ideal—and the willingness to suffer for it. In his works, Dostoevsky portrayed this type of freedom rooted in transcendence in contrast to the nihilist’s account that rejected God.”
“Walking America: Washington, DC (Anacostia and Alexandria).” Chris Arnade walks through two different parts of Washington DC. He notes that the more wealthy, career-oriented government officials don’t often engage with the more working class, black, and religious neighborhoods, but it might be good “to actually walk in these communities, all parts of them, just hang, or heaven forbid, move to them and let the neighborhood change you, rather than you trying to change the neighborhood. That is, you know dangerous. I mean, someone might try to convert you to the lord.”
“Images of the Invisible God.” What are the proper limits on our representations of the divine? Jeff Reimer narrates the long history of this question in the Christian church and considers its wisdom in light of our contemporary immersion in images.
“The Herbicide Dicamba was Supposed to Solve Farmers’ Weed Problems—Instead, it’s Making Farming Harder for Many of Them.” Bart Elmore demonstrates the way that Monsanto’s seeds are losing the battle against evolving weeds. When Roundup Ready seeds were introduced in the mid 90s, herbicide use went down, but “today, U.S. farmers use more than twice as much herbicide to grow soybeans as they did before Roundup Ready crops were introduced.”