“Will Lab-Grown Meat Save Us?” Elizabeth Wainwright reads environmentalist George Monbiot’s latest book and considers its arguments in the context of two local communities she knows well, one in Devon and one in southern Zambia. Along the way, she models the kind of sympathetic, nuanced work that is vital for repairing damaged soil and communities: “It’s not traditional farming but greed, speed, and reductionist thinking that have alienated us from the land and from each other.”
“On Putin’s ‘Outright Satanism.’” Matthew J. Milliner sifts through icons and idols that would give differing meanings to the Russian war in Ukraine, and to religious movements closer to America: “There is an affinity between Moscow’s peaceful Virgin of the Passion (Strastnaya in Russian) and the passionate protesters arrested in that same square today. From her now vacant urban seat, the Theotokos calls Russia to abandon its cynical war and return to this deeper form of Christian wisdom.”
“How TikTok Ate the Internet.” Drew Harwell attempts to make sense of TikTok’s addictive power and the implications its popularity has for book sales, international relations, and more: “If you have not used TikTok, you are rapidly becoming the global exception. In five years, the app, once written off as a silly dance-video fad, has become one of the most prominent, discussed, distrusted, technically sophisticated and geopolitically complicated juggernauts on the internet — a phenomenon that has secured an unrivaled grasp on culture and everyday life and intensified the conflict between the world’s biggest superpowers.”
“The Work of a Catholic University in Local Culture.” John-Paul Heil wrestles with conflicting loyalties to places and considers how we might be called to put down roots where we find ourselves. To quote Tanya Berry quoting Gary Snyder: “You can stop someplace.”
“Why A Kroger/Albertsons Merger Is A Bad Idea.” Errol Schweizer details the likely negative outcomes of this proposed merger: “The merger would make it unlikely that a 5,000 store chain would double down on localized assortments, seasonality and sustainability trends, such as regenerative organic agriculture and climate-friendly plant-based foods. It would further centralize industrial agriculture supply chains from GMO-fed, concentrated animal feedlot beef, pork, poultry and dairy, as well as chemical-intensive fruit and vegetable monocultures that ensure uniformity of supply and low shrink.” (Recommended by Niaz Khadem.)
“How Far will the Eco-Fascists go?” Mary Harrington considers the religious dynamics underneath our debates over the proper human relationship to the rest of nature: “contrary to how it may seem from a glance at the self-styled pagans of Left-leaning green activism, in truth one of the last remaining bulwarks against genuine paganism may be those remnants of Christian thought that persist in the progressive moral framework.” (Recommended by Martin Schell.)
“Waiting on the Rain.” Brian Miller describes the way in which a farmer watches the possible approach of a much-needed rain.
“His Ideas Profoundly Split US Conservatives. He’s Just Getting Started.” Brooke Masters profiles the legal theorist and integralist Adrian Vermeule for the Financial Times.
“What Happens When a Newspaper Dies?” John W. Miller reviews Andrew Conte’s Death of the Daily News and gleans lessons for communities around the country from this story of how McKeesport, Pennsylvania has been affected by the loss of its paper: “A lot of the academic and activist work around journalism focuses on its watchdog function. Just as significantly, Conte writes, ‘newspapers simply let residents know what goes on around them—advising about opportunities to get involved in local cultural events and kids’ sports leagues, about employment openings and events at senior centers, about volunteer programs groups of residents form around some civic issues, and, yes, about the activities of the local bowling clubs.’”
“Welcome to Hutchmoot 2022.” Andrew Peterson introduced this year’s Hutchmoot with a reflection on the death—and sometimes the resurrection—of good things: “It’s sad when something you love fades away. It’s sad when something like the Eagle and Child, a place that felt like it would last forever, is up and gone overnight. The death of a historic pub can represent the death of a million beautiful things in our broken world.”
“Reading Bees.” John Ritzema offers a delightful florilegium of apiarian images from biblical and classical literature. There is delicious honey to be found here.
“The Medium Is the Menace.” Andrey Mir traces some of the ways that digital technology reshapes patterns of behavior and offers some suggestions for reining in the worst effects: “The ease of a click gives users instant access to people, knowledge—and rewards. These rewards change people’s sensory and social settings, causing the most significant, yet invisible, harm associated with the Internet. . . . Unlike rewards in the physical world, the reward of a click is as trifling as the effort expended. The low quality incites a huge demand for quantity: sensing a hint of pleasure but never satiation, people spend more and more time online.”
“Why ‘Moderate’ and ‘Centrist’ are Usually the Wrong Labels.” John Inazu articulates what frustrates him about calling independents “moderate”: “I am often called ‘centrist’ or ‘moderate,’ but these labels are inaccurate. I hold strong views about many issues. Many of these are not ‘moderate’ views, and few of them represent a “centrist” midpoint of partisan positions.”