Hoping for Doomsday.” I’ve been savoring the summer issue of Plough. Peter Mommsen’s opening editorial is, as usual, excellent: “In the interim of the ages, as the universe’s great Sabbath approaches, humankind has work to do. Plant the sapling; tend the earthworms; welcome the children given to you; hope. The times may be troubled – but beyond them, there’s a future to eagerly await.”

The Secret Life of Leftovers.” As someone who regularly ate steak, pie, and other delicacies from cleared plates when I washed dishes, I appreciated Nat Watkins’s brilliant and practical essay: “Some of the world’s most common dishes — like chilis, soups, and casseroles — were once common ways of using leftovers. A culture of scarcity created delicious food, often literally out of cultures growing on food: yeasts, molds, and bacteria. We would have no cheese, bread, and beer without them. By contrast, our culture of abundance is also a culture of waste, partly because we have forgotten the ways we used to cook.”

The Tory Tradition.” Michael J. Connolly provides an intellectual history of the Tory sensibility: “There is a Tory tradition in America that runs against the grain of establishment Liberalism, embracing home, hearth, community, family, church, nature, and the moral realities of everyday life, opposed to individualism, unlimited free markets, libertarianism, secularism, and the rootless loneliness of global modernity.” (Recommended by Tim Wolter.)

Am I an Idiot for Wanting a Dumber Phone?” Meghan O’Gieblyn encourages those who feel a pull toward a dumb phone to embrace the urge to go dumb. Sometimes disconnecting in part can enable us to enjoy “a freedom and autonomy from public life, the kind of existence that often serves as a haven for independent thought.”

The West Needs to Grow Up.” Paul Kingsnorth considers how to rebuild a culture that no longer believes in itself: “I find it useful, in trying to parse the madness of that culture war, to see the time we are living in as what I have come to call a culture of inversion. The West’s ongoing decline has caused its elites to lose faith in their cultural inheritance, and this loss of faith has now reached pathological proportions. As a result, the leading lights in Western society — the cultural elites, and sometimes the political and economic elites too — are dedicated not to upholding the cultural forms they inherited, but to turning them on their heads, or erasing them entirely.” In making sense of this situation, Kingsnorth turns to the poet Robert Bly. (Recommended by Martin Schell.)

Who is Your Alma Mater?” Douglas V. Henry offers an explanation for why many universities inspire devotion within their alumni and considers whether such devotion is warranted: “A true alma mater … orders education to the highest things.”

He Did not Take Revenge on the Torturers.” Zechariah Mickle interviews William Cavanaugh about Stanley Hauerwas, politics, Dobbs, and the church: “In a lot of ways, I think the current political moment is just the fruit, the rotten fruit, of this realignment of wealth and power that’s been coming for the last half-century.”

In Flooded Kentucky Mountain Town, Residents Rescued Each Other.” Jess Clark interviews state representative Angie Hatton about the terrible flooding in eastern Kentucky: “we are going to need a lot of help. And we certainly need your prayers. But never ever write us off, because come hell or high water, mountain people will absolutely rebuild, and we will figure out how to be okay.”

Civil Society and the Marketplace.” Gregory M. Collins engages both critically and appreciatively with Black Liberation Through the Marketplace: Hope, Heartbreak, and the Promise of America and tries to parse the goods of market and civil society, prosperity and human flourishing: “the dynamic blend of entrepreneurship, self-help organizations, and institutions and traditions of civil society formed a rich cultural inheritance of black America—a lengthening of black memory from generation to generation—that included but transcended liberation through the marketplace.”

The Privatization of the Truth.” W. Joseph DeReuil explores the paradox that a common, set curriculum liberates students “to apprehend and pursue the good.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)

Nestled in Maternal Bliss.” Marlo Slayback meditates on the interplay of instinct, culture, and reason as she comes to terms with what it means to be a mother. (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)

Waiting Tables as Soul Craft.” Ben Christenson commends the goods of non-resume-building jobs such as waiting tables: “serving calls forth your humanity. You’re facilitating one of the simplest forms of community: sharing a meal.”

Amazon’s iRobot Deal Seen Facing Tough FTC Antitrust Review.” Leah Nylen breaks down the dangers of Amazon’s latest purchase and weighs the probable outcome of an FTC suit.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. This is the first Wired article I’ve come across that I have to subscribe to read. That’s a bummer. Re: dumbphones.

    • Nevermind, I was able to bypass the paywall by sending it to my Remarkable tablet. Not a bad essay, and I like how she contrasted idiocy with stupidity. I do think her comments about the LP2 were a little harsh, though, as the applications that were added are a bit more serious/practical than what they could have added. However, that doesn’t mean I disagree with her point.

      I’m currently in a less-than-ideal situation, having a job that requires a 2FA application to login if I am away from the office, and we’ve phased out the hard keys. So having a dumbphone (F1), I still need my old smartphone to access the authenticator apps. It’s not the worst situation, but it is annoying to carry around the extra device, not to mention those urges to mindlessly scroll, despite having the majority of extraneous applications removed.

      I hate how hardwired I’ve been in this regard, but I know it’s not without hope.

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