Reviews

Reviews of books, films, TV shows, and websites.

Star spangled collapse

Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr.

Apparently, people who write titles for politico-military thrillers about nuclear brinksmanship find the language of The Star Spangled Banner just too good to resist. It must be the power of dark irony, to turn words of patriotic celebration into a warning for patriots. For example: Twilight's Last Gleaming is a 1977 drama starring Burt Lancaster as a renegade air force general who takes over a … [Read more...]

Soil erosion may get us before climate change does

Syrian ruins

Outside the entrance of the glorious Hall of Western History are the marble lions, colorful banners, and huge stone columns. Step inside, and the popular exhibits include ancient Egypt, classical Greece, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, Gutenberg, Magellan, Columbus, Galileo, and so on. If we cut a hole in the fence, and sneak around to the rear of the building, we find the dumpsters, derelicts, … [Read more...]

A two-century fight for the small, the local and the beautiful

Wendell Berry

Twentieth-century America witnessed the blossoming of Agrarianism as an intellectual and cultural movement. Its roots lay within the mythos of the early American Republic, which cast the self-sufficient yeoman farm family as the foundation of ordered liberty. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1785: Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most … [Read more...]

Overpopulation and the Ostrich Factor

overpopulation

Garrett Hardin was a lad who not only thought a lot, but could also think well. I recently discovered a Hardin book I had not heard of, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (1998). Hardin was an interesting blend of an ecological conservative, and a growth-hating political conservative who detested economists. I hoped that this book would provide fresh insights on the huge and difficult … [Read more...]

Jesus, pioneer of voluntary poverty

Picture of the Holy Family

Note: This article is an excerpt reprinted with permission of the publisher from Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future, a collection of essays profiling key historical figures whose lives served as examples of living simply. Bible references are to the New International Version (NIV) -- Ed. A clear theme throughout Jesus’ ministry was the conflict between seeking God and … [Read more...]

As Americans flee suburbs, big cities aren’t their only destination

Suburbia by emilykneeter/Flickr.

Something historic happened in America after the housing crash. For the first time in about a century, cities began growing faster than suburbs. As Leigh Gallagher puts it in The End of the Suburbs, According to census data, population growth in outer suburbs, which had been the engine of residential growth for much of the 2000s, ground to a near halt from 2010 to 2011, increasing by just 0.4 … [Read more...]

Novel targets climate science deniers

Photo: b k/Flickr.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway are science historians, and they are hopping mad at folks who deny that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Their outrage inspired them to write The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, which has sold furiously in its first month on the market. It’s a 112-page science fiction rant. The story is a discourse on the Penumbral Age … [Read more...]

Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow and the loving community

Photo: Pen Waggener/Flickr.

What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection.  There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody...It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointed in its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, … [Read more...]

‘Snowpiercer’ off the rails

Tilda Swinton is from the government but she's not here to help in Snowpiercer.

In portraying environmental issues, film has proven its unique power to influence public sentiment. A standout example is The China Syndrome, a 1979 anti-nuclear thriller released mere days before the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor plant accident made front-page news. The 2012 feature film The Promised Land brought to audiences images, ideas and emotions about the fracking controversy. So … [Read more...]

In the face of collapse, neither polyanna nor doomer

collapsed pyramid

Carolyn Baker writes with passion, insight and courage about a topic that most people turn away from – the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspect of what she and many others call "collapse." Collapse is the convergence in our times of economic unraveling, resource depletion and human created climate instability that could bring the destruction of the world economy, major governments or … [Read more...]