I’ll be logging off the internet for a few weeks and thus pausing these Water Dippers. I aim to resume them in early August. In the meantime, make plans to join us in Grand Rapids this October for our fall conference. Registration is now open.

What Pope Francis and Ivan Illich Prioritize in Common: Anti-clericialism, the Global South and the Cry of the Poor.” Elias Crim surveys the growing interest in Ivan Illich and suggests some of the reasons for the recent attention to him: “I recently suggested to a thoughtful Catholic friend that he read Cayley’s biography as an introduction to Illich’s ideas. Encountering my friend a few weeks later, he thanked me, adding simply, ‘It has changed my life.’”

I’m Trading My Career for Motherhood. Neither Will Fulfill Me.” Sophia Lee writes movingly about the ways that vital goods can be warped by human sin: “I love our son fiercely, deeply. But I don’t find motherhood fulfilling; and yet work doesn’t feel fulfilling either. Perhaps it never was, because even before I became a mother, I remember spending each birthday feeling anxious as another year passed, my 20s receding into my late 30s, feeling as hungry as I had been back with anorexia, with the hollow dissatisfaction that I was not as accomplished or as influential as I wanted to be. Fulfillment is such a first-world, 21st-century problem to worry about, something we hear often: Is my marriage fulfilling? Is my career fulfilling? Is my friendship fulfilling? . . . . This is not a female problem. It’s a human problem.”

Failure to Thrive.” Brian Miller considers the difference between animals that look good and those that thrive on a working farm: “Animals that win ribbons are often very different than production animals.”

Will Republicans Save the Humanities?” Jenna Silber Storey and Benjamin Storey write for the Chronicle of Higher Education about the boom in humanities hiring by public universities in red states: “Criticism of these new programs is both understandable and premature. Most of them have just been founded and have yet to demonstrate exactly how they intend to fulfill the mandates that have set them in motion. They have not had time to create a track record by which they might be judged, and they will each develop in different ways. For now, understanding the motivations of the faculty members who join them may be the best way to discern where those programs are headed.”

‘Too many old people’: A Rural Pa. Town Reckons with Population Loss.” Tim Craig visits a small—and shrinking—town not far from where I live: “Across rural Pennsylvania, there is a deepening sense of fear about the future as population loss accelerates. The sharp decline has put the state at the forefront of a national discussion on the viability of the small towns that have long been a pillar of American culture.”

AI is Exhausting the Power Grid. Tech Firms are Seeking a Miracle Solution.” Evan Halper and Caroline O’Donovan look at the gap between tech companies’ ambitions for clean energy and the reality of AI’s power demands: “the voracious electricity consumption of artificial intelligence is driving an expansion of fossil fuel use—including delaying the retirement of some coal-fired plants. In the face of this dilemma, Big Tech is going all-in on experimental clean energy projects that have long odds of success anytime soon. In addition to fusion, tech giants are hoping to generate power through such futuristic schemes as small nuclear reactors hooked to individual computing centers and machinery that taps geothermal energy by boring 10,000 feet into the Earth’s crust.”

Family Matters.” Joshua Pauling reviews Rory Groves’s new book: “To help families grasp what has changed historically in how we think about the family and to help families consider practical steps they might take to build a stronger family economy, whether they live in the country, the city, or in between, Groves has written a new book entitled The Family Economy: Discovering the Family as it was Designed to Work. It’s a short manifesto of sorts that clearly explains the shift from the family being the center of productivity and economic life to the individual being the primary economic unit.”

A Review of Painting Over the Grow Chart by Dan Rattelle.” Steve Knepper reviews these poems and situates them in the New England tradition of regional poetry: “Rattelle has not only visited New England’s literary landscape. He has charted a few new fields and thickets in it.”

Michael Oakeshott’s Life of Reflection.” Elizabeth Corey reviews Timothy Fuller’s Michael Oakeshott on the Human Condition: “Anyone who has been deeply influenced by Oakeshott is likely to take from him equanimity, an appreciation of intrinsic goods, skepticism about the promises of politics, the desire for a significant intellectual life, and a disposition to value the most human things, like conversation, friendship, and love.”

What Will Become of American Civilization?” In a cover story for the Atlantic, George Packer looks at Phoenix as a microcosm of America: “Growth keeps coming at a furious pace, despite decades of drought, and despite political extremism that makes every election a crisis threatening violence. Democracy is also a fragile artifice. It depends less on tradition and law than on the shifting contents of individual skulls—belief, virtue, restraint. Its durability under natural and human stress is being put to an intense test in the Valley. And because a vision of vanishing now haunts the whole country, Phoenix is a guide to our future.”

Apocalypse Now: The Revolt Against Auto-Genocide.” Samuel Loncar reviews Adam Kirsch’s The Revolt Against Humanity: Imagining a Future Without Us and probes the spiritual roots of the crises Kirsch identifies: “Anthropocene antihumanism and transhumanism seek the end of humanity. They are auto-genocidal philosophies that enable radical policy programs for auto-extermination, and it is our self-extermination that is the source of their debate. . . . These two ways of thinking stem from modern liberal modes of thought and comprise a revolt against humanity that is, as Kirsch says, a ‘spiritual development of the first order.’ As a liberal humanist, he has no easy response to either view, but he’s right that is a significant spiritual development.” Unfortunately, Loncar repeats as fact Kirsch’s bad misreading of a key plot point in The Overstory; botanist Patricia Westerford does not commit suicide, and the novel by no means conveys a simplistic message that “trees are morally superior to humans.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


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