“David McCullough, Master Chronicler of American History, Dies at 89.” Glenn Rifkin remembers a remarkable storyteller who made forgotten aspects of American history come to life: “Working for much of his career in a tiny windowed shed behind his farmhouse in West Tisbury, Mass, on Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. McCullough tapped away on a manual 1940 Royal typewriter purchased for $25 in 1965.”
“I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message.” The trouble with today’s technologists, Ezra Klein writes, riffing on McLuhan and Postman, “is that they do not take technology seriously enough. They refuse to see how it is changing us or even how it is changing them.”
“Before the Flood, Breaking Beans at Hindman.” Tracy Staley tries to make sense of the devastation caused by flooding in eastern Kentucky and the ongoing response: “In the days since the flood, two stories have unfolded simultaneously at the Settlement School: work to save its archives of precious photos and manuscripts and other historical items, and efforts to serve the community with meals, supplies, and temporary housing. Preserving the past and serving the community are at the heart of the Hindman mission.”
“Middlemarch Marriages.” Sarah Clarkson meditates on the plot and insights of Eliot’s great novel: “questions about meaning are most intensively explored through the domestic dramas of three fraught marriages. By looking at each in turn, and identifying which Eliot presents as a “success,” we get a tour of Eliot’s own pilgrimage. We glimpse her own confusion and disappointment in the various fictional marriages, but we also travel with her to the novel’s surprising and powerful (and, indeed, biblical) conclusion about what makes a life meaningful, a love great, and a person a saint.”
“’The Sacrifice Zone’: Myanmar Bears Cost of Green Energy.” Dake Kang, Victoria Milko, and Lori Hinnant have a heartbreaking story about the destruction left in the wake of rare earth mining: “The story of rare earths is one of a naked grab for resources while leaving the wreckage to other countries.” (Recommended by Carmen LaBerge.)
“How Higher Education Lost its Shine.” Jon Marcus details some of the factors contributing to double-digit percentage dips in high school grads going on to college: “Many observers have suggested three principal explanations for the falloff: the Covid-19 pandemic, a dip in the number of Americans under 18 and a strong labor market sucking young people straight into the workforce.”
“Yes We Can: The Rise, Fall, and Potential Rebirth of Municipal Canning.” In a smartly produced comic form, Nhatt Nichols gives a history of public canning facilities and points to one operation in Virginia that has adapted to changing demand and finds ongoing success.
“The West is Homeless.” Paul Kingsnorth reflects on what is lost when the home and its hearth and economy is outsourced: “The fireplace, whether our dessicated urban authorities know it or not, has a primal meaning, even in a world as divorced as ours from its roots and from the land.” (Recommended by Paul Perrault.)
“Teaching Children to See.” Kelly Givens meditates on the power of humility to open our eyes: “When I attend to the daily, ordinary miracles of cardinals, acorns and peaches, when I name them, marvel at them and call them blessed, when I practice gratitude for them, I feel more content. I find myself desiring more of those things, and less from the consumer world. I find I would much rather spend a Saturday morning in the woods or on a walk than at a shopping center or scrolling Instagram.”
“Flannery O’Connor on Sin and Politics.” Darrell Falconburg attests that O’Connor’s work resists the easy utopias of modernity and instead faces sin squarely: “Politics may be important, to be sure, but our problem runs much deeper. The problems of the world are not something that we can fix overnight with protesting, sloganeering, or even passing new laws. Instead, the woes of the world have a deeper spiritual aspect.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“The Freedom of Friendship.” Drawing on Lewis, Bonhoeffer, and personal experience, Laura Fabrycky considers the freedoms and ties of friendship: “Remaining open to the risks and refusals of friendship—offering it to others afresh, risking rejection or the reality that a friendship may not satisfy the pre-existing demands of one’s heart—is one of life’s greatest adventures, part of the gift of being human, and one worth doing even as we age in order to stay human.” (Recommended by Sarah Soltis.)
“Exhaustion, Its Causes and Treatments.” Alan Jacobs has some wise recommendations about how to break out of the soul-crushing cycle of stimulus and response, and he turns to Ivan Illich for guidance: “The first step in making ourselves and our institutions more functional is simply this: To try doing for ourselves what the anonymous media companies are always telling us they can do for us.” His follow-up post “Another Friendly Reminder” also has good advice for evading the designs of those who profit from inciting hatred.
“Why We Preach for Proper Names.” Tish Harrison Warren commends the humble work of local ministry to particular people: “Wendell Berry said that the things we ‘love tend to have proper names.’ We cannot love the church or the world abstractly. Instead, when we preach and minister to others, we must learn to do so for people with proper names in a place with a proper name.”
“The Day No One Would Say the Nazis Were Bad.” Mary Townsend confronts an unsettling question: “I’m used to the attempt to subvert more or less hollow moral outrage; but what do you do when there’s none at all?”