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76 minutes | Oct 19, 2021
#17 Beyond Borders, Part 5: Christian Nationalism
Peter and Susannah discuss Christian nationalism, and whether there might be a good version of this thing which so many books have recently been at pains to dismiss. They also talk about the reality of the bad version: Christianity which is nothing more than a tribal signifier.Then they talk about Oscar Romero as a potential model for an “integralism” which would be attractive to both Anabaptists and Roman Catholics.Russell Moore comes on to discuss the church’s own infidelity as a cause of plummeting enrollment, and Susannah presses him on what the relationship of church and state ought to be.Transcript: www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/politics/ploughcast-episode-17-christian-nationalism-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly
57 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
#16 Beyond Borders, Part 4, The End of Rage: Prison & Radicalism
In 1972, Russell Maroon Shoatz went to prison for the murder of a police officer. He spent 29 years in solitary confinement. Ashley Lucas, whose own father was imprisoned when she was growing up, reported and wrote a deep-dive piece on Shoatz’s life, his ongoing activism on behalf of Black liberation, and his relationship with his family.Pete and Susannah speak with Ashley about the process of writing the piece, and about the various issues that Shoatz’s life and story bring up. Can we acknowledge the wrongness of the murder, the pain of the murdered man’s family, and at the same time see the man behind the convict?The episode also features Russell’s son, Russell III. He tells the story of the two fathers in his life: the imprisoned former Black Panther, and the police officer/minister who adopted him.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/criminal-justice/ploughcast-episode-16-the-end-of-rage-prison-and-radicalism
56 minutes | Oct 5, 2021
#15 Beyond Borders, Part 3: On Rooted Cosmopolitanism
Peter and Susannah welcome Tara Isabella Burton and Dhananjay Jagannathan to discuss the intersections of their recent pieces. Tara’s cosmopolitan upbringing led her to yearn for the connectedness of place, and yet she’s cautious about the potential dark side of that chthonic urge.Meanwhile, Dhananjay’s immigrant story and thoughtful loyalty to the America of the American idea will not let him dismiss patriotism.Then, John Milbank brings us to the deepest of deep roots, with a full-throated defense of a nation that is linked to a place, and which is not based on an idea. His piece is a hymn to the mythic geography of England.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/immigration/ploughcast-episode-15-on-rooted-cosmopolitanism
55 minutes | Sep 28, 2021
#14 Beyond Borders, Part 2: Empire and its Discontents
Peter and Susannah speak with novelist, journalist, and Iraq vet Phil Klay about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the folly of nation-building, and the promise of soft power. Then they welcome historian Tom Holland, author of Dominion, to discuss the difference Christianity made to the mind of the West and the idea of Empire. What is the unique capacity Christianity has for appealing to both fighters and pacifists? How have those two strands in its history woven together, and what can we make of the profound subversion of Roman ideals of power represented by the Cross?And in what sense can virtually every person in what was once Christendom call him or herself a Christian? Wokeness, Holland claims, can best be understood as a Christian heresy; Hitler, the head of the first movement to thoroughly repudiate Christianity not just institutionally but in principle, becomes a substitute for Satan. And we begin to look to the most marginalized, the most powerless, as Christ figures. Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/nonviolence/ploughcast-episode-14-empire-and-its-discontents
62 minutes | Sep 21, 2021
#13 Beyond Borders, Part 1: One Cheer for the Nation-State
Are national cultures something God values? What do we owe the sojourner? And is there something to this idea of Christendom? In this episode of The PloughCast, Peter and Susannah talk about Peter’s lead editorial’s controversial anti-Esperanto take, the perils and joys of Christian nationalism, and whether it’s coherent for an Anabaptist to be in favor of the idea of Christendom.Then, they welcome Plough’s favorite integralist, Pater Edmund Waldstein, to discuss his piece on the natural law case for welcoming refugees, what relationship that has to the Gospel imperative to do so, and how to think about those obligations in relationship to the integrity of the cultures and places and people who receive those sojourners.Also covered: Gustav Landauer’s surprising atheist Jewish anarchist pro-Christendom position, the relationship between the nation and the political state, and how to think about national borders.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/immigration/ploughcast-episode-13-one-cheer-for-the-nation-state Recommended Reading: Peter Mommsen, “On Not Learning Esperanto” Pater Edmund Waldstein, “When Migrants Come Knocking: What Natural Law Demands”
11 minutes | Aug 17, 2021
The PloughRead: Behold the Mandalorian by Josh Seligman
Father–son relationships in The Mandalorian and Return of the Jedi sagas illustrate meekness as a healthy model for manhood.Manly Virtues by Noah Van Niel: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/community/leadership/manly-virtues
19 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
The PloughRead: More Fish Than Sauce by Iván Bernal Marín
Beneath Panama City’s gleaming skyscrapers, traditional fishermen still venture out to sea for a hard-won catch.
9 minutes | Aug 3, 2021
The PloughRead: Return to Idaho by Gracy Olmstead
“When I went back to Idaho, I connected with more than just the land.” An excerpt from Gracy Olmstead’s Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind.
14 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
The PloughRead: Writing in the Sand by Christian Wiman
Christian Wiman reads the parable of Jesus writing in the sand as poetry, and unpacks poetry of doubt and faith by Yehuda Amichai, Kay Ryan, and Les Murray.
29 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
The PloughRead: Love in the Marketplace by Mary Harrington
Mary Harrington on what’s for sale on online dating sites.
24 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
The PloughRead: Ernest Becker and Our Fear of Death by Kelsey Osgood
In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker says it’s in our nature to fear death – and to transcend that fear of death through faith.
52 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
#12 Creatures, Part 6: Can Nature Be Evil? and Other Listener Questions
Peter and Susannah address listener questions. First, what do we make of natural evil? Things like parasites seem to call into question the idea of nature as designed by a loving God. What’s the relationship of the fall of man to the theodicy of cicada-killing wasps?Then they turn to the question of the nature of online worlds. Can we talk coherently about the nature of Twitter, say? What does the way we behave online say about us? Is online a “place” with its own identity?Next: Why not let children be feral? What’s the point of school, and doesn’t it just ruin our ability to be naturally and fully human? Related to that, why read anything but scripture? Then, they return to the question of UFOs: if they were proved to exist, would their existence affect Peter and Susannah’s faith?Finally, they turn to the big questions: what is nature anyway? And what have they learned from doing this podcast series? What are their takeaways?Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-12-can-nature-be-evil-and-other-listener-questionsRecommended Reading: Rutger Bregman, “The Real Life Lord of the Flies,” The Guardian C. S. Lewis, The Space Trilogy The PloughCast #7: Dogs, Ross Douthat, and UFOs, Plough “The Glory of the Creatures,” Plough The PloughCast #8: Animal Slaughter, Online Dating, and Embodiment, Plough The PloughCast #9: Sohrab Ahmari, Ernest Becker, and the Meaning of Tradition, Plough The PloughCast #10: Amish Regenerative Agriculture and Transhumanist Medicine, Plough The PloughCast #11: Putting Down Roots in Idaho and Australia, Plough Ian Marcus Corbin, “The Abyss of Beauty,” Plough Gracy Olmstead, “Return to Idaho,” Plough Gracy Olmstead, Uprooted Edmund Waldstein, “The Lords of Nature,” Plough Peter Mommsen, “The Book of the Creatures,” Plough
51 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
#11 Creatures, Part 5: Gracy Olmstead on her book Uprooted and Norann Voll on putting down roots in Australia
Pete and Susannah speak with Gracy Olmstead about her new book Uprooted. In this age of unrootedness, what does it mean to have a home – to be from somewhere? Gracy’s book talks about her own story: her family’s farm in Idaho, and what it means to have that be an important part of her life, even though she’s moved away. Can she go back to the land her ancestors farmed?Gracy’s work has been fundamentally shaped by her friendship with Wendell Berry, and by Berry’s own work. Is his agrarianism mere romanticism? Can there be a kind of love of the local that is not agrarian?Then, the hosts speak with Norann Voll about her move from Upstate New York to rural Australia. How can we learn to love a new place? What does it look like to put down roots when you’re ambivalent about where you are?Norann also discusses the process by which the Danthonia Bruderhof has learned how to manage their land: to regenerate the soil and to create a fertile homeplace in the midst of the badlands.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-11-putting-down-roots-in-idaho-and-australiaRecommended Reading Gracy Olmstead, Uprooted Gracy Olmstead, “Return to Idaho,” Plough Gracy Olmstead and Joy Clarkson, “Return to Idaho Live Forum,” Plough Wendell Berry, “It All Turns on Affection,” 2012 Jefferson Lecture Robert Macfarlane, Landscapes Wendell Berry, Remembering Peter Mommsen, Susannah Black, John Kempf, “Amish Regenerative Agriculture and Transhumanist Medicine,” Ploughcast John Kempf, “Regenerative Agriculture,” Plough Norann Voll, “Shutdown Hospitality,” Plough Norann Voll, “Gratitude in a Time of Drought,” Plough Johannes Meier, “Beating the Big Dry,” Plough Adam Nicholson, “Into the Sussex Weald,” Plough Norann Voll, “Return to Vienna,” Plough
62 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
#10 Creatures, Part 4: Amish Regenerative Agriculture and Transhumanist Medicine
Pete and Susannah discuss Pater Edmund Waldstein’s piece “Lords of Nature.” What does it mean to respect the nature of human beings, including the integrity of their bodies? If we can reshape our own bodies and customize our children using new genetic technologies – should we? What does it look like to honor human nature rather than seek to dominate it?Then, the hosts speak with John Kempf about his piece “Regenerative Agriculture: An Amish Farmer’s Quest to Heal the Land.” What is regenerative agriculture? How is it distinguished from organic farming? Isn’t it more labor intensive, and doesn’t that mean that it will require some unrealistic percentage of people to return to farming? Above all, can it feed the world? Don’t we depend on high-input farming, complete with fertilizers and pesticides, to be able to produce as much as we do?Kempf makes a strong case that not only is regenerative agriculture – which seeks to rebuild soil health and plants’ own immune systems, as opposed to depending on chemical fertilizers and pesticides – the only kind of agriculture that will enable our farmland to feed many generations in the future, it’s also more productive now. And it honors the intricate interdependency of plant, animal, human, and microbial life that reflects the wisdom of the Creator.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-10-amish-regenerative-agriculture-and-transhumanist-medicineRecommended Reading John Kempf, “Regenerative Agriculture,” Plough Edmund Waldstein, “The Lords of Nature,” Plough Nicanor Austriaco, “Begotten Not Made,” Plough Pope Francis, Laudato si’ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Joel Salatin, “Behold the Glory of Pigs,” Plough Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities Maureen Swinger, “My Forest Education,” Plough Claudio Oliver, “Becoming a Rooted Church,” Plough Claudio Oliver, “The Unplanned Church,” Plough Claudio Oliver, “Letter from Brazil: Mutation Time,” Plough Tobias Jones, “Captivated by the First Church,” Plough Jane Jacobs, “Sidewalk Ballet,” Plough Leah Libresco, “Let the Body Testify,” Plough Leah Libresco, “Dependence,” Plough John Kempf, The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast Joel Salatin, Fields of Farmers
51 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
#9 Creatures, Part 3: Sohrab Ahmari, Ernest Becker, and the Meaning of Tradition
Pete and Susannah discuss Kelsey Osgood’s piece on Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death. How did Becker, as a Jew struggling through secularism, face the fact of our slavery to the fear of death - and how did his refusal of the cold comforts of distraction open the way for real meaning to emerge?Then, the hosts speak with friend of the pod Sohrab Ahmari, about his recent book The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.The traditions we are raised to respect shape us. How did the birth of Ahmari’s son encourage him to write a book wrestling with the ways that traditions can help answer some of the basic questions of human life? What does it mean to be rooted in tradition, and why would one want to be? What happens when traditions are bad? And how can we understand “traditionalism” not as a good in itself, not as a bespoke lifestyle choice, but as the guiderails of a community in which we, and our children, can flourish?Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-9-sohrab-ahmari-ernest-becker-and-the-meaning-of-traditionRecommended Reading Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death Kelsey Osgood, “Ernest Becker and our Fear of Death” Martin Hägglund, This Life Sohrab Ahmari, The Unbroken Thread Josef Pieper, Guide to Thomas Aquinas
45 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
#8 Creatures, Part 2: Animal Slaughter, Online Dating, and Embodiment
Peter and Susannah talk about Mary Harrington’s piece on the business of online dating. What happens when butchering is removed from the marketplace? And what are we doing when we swipe right on someone, treating him or her as a commodity which might or might not pass muster?Then they talk with Plough contributing editor Leah Libresco Sargeant about her piece “Let the Body Testify.” Are we disembodied wills unrelated to our bodies, using them as meat robots? Or are we embodied souls whose selfhood persists even if we are unable to advocate for ourselves?Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-8-animal-slaughter-online-dating-and-embodimentRecommended Reading Mary Harrington, Love in the Marketplace, Plough Leah Libresco, “Dependence: Towards an Illiberalism of the Weak,” Plough Leah Libresco, Atar Hadari, Peter Mommsen, Noah Van Niel: Dependence (recorded discussion) Leah Libresco and Jennifer Frey: Illiberal Feminism (recorded discussion) Leah Libresco, “Let the Body Testify,” Plough Leah Libresco, “Let the Body Testify” live forum (upcoming discussion) Emma Hartley, Why Do So Many Teenage Girls Want to Change Gender?, Prospect Gracy Olmstead, “The Risk of Gentleness,” Plough
67 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
#7 Creatures, Part 1: Dogs, Ross Douthat, and UFOs
Can nature teach us how to live, or is the universe random and meaningless? In the first episode of The PloughCast’s new 6-part series about nature and creatures, Susannah quizzes Peter about his dog Hektor, who plays a starring role in Peter’s Plough editorial “The Book of Creatures.” They discuss the evolution of dogs, especially the way dogs’ faces have evolved to hack into human emotions of tenderness – and ask whether this should make us more cynical about nature, or more open to the possibility that it is freighted with meaning and purpose.The imprisoned Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, not a religious believer, nevertheless had a mystical experience of nature that changed his life. The Boston writer Ian Marcus Corbin tells Havel’s story in an ambitious Plough essay “The Abyss of Beauty,” which the hosts discuss, prompting Susannah to describe her own, distinctly urban, version Havel’s conversion experience.The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat then joins The PloughCast for a wide-ranging discussion of nature-related topics. First up is a debate whether there is such a thing as natural law, and if there is, why it fails to move public opinion on controversial questions such as bioethics. Ross then recounts his personal story of the dark side of nature: a harrowing experience of long-term Lyme disease which led him to write his forthcoming book The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery (October 2021).On a lighter note, Ross agrees to talk about the paranormal: UFOs (now also known as UAPs or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), space aliens, and alien abductions. What are we to make of the US military’s recent official confirmation of UFO sightings? Are aliens part of the natural world, or are they supernatural – perhaps the same beings formerly called fairies and elves? Finally, an important warning: Don’t anger the Good People.Episode Transcript: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/ploughcast-episode-7-dogs-ross-douthat-and-ufosRecommendations Peter Mommsen, editorial essay, “The Book of the Creatures” Fr. Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, “The Book of Nature: Origin and Development of the Metaphor” Ian Marcus Corbin, “The Abyss of Beauty” O. Carter Snead, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics Ross Douthat, “Flying Saucers and Other Fairy Tales” Ross Douthat, May 2019 Twitter thread on UFOs
21 minutes | May 25, 2021
The PloughRead: Let the Body Testify by Leah Libresco Sargeant
Leah Libresco Sargeant offers a feminist critique of how modern society pushes women to change their bodies, in an essay that also covers anorexia, surrogacy, gender bias in medicine, and gender dysmorphia.
10 minutes | May 21, 2021
The PloughRead: The Minimalist by Springs Toledo
Springs Toledo on his defeat to and friendship with the boxer Stonewall Strickland.
17 minutes | May 18, 2021
The PloughRead: Call to Prayer, Call to Bread by Rachel Pieh Jones
Eighteen years among Somali Muslims in the Horn of Africa have taught an American Christian that Islam’s five pillars apply to Christianity as well. In this excerpt from a new Plough book, Pillars, she describes what she has learned about one of these five pillars, prayer.
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