Can Love Take Sides?” The new issue of Plough is full of worthwhile essays, but Porchers will want to start with this essay by Wendell Berry. It’s an excerpt from his forthcoming book, The Need to be Whole: “love comes into our civilization – the Gospels being the source best known to me – as a way of being in the world. It is a force, extraordinarily demanding and humbling, dangerous too, for those who attempt to take it seriously.”

No Promises.” Eve Tushnet plumbs the twisted depths of an addicted self—which may define all of us, in one way or another—to wonder who can make a promise and what forgiveness might mean: “The purpose of the forgiveness you extend to others likely differs from the purpose of the forgiveness God extends to you, but neither is offered as a tool to extract compliance.”

Reading in Unprecedented Times.” Jason Peters returns to some literary classics to find enduring truths about humans: “It may be that “Men are as the time is,” as the bastard Edmund said in King Lear. But men and women nevertheless have agency. They can refuse to let their thinking be dominated by the news cycle or by these ‘unprecedented times.’”

Of Wandering Angels and Lost Landmarks.” Daegan Miller writes about, and Brent Mathison photographs the landscape around, “The Thousand Mile Tree,” which stands 1,000 miles inland along the Transcontinental railroad: “Still another way to think about landmarks is that they’re periods in sentences, vanishing points in a picture: all lines converge upon them and nothing makes sense without them, though they make no sense on their own. They are a place to pause.”

Is There a Christian Case for Biden’s Debt Relief Plan?” David French considers the biblical theme of debt forgiveness and questions its applicability to Biden’s student debt relief plan. Politically motivated misreadings of the Bible are indeed a bipartisan American activity: “The only thing worse than social media shouting matches is social media shouting matches infused with religious intensity.”

Cowing Family Farms.” Carmel Richardson tells a frustrating and all-too-common story about a small farmer hounded by USDA regulators until the viability of his farm is in jeopardy: “As small farms continue to be pushed out of the picture, whether due to the invisible hand of the market, which favors big players, or the heavy hand of the government, which favors conformity, the result will be a loss of diversity in both the foods available and the sources from which they can be purchased.” (Recommended by Aaron Weinacht.)

The Great Reset: Living Like It’s 1999.” Brian Miller has quit his job and is going to farm full time. He’s also rethinking his relationship to phones and computers in an effort to direct his attention to his own place and community.

An Open Letter Responding to the NatCon ‘Statement of Principles.’” What is the proper role of the nation? There’s been increased discussion of this question in recent years, and this group of signatories urges caution in embracing nations as the means to protect local affections: “We are born into social relations, Burke’s “little platoons”; and these are the first object of our affections. The care that has been extended to us before we could reciprocate, we learn to extend to others: particularly to those weakest among us. We learn to love and care for family and friends, community and country. This love creates a sense of attachment and affection that gradually extends to our fellow citizens and humankind—the strangers in our midst who become our neighbours. On this basis we can start to displace a globalism of surveillance and suspicion with an internationalism of friendship and reciprocity.”

Gene Editing Could Revive a Nearly Lost Tree. Not Everyone is on Board.” Dino Grandoni weighs the possibilities and perils of planting genetically modified chestnuts—now resistant to the blight that wiped out their forebears—across American forests: “But saving a species — especially with genetic engineering — is as much a public relations battle as it is a scientific quest. Critics say releasing the transgenic tree is akin to running a massive and irreversible experiment in the wild.”

Why Many Americans Turned on Anthony Fauci.” Ari Schulman offers a sober, nuanced analysis of Fauci’s failures and the broader institutional failures they symbolize: “‌However much truth there is to the story that Dr. Fauci was a victim of our polarized era and broken media environment, it is also ‌‌partial‌‌ and simplistic‌‌. . . . Dr. Fauci became the face of American public health’s incoherent response to the pandemic.”

You are Already in the Metaverse.” Jon Askonas warns that the Metaverse doesn’t depend on Zuckerberg’s success in wooing people to his virtual reality platform: “An internet is coming where every community will have the tools to build compelling narrative worlds of their own, big enough to live inside. The ability to dwell in a virtual world isn’t the product of sophisticated computer renderings but of the human mind.”

Mississippi Water Crisis Triggers Blame Game.” The news out of Jacksonville is bleak. Hannah Northey reports on the dire situation many residents are in: “Officials yesterday pinned Jackson’s current water woes on a combination of flooding, shifting chemistry, long-standing infrastructure problems and staffing shortages, but they offered few details on when conditions would improve.”

Threnody for a Good Man.” Jake Meador remembers the good life of a friend in Nebraska and compares his faithful goodness to that of Wendell Berry’s character Mat Feltner: “As we watch men like Mat be lowered into the ground, we do know that they, like the crops they planted in life, will sprout again in the Spring, breaking through the ground and reaching upward to the heavens. But I do worry about the severity of the Winter that must come first.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture

1 COMMENT

  1. Carmel’s piece in TAC is…disturbing. Is this largely a regional issue, or is this happening all over the country?

    Also, kudos to Brian for taking the dive. I’m not quite sure what I need to do, as my jobs require internet access. Been trying my best to stay offline the other hours, but it’s definitely hard. Not so much on my phone, though. Even being back on a smartphone, it helps when you’ve used a flip phone for a while.

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