Front Porch Republic

Place. Limits. Liberty.

Front Porch Republic

Front Porch Republic
We live in a world characterized by a flattened culture and increasingly meaningless freedoms. Little regard is paid to the necessity for those overlapping local and regional groups, communities, and associations that provide a matrix for human flourishing. We’re in a bad way, and the spokesmen and spokeswomen of both our Left and our Right are, for the most part, seriously misguided in their attempts to provide diagnoses, let alone solutions.


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JULY 2, 2009 7:39AM

Can’t Buy Me Love

The folks at First Things have been kind enough to ignore my lame punning and respond to some of my criticisms, which has resulted in some helpful progress on examining certain features of our identity starved, sanitized, homogenized, and sterile cultural landscape.  This reminds me to say that I th… Read full post »

JULY 2, 2009 7:01AM

Justice and Community

The conversation between Rusty Reno, Jody Bottum, Caleb Stegall and now me prompted me to link a recent post from “What I Saw In America” in response to a reader reply who had charged localism with insufficient attentiveness to justice. Since, in the context of this conversation, my argu… Read full post »


Joe Carter, managing editor of First Things, has been gracious enough to put up with my jokes at his boss’s expense, so forthwith, I offer the following as the more serious (but still less than serious serious) response (which Joe was hoping for) to Jody Bottum’s writing on the alRead full post »


Wichita, KS

In honor of Canada Day, in the fine federation (though these days, in the eyes of a majority of Canadians, less a federation than an Americanized nation, or at best a “multinational” country) to our north, here’s an old post of mine, written soon after Stephen Ha… Read full post »



“Each generation exercises power over its successors,†said C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, “and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors.â€

It… Read full post »

JUNE 30, 2009 7:02PM

Will Wendell Be Jailed?


Claremont, CA. Wendell Berry, writer and farmer and hero to the people, might move from the farmhouse to the big house.

Speaking at one of the USDA’s National Identification System (NAIS) “listening sessions,” Berry told the crowd that he would go to jail if the NAIS - the &Read full post »

JUNE 30, 2009 11:02AM

The Old School

My review of Jonathan Zimmerman’s Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory appears in today’s Wall Street Journal (”In One Room, Many Advantages”). The book is well worth reading.  Among other things, I learned that Gus Edwards, composer of the grating… Read full post »

JUNE 30, 2009 11:01AM

Carolina is for Pig-Lovers


BURNED-OVER DISTRICT, NY–Here comes the Fourth, and instead of asking why Americans revolted against remote authority in 1776 yet countenance it today, let us now praise picnics and beer and baseball and illegal fireworks. Via First Principles, herewith my review of a choice cut of gust… Read full post »


[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Wichita, KS

Blogger though I am, I can’t deny that there is a major advantage to arguments conducted through the slower media of paper (to say nothing of peer-reviewed publishing): because the length of time between claims and counter-claims is longer, it… Read full post »

In the current economic and political crisis, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is not likely to be one of the first places that Americans go looking for wisdom. It should be. Throughout the book readers find a wealth of knowledge and practical wisdom about what is necessary to live a happ… Read full post »

JUNE 29, 2009 12:17AM

C’mon Do the Pomocomotion With Me

A few impressions on the state of play.

1.  Agree with JMW that this exchange has not been very helpful, and reiterate first thought that “comments” maximize tedium and minimize conviviality.

2.  Then again, I’m sure the exchange is encouraging a healthy hit count, which i… Read full post »

JUNE 26, 2009 10:58AM

FPR v. PoMoCon, Part Deux


Some heat and even some light have been generated in the numerous comments that followed upon my original posting in which I threw some gauntlets around.  However, some inevitable reductionism has taken place (on all sides), and so I tried to actually put some substance on the bones of an… Read full post »

JUNE 25, 2009 2:55PM

Southern Adulteration


Devon, PA.  I have had only a few hours to appreciate the spectacle of talking-heads devouring the carrion of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s political career, but have heard thrice times already a rather predictable denunciation from rather predictable quarters.  The necessary… Read full post »

econ growth

Cold Spring, NY–It’s getting worse and worse, and the wizards don’t have a clue. They don’t even know the economy is broken-and can’t be fixed. That’s why they keep doing more of the same with the same old solutions and same old people.

Nothing could be mor… Read full post »

JUNE 25, 2009 8:00AM

Talking Chicken


New Castle, Kentucky.  “Simplify, simplify,” said Henry David Thoreau in one of his more peaceable moments, and I repeat it through gritted teeth as I watch the layered complexity that is Mr. Obama’s solution for all the many crises he has inherited.  We want to think/… Read full post »

JUNE 24, 2009 6:00AM

Capitalism as an Unnatural System

Ever since capitalism made its appearance in the late Middle Ages and came to dominate both production and politics in the late 18th century, there has been a vigorous debate on just what the nature of capitalism is. Central to these debates has been the question of capitalism’s relatio… Read full post »



Setting: Flahtsum College, located somewhere near a damn on a major river in the Midwest town of Flahtsum. Liberal Arts. Tuition-Driven. Motto: In Farrago Veritas. Mascot: Carp. Student Body: 1,700. Popular majors: business, pre-physical therapy, pre-nursing,… Read full post »

Holland, MI. Like many readers, or perhaps more accurately, like many readers with children, I read with great interest Mark Mitchell’s piece on “Cultivating Gratitude.†As the father of three children I have long made such cultivation a central concern, but must confess only middling sRead full post »

JUNE 22, 2009 10:57AM

Robert Nisbet’s Quest


Seattle, WA    Robert Nisbet’s 1953 book The Quest for Community has rightfully achieved that rare and estimable status of “classic.”     What Nisbet saw more clearly than most of his contemporaries  - or ours - is that one of the deepest flaws of the modern era wa… Read full post »

JUNE 22, 2009 9:32AM

Searching for a Usable Past


JEFFERSON COUNTY, KANSAS.  My review of Richard Quinney’s Of Time and Place, originally published in the University Bookman:

The American experience has always existed in tension with, if not outright hostility towards, the strictures of time and place. By the very nature of its settle… Read full post »

JUNE 19, 2009 6:57AM

Descartes, Algebra, and Alienation


Democratizing eighth-grade algebra promotes social justice. (Brookings Institution)

Money, mechanization, algebra. The three monsters of contemporary civilization. Complete analogy. (Simone Weil)

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but odds are that not… Read full post »

JUNE 18, 2009 3:46PM

Play Ball! Tell Stories!


BURNED-OVER DISTRICT, NY—The Muckdogs open tonight against the cursed Auburn Doubledays. It’s seventy years now that we’ve had a professional baseball team in Batavia, and no one knows more about what has happened on and off the field during those three score and ten than BiRead full post »


Rock Island, IL

Evidence that some students really are flagellants: I was asked to address the ODK inductees this year. Herewith, a short bit of speechification (with the opening jokes and throat-clearing omitted):

As a man grows older he sometimes feels compelled to impart some useful bit… Read full post »

Montreal, QC. Over the past decade or so, I’ve noticed a disclaimer that’s issued during the credits of television shows and movies involving live animals. They always reassure us that ‘no animals were harmed during the production of this program or film.’ Well, my wife, two daughte… Read full post »

JUNE 17, 2009 1:00PM

Is the Devil From Paris?


Irving, Texas. Is the devil from Paris? Many people seem to think so. And if not the devil himself, then at least a particular demon, one whose name is not “Legion†but “Postmodernism.†Postmodernism is a philosophical movement that originates largely with a legion of Frenchmen, three… Read full post »