“The Return of the Bison.” In the latest issue of Plough (which is another excellent issue), Nathan Beacom explores how bison continue to hold ecosystems together: “The American bison stands at the crossroads of the animal, plant, and human worlds. It is part of an integrated ecosystem that includes people as much as it does bobcats, finches, and sunflowers. Finding the right way to relate to this, our national mammal, might show the way to a healthy relationship with the natural world of the American West.”
“Why Wait?” Elizabeth Stice wisely reminds us not to wait for someone else to act before we begin the work of restoration to which we are called. It’s a lot easier to blame the elites or some outgroup for all our ills, but such a stance avoids the responsibilities that we have: “Many of us are waiting for Thor to drop in with his hammer. We want change, but we are not willing to consider our responsibility to help bring it about. We are hoping that someone who has money and status to spare will use some of it to make the world better.”
“You’re Better Off Not Knowing.” In an essay for the Atlantic that parallels several of the arguments I make in my book on the news, Shadi Hamid diagnosis the consequences of over-consuming the news, particularly for those with progressive politics: “If there were a way to consume the news without catastrophizing it, then that could be one path forward. But progressives in particular have trouble doing so. For them, to be aware of the ills of the world is to feel compelled to speak and act—or at least to feel. If we can’t all go news free—which is difficult in the world as it is—we can, at the very least, establish a truce with the news. Information and knowledge can be—and often are—quite great. But they are not unqualified goods. Sometimes ignorance is, in fact, bliss.”
“Scruton’s Castle.” Carl Trueman reviews a recent collection of Roger Scruton’s columns and occasional pieces and highlights his consistent attention to location: “The question of place, rather than of one’s relationship to the means of production, increasingly defines our political situation, from the question of immigration to that of geographical inequality and rural poverty. If our political class determinedly ignores the importance of place, that is thanks in part—yet again—to social media, which has made communication less and less about real relationships taking place in real places in real time, and more about disembodied interactions taking place in a virtual space that exists nowhere and everywhere at the same time.”
“The Statesman of Democracy.” Jon D. Schaff reviews A Nation So Conceived by Michael P. Zuckert and considers how Lincoln’s understanding of democracy might apply to parallel debates today: “Not wishing to align with the severest critics of ‘David Frenchism,’ and certainly not conscripting Zuckert for their cause, there is something to the argument that we must judge the substance of democratic decision-making, not designating a democratic outcome “good” simply because it followed a certain process. Lincoln, Zuckert seems to be arguing, believes the democratic processes are necessary but not sufficient for a just government.”
“A Humanism of the Abyss.” Alan Jacobs revisits Oliver Sacks’s book Awakenings and considers how modern medicine works to delimit persons in ways which evacuate us of our humanity: “humanism — properly understood, properly chastened — forcefully repudiates the tyranny of categories.”
“Seer of the Selfie.” Darran Anderson reads Christopher Lasch’s classic and finds plenty of reasons why Lasch remains widely read and discussed: “upon rereading The Culture of Narcissism, it’s clear that Lasch’s wisdom was less predictive than diagnostic. It is not a question of what some outside force might instill in people so much as how it would amplify and distort what already resides within us. Lasch … saw through and past the vagaries and hubris of his present to recognize age-old patterns of behavior that would join the past and future. This is one of many reasons that he was politically dissident in character, rejecting all-embracing ideas of both tradition and progress.”
“Cultivating Community.” Amy Lewis profiles the Bruderhof community in Australia: “The Bruderhof cares for the land. The land sustains the animals, which in turn provide for the community. It’s a holistic approach that mirrors the interdependence woven through the life these believers choose to live together.”
“Biden’s Climate Betrayal.” Ryan Cooper describes the Willow oil drilling project just approved by the federal government: “During the 2020 campaign, Biden specifically promised not to do this, saying ‘no more drilling on federal lands, period.’ In office he’s actually approved drilling leases at a faster pace than Donald Trump.”
“My Southern Garden.” Brian Miller shares his gardening philosophy and lists what he’s getting ready to plant this spring.
“How Evangelicals Became Climate Skeptics.” Bonnie Kristian traces some of the interweaving currents that have shaped climate politics among American evangelical Christians.
“US Regulators are Setting a Dangerous Precedent on Silicon Valley Bank.” Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, questions the decision to bail out SVB and warns that it may serve to further centralizing the banking industry: “regulators will have to pick and choose who they want to help. If there are more failures, who are they going to bail out next? Anyone over $100bn? What about community banks? If they create a perception that $100bn is the new “systemic” cut-off, uninsured deposits will surely flee community banks for those in the $100bn club.”
“The Ghost of Ancient Rome Haunts America.” Joel Kotkin imagines a future in which many of America’s large urban centers decay: “what is the urban future? The answer lies less in the central business districts than the suburbs and exurbs. And this presents a nightmare for the traditional urbanist. In contrast to central business districts, suburban offices have fared far better while sprawled areas such as Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Austin and Nashville have become the nation’s hottest office markets.” (Recommended by Martin Schell.)
“Can There Be a Conservative Futurism?” In the New Atlantis, John Ehrett offers a provocative vision of conservative creativity, human creativity as participation in divine creativity: “What might a vision of technology “after” Big Tech look like? It is a future that draws this much from Fedorov: to speak of the presence of God in time is to glimpse an eternal light behind the shifting, tragic clouds of temporality. A conservative futurism must root itself in the principle of eternity, mirroring that divine timelessness where possible.”
“The ‘Mortuary Chic’ of Today’s Aspirational Kitchen.” Clare Coffey takes issue with designer kitchens and defends in their stead the lived-in kitchen: “The all-white kitchen, by nature, foregrounds and exacerbates every speck of dirt and every irregularity. It requires constant work—not the craft of cooking, but the unending labor of cleaning—to keep it fit to be seen. Its clean tranquility is fundamentally at odds with the household role of the kitchen as a dynamic theater of domestic life, work, and hospitality—and therefore of mess, dirt, leftovers, activity, and bustle. Mortuary chic is, unsurprisingly, inimical to the living.”