“Wendell Berry’s Advice for a Cataclysmic Age.” In a surprisingly sympathetic essay—surprising given its appearance in the New Yorker, a publication not known for its sympathy with agrarians from rural Kentucky–Dorothy Wickenden describes a recent visit to the Berry’s and how his forthcoming book articulates many of the themes he’s been sounding for the past sixty years:
This “pondering and ponderous book,” as he calls it, contains something to offend almost everyone. “A properly educated conservative, who has neither approved of abortion nor supported a tax or a regulation, can destroy a mountain or poison a river and sleep like a baby,” he writes. “A well-instructed liberal, who has behaved with the prescribed delicacy toward women and people of color, can consent to the plunder of the land and people of rural America and sleep like a conservative.”
“Grow Deep, Not Wide.” Joy Ike writes about gardening and painting and creating beauty in a neighborhood riven by drugs and violence. And she also describes how she went about trying to plant seeds of hope here by opening her front porch to the neighboring children.
“The Liberal Order is Already Dead.” Paul Kingsnorth remembers the fall of the Berlin Wall and seeks to understand that event in the light of what has happened in the ensuing thirty years: “Looking back, we can see that what happened when the wall fell was not the triumph of freedom over oppression so much as the defeat of one Western ideology by another. The one that came through was the oldest, subtlest and longest-lasting, one which disguised itself so well that we didn’t know it was an ideology at all: liberalism.”
“Urban Planning Can Facilitate Friendship.” Eve Tushnet examines why American cities house lonely people: “our own cities fail to foster friendship precisely because they are too often planned around the needs of the same kind of person who served as the ideal citizen of much ancient philosophy: male, respected and privileged, unencumbered by poverty or by dependents who need his care. To the extent that our cities are built for autonomous individuals, they are built against friendship.” Her essay goes on to explore several places where friendships are more likely to form and grow.
“The New York Times Took on the Food System. Here’s What They Missed..” Sophia Murphy and Ben Lilliston respond to a recent video series published by the paper of record: “The New York Times sets up a ridiculous false choice: Either we pollute the planet and treat animals inhumanely, or we eat crickets. Really?”
“Education as a Moral Enterprise.” Christine Norvell reviews McGuffey and His Readers: Piety, Morality, and Education in Nineteenth-Century America by John H. Westerhoff III. This book traces the history of public schooling in the first decades of the United States through the ubiquitous McGuffey Readers.
“The Field Is the World.” Last month, FPR published an essay from a college student who had learned from the work of Good Soil Farm in Maryland. Now John-Paul Heil details the ways in which the McGinley’s have worked to respond to the blight inflicted by industrial agriculture: “Eventually, most farmers, unable to get big, got out. Implementing the USDA’s production-oriented guidelines destroyed their land and failed to make them money. These farmers deserve little if any blame for this. Instead, the fault rests with the technocratic, utilitarian mentality that promised those who tended northern Maryland’s farms wealth and greater yield but instead drove them and their land to destitution. Some fields in this area lost so many nutrients that the soil has nothing left but iron, in which almost nothing grows.”
“Why the Ancient Art of Gleaning is Making a Comeback across England.” Rachel Stevenson reports on the people picking produce that would otherwise go to waste: “Groups have formed up and down England, including in Kent, Sussex, Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter and London, each approaching local farmers to ask about harvesting produce they cannot sell. The gleaners then give it to food banks, community kitchens and food projects, which distribute it as raw produce or cooked meals, soups, pickles and preserves.”
“Federalism and the Founders.” Allen C. Guelzo looks at the historical debates surrounding the adoption of the Constitution to argue that the threats to liberty are local as often as they are national: “We sometimes imagine that the solutions to all of our problems are to be found in ‘restoring federalism’ — which is usually shorthand for curtailing national authority in favor of state or local authority. This ignores the fact that the propensity to abuse power can be found just as easily at the meetings of a local school board as in the District of Columbia.”
“Gather & Grow.” The Groves are expanding their operation. If you’ve read Rory Groves’s Durable Trades, or even if you haven’t yet done so, you’ll be interested to see their plans.
“Contemplative Realism: The Germinal Yearnings of a New Literary Movement.” Joshua Hren outlines his desire for an aesthetic he terms Contemplative Realism: “To be a Contemplative Realist, we must first adopt the initial word of the Rule of St. Benedict: Listen. Join us as we learn from each other what it means to create and refract beauty amidst brokenness—to deliver hard truths and give the soul rest, to tell it like it is—both awful and hopeful—in a fallen world that groans for redemption.”
“The Art of Insubordination.” Dominic Packer and Jay Van Bavel interview Todd Kashdan about how to be insubordinate: “A good team player disagrees openly.”