“Why Putin is no Hitler.” Daniel McCarthy warns against falling into wrongheaded patterns of thinking as war takes place in Europe: “Certain reflexes remain irresistible in Washington, not only among politicians but in the media, too. One of these is a tendency to see every conflict as a new Second World War. Another is to believe that sufficient force and ‘resolve’ can achieve any objective, whether that is our objectives in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine. And a third is the habit of regarding those who fail to fall in line during times of crisis as traitors, appeasers, or the useful idiots of America’s enemies.”
“Stay Calm, America.” Tom Nichols, while a bit more bellicose, also counsels restraint: “the only way Putin can save himself from his own fiasco is to bait the West into an attack. Nothing would help him more, at home or abroad, than if the United States or any other NATO country were to enter direct hostilities with Russian forces.”
“Ukraine Raises Moral Question of War as a Spectator Event.” Nicole Hemmer asks about the effects of consuming war as one more entertaining spectacle: “Watching war on screen is complicated. Viewing war can deepen our empathy, lead to greater aid and philanthropy and encourage pacifism. But it can also be a source of manipulation, misinformation and even inertia. That is why, as we watch another war begin, we should think carefully about how we consume it.”
“In Ukraine, Daily Life in the Face of War.” These photographs and vignettes from Mark Neville foreground the normal people caught up in the unfolding—and longstanding—violence in Ukraine.
“Patriotism Good, Nationalism Bad?” Matthew Loftus wrestles with some intractable questions that are often obscured in today’s conversations around nations and nationalism.
“Laughter In Dark Times.” L.M. Sacasas makes a surprising, but deeply wise, recommendation: to laugh. As he writes, “We have been plagued both by a pretentious and preening seriousness from certain quarters and equally pretentious frivolity from others, for which the best remedy may be laughter.”
“Why You Should Pay Attention to Local, Not Just National, History.” I wrote a brief defense of learning local history to kick off this month’s set of conversations at the Lyceum Movement.
“Does My Son Know You?” In a very moving essay, Jonathan Tjarks writes about his cancer treatments, his faith, and the difficulties of forming lasting friendships in a mobile society: “I can’t imagine not being in a life group at this point. Human beings aren’t supposed to go through life as faces in a crowd. It’s like the song from Cheers. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Life group is a different kind of insurance. People talk a lot about medical insurance and life insurance when you get sick. But relational insurance is far more important.”
“The Catherine Project.” I just received the new issue of Plough Quarterly in the mail, so I’ve only read a few essays thus far. The theme is music, and they look to have gathered a rich conversation around this topic. But amid that discussion, don’t miss Zena Hitz’s brief, off-topic, and wonderfully encouraging report on the Catherine Project.
“Tamar Haspel on First-Hand Food.” Russ Roberts talks with Haspel about her new book, To Boldly Grow, in which she describes her endeavor to eat one thing each day that she had grown or killed or procured herself. Despite her sophomoric reading of Thoreau’s Walden, they have a rich conversation about what Berry calls “the pleasures of eating.” (Recommended by Jon Schaff.)
“Why Soil is a Surprisingly Noisy Place.” Ute Eberle summarizes fascinating new research into the sounds rippling through the dirt. All kinds of animals and plants contribute to a meaningful symphony beneath our feet.
“Every Customer Has a Name and a Story: How a Century-Old Small-Town Retailer Survives Walmart.” John W. Miller learns from a small-town business that has found an answer to a difficult question: “Ilene Zinn, whose family has owned and operated Ruttenberg’s since its opening 92 years ago, has confronted the thorniest problem for small businesses in rural America: How do you compete against massive retailers like Walmart and Amazon that go to the ends of the earth to find the cheapest products and generally pay below-average wages?”
“Our Squandered Inheritance.” Richard Gamble reflects on the significance of Eric Adler’s The Battle of the Classics: “Adler does not write as a political partisan. He does not offer a cliched defense of Western civilization, or a culture-war polemic. It takes courage to defend the classics in our time, and Adler’s work will re-invigorate those who feel as though they are fighting a losing battle.”
“On Ukraine and the Failed Pax Capitalis.” Rhyd Wildermuth argues that the war in Ukraine should be the last nail in the coffin of Thomas Friedman’s “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention”: “No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s.”