Repair and Remain.” Kurt Armstrong shares some wisdom about fidelity that he’s picked up along a winding life: “for twelve years now I’ve had a hybrid operation, juggling a one-man autodidact home-repair business and part-time lay ministry at a little Anglican church in Winnipeg. My basic MO in both roles is simple: repair and remain.”

Something Happened By Us: A Demonology.” Alan Jacobs compiles evidence and observations in the service of a rather chilling conclusion: he wishes “you, dear reader, to consider the possibility that when a tweet provokes you to wrath, or an Instagram post makes you envious, or some online article sends you to another and yet another in an endless chain of what St. Augustine called curiositas — his favorite example is the gravitational pull on all passers-by of a dead body on the side of the road — you are dealing with powers greater than yours. Your small self and your puny will are overwhelmed by the Cosmic Rulers, the Principalities and Powers. They oppress or possess you, and they can neither be deflected nor, by the mere exercise of will, overcome. Any freedom from what torments us begins with a proper demonology. Later we may proceed to exorcism.”

Small-Town USA.” Phil Christman teases apart the many images that have been projected onto small towns and tries to see the realities that lie obscured behind these projections. As he notes, “A place will certainly be grumpy if its value depends on its ability to square a circle.”

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” Jonathan Haidt probes the causes for the breakdown in trust that marks American life over the past decade, and he draws on a seminal biblical story: “Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families.” Haidt’s proposals for restoring trust are worth considering; a few years ago I drew on Wendell Berry to offer a more localist path toward regaining trust in the wake of social media’s destruction.

Black Christian Homeschoolers Are Redefining the Movement.” Liuan Huska talks with several mothers and teachers who are bringing Charlotte Mason and homeschooling curricula to African American families: “Homeschooling took off during the pandemic. Between spring and fall 2020, homeschooling rates doubled, from 5 to 11 percent, according to US Census Bureau surveys. The rate grew fastest among Black families, up more than fivefold from 3 percent to 16 percent.”

Franz Liszt: Superstar, Sinner, Saint.” When Nathan Beacom writes about a musician, you know the result will be sympathetic and probing. His new essay on Liszt is no exception: “‘Holiness’ is a stuffy word, easily misused by the sentimental, but in its oldest origins, it simply means “wholeness.” That is what Liszt was really searching for, and what he came nearer to finding in these, his later years.”

It’s Not just Glen Canyon—Dams around the Southwest are Taking a Hit.” Doug Johnson describes the ripple effects of the longterm drought in the Southwest, particularly regarding hydro power generation.

Gender After Eden.” Mary Harrington reviews Abigail Favale’s The Genesis of Gender: “Favale invites us to consider whether this disaggregation of selfhood, reproduction, and embodiment—already underway technologically—really adds up to a better world.”

David Bentley Hart’s Post-Christian Pantheism.” Edward Feser reviews David Bentley Hart’s latest book and sorts through the implications of its arguments: “Clearly, Hart knows a lot of words, but he may want to double-check the meaning of ‘disinterested.’”

The Growing Necessity of Ownership.” Bonnie Kristian makes a distributist argument in a digital key: “The shift toward broader ownership may be slow. But the necessity of ownership is becoming ever more obvious to ever more people of ever more ilks.”

Race to Robotic Apple Harvest in ‘Pivotal Year.’” Sierra Dawn McClain reports on several robots in testing now that could replace human apple pickers. This does seem to be the “natural” telos of worshiping efficiency. Once you turn necessary work into drudgery, finding a robot to do that work makes perfect sense. But in Wendell Berry’s phrase, this isn’t “solving for pattern.”

Stewart Brand’s Long, Strange Trip.” Paul Sabin reviews John Markoff’s new biography of Stewart Brand: “Markoff aims to illuminate tensions in how environmentalism related to science and technology, but he struggles to place Brand’s contributions effectively in the context of the complex broader movement. Maybe that’s because, in the end, Brand rode a series of waves, but did not create them.”

We’ve Never Seen a Carbon-Removal Plan Like This Before.” Robinson Meyer explains the implications of Big Tech’s commitment to fund carbon-removal technologies. Such technologies may play a beneficial role in mitigating ecological damage, but I also worry they can become one more way in which, to borrow Stewart Brand’s famous claim, “we are as gods and might as well get good at it.”

The Rise of the Liberal Groomer.” Mary Harrington traces the origins of the recent controversies over sex education and argues that “while the term ‘groomer’ is unfair in the sense that the intent behind most of this infant erotic proselytising really isn’t initiating sexual contact with those kids, it’s also entirely justified.”

The Incompetence of ‘Woke-Washed’ Governance.” Michael Hendrix warns that local politicians need to focus on solving real problems rather than jousting at windmills: “One reason why woke-washed incompetence persists is that local elected officials are too responsive to the results of low-turnout, off-cycle elections overstuffed with activists and public union members, whose interests may deviate from that of the median urban voter (and sometimes even from the groups they purport to represent). The nationalization of politics also means that local candidates can run — and win — on national culture-war issues they have little control over while having to promise even less in the way of actual local outcomes.” (Recommended by Martin Schell.)

Moving Livestock 101.” Brian Miller recounts the humorous escapades that occur when transporting farm animals.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture

1 COMMENT

  1. I really wanted to like the Christian piece on small towns, but ultimately, I think the author is full of it.

    Example: Bozeman is a truly awful place. Even though the author is somewhat skeptical of the story he’s read about it, he clearly has no idea how bad the problem is: and his subject matter suggests that he should care. The media home price in Bozeangeles these days is over 700,000 (last time I checked). Overall, the piece reeks of the attitude that “everything is ok, if only the conservative alarum-purveyors will just knock it off.” This attitude is in error. There’s no good way (as his piece suggests) to live well in 12 lanes of stopped traffic, simply by adjusting one’s attitude towards the same. If you want to make distinctions between types of cities, then that might actually be useful. But as is, this piece is largely an excuse for signaling one’s sophisticate bona fides, while pretending to do the opposite.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here