Russell Arben Fox grew up milking cows and bailing hay in Spokane Valley, WA, but now lives in Wichita, KS, where he runs the History & Politics and the Honors programs at Friends University, a small Christian liberal arts college. He aspires to write a book about the theory and practice of democracy, community, and environmental sustainability in small to mid-sized cities, like the one he has made his and his family's home. He also blogs--irregularly and usually at too-great a length--on politics, philosophy, religion, socialism, bicycling, books, farming, pop music, and whatever else strikes his fancy, at In Medias Res.
We academics unfortunately often fall into the trap of pride (particularly of the self-involved, self-satisfying, institutional kind), and hence a humbling such as this conference delivered was probably much needed. I have a Christian duty, as an educator and as a member of a Christian community, to think systematically about how I can live up, as a teacher and scholar, to the values of inclusion and equality
If you're looking intentionally at your locality, wanting to make it more just and more civil and more communal--with, say, better food practices, more responsible energy usage, and social arrangements premised upon love and respect rather than financial and racial advantage--well, that doesn't make you into a communard, fully engaged in the struggle to build a comprehensively new world. But it does mean, I think, that you share more with those inspired folk than you may think.
Holding up a sign, sitting at a lunch counter, sticking a flower in a gun, setting up a tent, and occupying a space in the face state and corporate power is an act of utopian belief and faith. A belief, to go back to Berry's insight above, that something may not be--and should not be accepted as being--an economic, and therefore social, inevitability.
Uprooted is partly a memoir of her extended family, partly a paean to a way of life that is both dying and which she never really understood while she grew up in the midst of it (and thus feels the loss of all the more deeply now), and partly a study of the causes of that dying, and how what has endured--the habits, the connections, the sense of place--has shaped her extended family nonetheless.
The Cult of Smart is deeply entrenched in most modern systems of public education around the world, and the increasingly clear reality of cognitive and genetic differences between different human beings poses a sharp challenge to liberals whose membership in the Cult makes them want to deny this reality entirely.