Watch the Great Fall.” Paul Kingsnorth acknowledges his own tendencies toward nostalgia and draws on some fine poets to articulate the proper posture toward decline: “The theologies of Zen, Orthodoxy, Mark Anthony and Robinson Jeffers differ wildly, and yet they alight, all of them, on this same reality. So does every other religious tradition I know of. To watch the great fall, to say goodbye to Alexandria, to accept that nothing gold can stay: this is the task of people who find themselves living through the falling years. It is the prelude to doing anything useful with our time. If we spend that time lamenting the fall, or trying to prevent it, or stewing in bitterness at those we believe responsible, we will find ourselves cast into darkness. If we ‘degrade ourselves with empty hopes’ of some form of technological or political salvation yet to come, the darkness will be just as deep.”

Still Truckin’.” Nicholas Clairmont has a delightful and insightful review of Bryan Appleyard’s The Car: The Rise and Fall of the Machine That Made the Modern World: “It is a shame he did not write the whole book like the epilogue, instead of taking for granted the fashionable opinion of the sorts of people who hang around with writers in cities, as though it has any relation to the likely political and technological reality of the coming decades. That might have led him to explore the ways by which reports of ‘the fall of the machine that made the modern world’ have been greatly exaggerated.”

Stream Off.” Brad East makes a theological and cultural case for churches to take down their livestreams: “disappointingly, if predictably, the digital tail is wagging the ecclesial dog. That is to say, the fact of what churches are equipped to do has decided, de facto, what the churches will do and are doing.”

Connecticut Parents Arrested for Letting Kids, Ages 7 and 9, Walk to Dunkin’ Donuts.” Lenore Skenazy describes the benefits that come from children playing outside and on their own–and the obstacles to them experiencing these benefits: “Let Grow, the nonprofit I helm, is trying to change the neglect laws so that simply trusting your kids in the outside world is not reason enough to trigger investigations like the ones the Rivers endured.”

America’s Brash Grandiosity.” Bonnie Kristian considers the uses of a monarchy. While she admits it’s a longshot, she argues that having some royalty might tamp down the excesses and dysfunctions of American political discourse: “Its use is not, as critics tend to assume, in creating a grandiosity of state. It is rather in containing it, attaching it to a figure whose relative permanence, undemocratic selection, and minimal real power allow him to absorb outbursts of national feeling instead of such outbursts loosing their chaos into workaday politics and governance.”

Mortality and Natality First Hand.” Leah Libresco Sargeant draws on an essay by Ryan Anderson and Kristin Lavransdatter to describe the benefits of experiencing natural births and deaths: “Just as alienation from the lives of what we eat (animal and plant) limits our ability to advocate for them; the more distance we have from birth, the harder it is to advocate for women and children.”

The Press versus the President, Part One.” Jeff Gerth delves into the relationship between Trump and the news media, focusing on the stories about possible collusion with Russia. There’s plenty of blame to go around in this saga of codependence: “On the eve of a new era of intense political coverage, this is a look back at what the press got right, and what it got wrong, about the man who once again wants to be president. So far, few news organizations have reckoned seriously with what transpired between the press and the presidency during this period. That failure will almost certainly shape the coverage of what lies ahead.”

OY, A.I.” Jaron Lanier draws on Jewish tradition to address questions around AI. His approach probes the question of what people are for and how these technologies force us to consider the ways we value one another: “The response to a relatively simple and early AI chatbot called ChatGPT has been huge, consuming newspaper space and news feeds, and yet there is hardly ever a consideration for how it might be fruitfully applied. Instead, we seem to want to be endlessly charmed, frightened, or awed. Is this not a religious response?”

What the Culture Wars Get Wrong.” Hans Zeiger cites recent studies showing broad agreement across partisan lines regarding what kind of history American students should be taught: “It turns out that the vast majority of Americans are willing to acknowledge the tragedies and evils of our history, even as we recognize and celebrate our national achievements and ideals.”

Ted McAllister’s Place: A Memorial Tribute.” Bruce P. Frohnen remembers a great writer, teacher, and editor. Why Place Matters remains an essential set of reflections on the importance of place, and McAllister’s other writings have much to offer: “Ted will, of course, be remembered most for his scholarship. But it is a testament to the right order of his soul that he lived in a manner that prioritized his faith, his family, and his primary vocation as a teacher over worldly success.”

Education, Catechesis, and the State.” Jake Meador tries to cut through the recent controversies over school libraries and curricula by reminding us that education is always oriented toward someone’s vision of the good life: “That the American right would eventually tire of [progressive control of schools] and take steps to combat it through acting directly on the public schools themselves should not be surprising to anyone. And if this unhappy tale in American public life is to end with anything other than tragedy, it will require significant steps to deescalate, steps that must begin with an attempt to sincerely understand the opposite side’s concerns. The catechetical agendas of both right and left will need to expand themselves to accommodate questions of peaceful coexistence and principled pluralism amidst our deep differences.”

To Be a Woman Is to Be Called to Motherhood.” Tessa Carman reviews Sally Thomas’s new novel Works of Mercy and ponders its lessons about vocation and motherhood: “Too often we think in terms of discrete life stages: Once we get married, perhaps, then we can start thinking about being a mother (or father), when really, to be a man is to be called to fatherhood, and to be a woman is to be called to motherhood.”

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  1. Kingsnorth’s latest blog strives to present a middle way between Progress and Nostalgia. He quotes a poem by Constantine Cavafy, a Greek born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1863, and repeats one couplet for emphasis:
    “As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
    say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.”

    Those familiar with Leonard Cohen (who lived in Greece for a long time) may recognize that couplet and other parts of Cavafy’s poem about Marc Anthony in the song Alexandra Leaving:

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