Roasting Marshmallows at the Apocalypse

[A review of Nothing to Vote For: The Futility of the American Electoral Process, by Daniel Schwindt]One of the more misguided, even destructive projects of our hyper-merchandized culture is the labeling of entire generations into Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, etc. As though our society needed yet another mechanism for dividing ourselves from each other, especially via stereotypes based on shopping. As an example of the crudity of these generational labels, I offer the example of my … [Read more...]

Lights Coming Back on in Gary

I knew my involvement in civic matters in northwest Indiana would eventually take me to Gary, about 25 miles from my town of Valparaiso. As I’ve driven along Interstate 90 heading to and from Chicago, I’ve often peered down from the expressway into the city’s empty streets and dilapidated neighborhoods. For many long-time residents of the area, the town’s very name is an epithet for a landscape of failure and fear where it’s thought that no one stays who can find a way to leave. I admit I have no … [Read more...]

What I Saw on the Porch

In temporary relief from the ongoing telenovella of our impending national election, we habitues of the Front Porch Republic met up last weekend at the architecture building on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for a daylong celebration of "place, limits, liberty." These annual shmoozefests are always a delight, given the wonderful mix of temperaments and the high degree of literacy displayed everywhere. Amidst a certain Spenglerian gloom, hilarity is always breaking out, I dunno quite h … [Read more...]

Turning America Around

In 1976, the evangelical church of my youth celebrated the bicentennial of American independence. Since my dad was the pastor and my mother the music director, my brothers and I were often pressed into service as singers. For our big Independence Day service, I was given the following song, titled “Statue of Liberty,” to sing, which I did with conviction:In New York Harbor stands a lady, With a torch raised to the sky; And all who see her know she stands for Liberty for you and me.I’m … [Read more...]

A Saint for a New Socioeconomic Order

Saints, G.K. Chesterton once pointed out, are an antidote to whatever the age neglects. Such figures restore the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever it has overlooked.In today’s world of Trumpism, our little band here at the Dorothy Option is arguing that a large dose of Dorothy Day is long overdo for American society. But just as Chesterton juxtaposed brilliantly St. Francis and St. Thomas, the more to underline their complementarity, so we might propose a figure (also with a cause for … [Read more...]

Junger’s Hunger, And Ours

A couple of years ago, I took some members of a large Rwandan refugee family to a St. Vincent de Paul store nearby. I was accompanied by a Rwandan friend and translator, Jeanette Akimiyimana, herself a refugee who has been in the United States for ten years. As we pulled away from the triple decker where the family had been placed, Jeanette began to chat with one of the teenaged girls in Kinyarwanda, the principal language of Rwanda. Before long they were laughing and the pace of conversation had … [Read more...]

Preparing for President Trump

What I’m about write is not an exercise in partisan advocacy. I belong to neither of the dominant political parties in the United States, which I consider to be two dead ends in the same blind alley. Nor do I belong to any other party. Nor do I consider myself a member of the Right or the Left. Nor do I appropriate for myself meaningless labels like liberal and conservative.No, this is not a partisan statement. But it is deeply political. The notion that any thinking, believing, and p … [Read more...]

Book Review: “Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People”

I write today for the purpose of recommending “Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People,” the latest book from Plough Publishing. Edited and introduced by Charles Moore, with a foreword by Stanley Hauerwas, “Called to Community” is an essential collection of 82 essays and perspectives on the broad themes of a call to community, forming community, life in community, and engaging the world through community.Plough Publishing is an arm of the Bruderhof (“place of brothers”), an A … [Read more...]

Can We Just Grow Jobs?

Those of you who know me know I have a few hobby horses I come back to rock on whenever I get the chance. Montessori education. Gardening. Homesteading depopulated upper mid-western cities. Food. Urbanism.I'm back onto homesteading cities today. I've advocated in the past for something like an Urban Homesteading Act. While I still think that or something like it needs to happen, the problem with folks just moving wholesale to American rust belt cities is that there are no or sharply limited … [Read more...]

Boxed In

A few years ago, my wife and I were assigned a case through our local conference of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul. It involved a family – Dave, his girlfriend Ellen and their three small children* – who had fallen behind on their rent and electricity bill. When we met with the family, Dave explained that he was a full-time employee of Home Depot. He had moved to southern New England from Maine when Home Depot offered him a position as manager of a department at the local store. The position o … [Read more...]