The Migration of the Holy.” Paul Kingsnorth weighs England’s purported secular culture and finds it wanting. As he argues, “everything is religious,” and when we turn from a transcendent God, we manufacture various idols to replace this loss.

No, America is Not on the Brink of a Civil War.” Musa al-Gharbi provides an excellent case study in why polls should be taken with several grains of salt, why fact-checking won’t fix the disputes in our public square, and why so much of the overheated talk about a civil war remains just that—talk:

there is a huge difference in talking about identifying and disrupting small numbers of highly-committed individuals willing to engage in revolutionary political violence versus tens-of-millions of Americans genuinely believing the election was fraudulent and being open to violence as a means of rectifying the situation. Those are very different problems. Orders of magnitude different.

The good news is that the second problem, the tens-of-millions-of-Americans problem, is not real. It is an artifact of politicized polling design and survey responses, followed by overly-credulous interpretations of those results by academics and pundits who are committed to a narrative that half the electorate is evil, ignorant, stupid, deranged, and otherwise dangerous.

Americans Moving Less than Ever Before.” Reid Wilson reports on the continued decline in Americans’ mobility: “8.4 percent of Americans live in a different house than they lived in a year ago. That is the lowest rate of movement that the bureau has recorded at any time since 1948.”

Who Believes in Democracy?” Ross Douthat argues that there are anti-democratic tendencies among both the Trumpist right and the expert-class progressive left: “just as a conservative alternative to Trump would need to somehow out-populist him, to overcome the dark side of right-wing populism, American liberalism would need to first democratize itself.”

The Noble and Needful Philosophical Tradition of Bothsidesism (no, really).” Damon Linker concurs with Douthat’s argument and argues we need more of this kind of dispassionate political and cultural assessment.

Democrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won With It in 2020.” Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher have a lengthy report in the New York Times on the growing role of dark money in politics: “The findings reveal the growth and ascendancy of a shadow political infrastructure that is reshaping American politics, as megadonors to these nonprofits take advantage of loose disclosure laws to make multimillion-dollar outlays in total secrecy. Some good-government activists worry that the exploding role of undisclosed cash threatens to accelerate the erosion of trust in the country’s political system.”

In One Small Prairie Town, Two Warring Visions of America.” Tim Sullivan visits Benson, MN and talks with a pastor, a newspaper editor, and many other residents about the complicated political and cultural divides that mark community life in the town.

The Betrayal.” George Packer has a long, gut-wrenching essay in the Atlantic chronicling the chaos in Afghanistan this summer: “Most efforts to avoid bad optics avoid the truth and result in worse optics.”

Fiber-Optic Solutions.” Mary Kate Skehan pens a delightful essay on a difficult topic: local politics. It’s complete with drug scandals, sewage scandals, and fiber-optic scandals.

Living Outside Our Bubbles.” Micah Meadowcroft rightly argues that social media exacerbate polarization not because they enclose us in echo chambers but because they expose us to the views of people very different from us: “Social media have contributed to political polarization. It is the theory of mechanism that is wrong, an attempt to assuage that bit of guilt we all must feel when it occurs to us how many people in our daily life exist as props and set dressing—strangers, foreigners even if our fellow citizens, abstractions we live apart from. We have not been siloed by 24 hour news and digital infotainment, but rather exposed incessantly to the reality of different types of people and alternative ways of living.”

Boys Instead of Men.” Scott Beauchamp wades into the debate over masculinity and offers a thoughtful diagnosis: “The manliness crisis isn’t one of altruism or of a redistribution of finite goods. There’s rotten anthropology at the center of these claims which completely ignores both the specific needs of men and the more general needs of humans. Men are fulfilled when they serve. We come into ourselves through sacrificial acts. And as humans, our acts can only really find coherency within a community.”

Reading Leo Strauss in China.” Matthew Dean surveys Strauss’s reception by contemporary Chinese academics and considers the implications of Chinese efforts to grapple with classical Western texts.

René Girard’s Apocalypse is Now.” Blake Smith reckons with the ways that Girard has been appropriated by some in Silicon Valley and argues instead for a more radical reading of Girard’s message: “A society without religion, ritual, constraint, or limit, in which atomised individuals compete with each other in steadily worsening spirals of envy and hostility, is the clearing in which Christ will reappear.”

Who Needs Communion?” G. A. Hernandez writes movingly about the barriers to communion in COVID-era prisons: “If only prison-themed reality TV would show fifteen men in a hallway, hands joined, sharing their hopes and fears with God and each other.”

Uyghur Kids Recall Physical and Mental Torment at Chinese Boarding Schools in Xinjiang.” With the Olympics beginning this weekend, more reporting is coming out about the ongoing Uyghur genoicde in China. This story from Emily Feng is heartbreaking.

Author Describes First-Hand Loss and Renewal from Wildfire.” Laurie Ezell Brown describes author John R. Erickson’s account of two forest fires that came through his part of Texas.

What is Rude?” Thomas Nagel reviews two recent books on a quartet of influential female philosophers: Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch. He’s not entirely sympathetic to their approach to virtue ethics, but he finds these books about the lives and thinking of these women “irresistible.”

Why the Classics: Roosevelt Montás on Rescuing Socrates.” Jonathan Tepperman interviews Roosevelt Montás about his new book. A taste: “liberal education is absolutely required for a democracy—and yet democracy is not the goal of a liberal education.”

Rotterdam Bridge to be Dismantled for Oceanco’s 127m Sailing Yacht Y721.” Holly Overton reports on the lengths to which Jeff Bezos can go to launch his massive new yacht.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. The Berry paragraph about roads vs. paths reminds me of the late, great Paul Harvey’s on-air soliloquy about dirt roads vs. paved roads, from years ago.

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