“A Way of Life Being Lost.” Ruth Conniff visits Henry County, KY to talk with Wendell Berry and Mary Berry about rural America, the work of the Berry Center, and models for healthy farm economies.
“Seed Oils and Bad Science.” Carmel Richardson narrates the history of producing, marketing, and regulating seed oils: “The efficiency gamble in food production was a deal with the devil, and heaven only knows what that means for getting out of it.”
“I’m a Journalist Who Stopped Reading the News. Is the Problem Me—Or Our Product?” Amanda Ripley figures if 4 out of 10 Americans are avoiding the news, maybe that’s a sign something is wrong with the way our news ecosystem is functioning: “Why are people avoiding the news? It’s repetitive and dispiriting, often of dubious credibility, and it leaves people feeling powerless, according to the survey. The evidence supports their decision to pull back. It turns out that the more news we consume about mass-casualty events, such as shootings, the more we suffer. The more political news we ingest, the more mistakes we make about who we are. If the goal of journalism is to inform people, where is the evidence it is working?” (Recommended by Niaz Khadem.)
“Christianity and Poetry.” Dana Gioia has a brilliant and substantive new essay out on the role of poetry within the Christian tradition:
Poetry is not merely important to Christianity. It is an essential, inextricable, and necessary aspect of religious faith and practice. The fact that most Christians would consider that assertion absurd does not invalidate it. Their disagreement only demonstrates how remote the contemporary Church has become from its own origins. It also suggests that sacred poetry is so interwoven into the fabric of Scripture and worship as to become invisible. At the risk of offending most believers, it is necessary to state a simple but unacknowledged truth: It is impossible to understand the full glory of Christianity without understanding its poetry.
“Secularization Theses.” Paul Dicken reviews The Shadow of God: Kant, Hegel, and the Passage from Heaven to History, by Michael Rosen, and largely concurs with Rosen’s intellectual history: “The Enlightenment was about the rational explication of religion, not its rejection. Yet at the same time, it was precisely this Miltonian effort to justify the ways of God to man that put the process of secularization into motion.” (Recommended by Rob Grano.)
“Moving Again? Residential Disruption and Challenges to Adolescent Well-Being.” Jane C. Christensen and Mark H. Butler try to quantify some of the costs that young people bear when they are uprooted, particularly if they have to move repeatedly.
“The Ants and the Grasshopper.” Brian Miller notices what many of us have in the past few years: more and more disruptions to the supply chain. What might we do in response? “There is plenty we can do to provide a little more resilience in our lives, and it’s along the lines of ‘prepare for changes and expect less.’”
“The Anti-Woke Girondist’s Lament.” Patrick Deneen reviews a new book by Douglass Murray and is decidedly unimpressed. In critiquing Murray’s book, he argues that “Murray and Kendi are burning two sides of the same candle, propping up a revolutionary regime by ensuring that everyone remains obsessed by the latest identity outrage.”
“The Pure Joy of Baseball for These Children With Disabilities.” Clare Ansberry describes a network of baseball leagues that enable people with disabilities to enjoy the opportunity to play ball: “They love playing baseball. Their families love watching them. For many of the players, this is the only team sport they can play.”
“The Value of Uselessness.” In her case for cultivating “play” amid a restless culture, Elizabeth Corey consults Michael Oakeshott, Josef Pieper, and others: “Intrinsic value is the essence of play, and perhaps it even offers intimations of immortality. Though we can never escape the constraints of time, we can sometimes act as if time doesn’t rule our lives. Play affords us this interim.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“A Time Of Sonorous Prose.” Bradford Tuckfield contrasts Ruskin’s understanding of a transcendentally ordered and enchanted world with Kafka’s absurd and disenchanted world—and considers how such disparities correlate with stylistic and qualitative decay in art and literature. (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“Coming Undone in the Age of Mass Shootings.” The Atlantic’s Elizabeth Bruenig recounts the progression of personal “fade-out” that follows each episode of violence in our day: “Every time it happens, the blood runs through the path they cut and makes it deeper and wider, carves it into the flesh of this country. It’s how we live now.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“The Dutch Farmers’ Uprising.” Emma Freire offers some context for the widespread and unusual protests underway in the Netherlands.
“The Crooked Heart of W. H. Auden.” James Matthew Wilson reviews Auden’s Collected Poems and charts some of the development in Auden’s poetic and moral vision: “The great lesson of Auden’s life was that seemingly scientific ideas of historical determinism, Marxist or otherwise, were really an evasion of responsibility. His work as a whole counsels us, as does his poem ‘As I walked out one evening,’ to look honestly at the evils of historical life. Rather than blaming and succumbing to them, you must ‘love your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart.’”