The short version of a very long blog post is that there's a lot of really good stuff already out there:
* The Front Porch Republic, for example. This piece by David Walbert hits home for this blog; the notion that food has become such a divisive topic--too much like religion now?--alludes to that opening theme of "thirst" I mentioned. Without trying to hammer Walbert, there's a problem with so much blogosphere hand-wringing over ethical practice. Concerns about food porn are real and legitimately voice, but the problem is that almost everybody who makes and heeds such arguments has blind spots: the academic conference where we prattle over elite menus and choose snobby microbrews just like everybody else in our group. The inverse food porn parallel holds, too, I think: almost every academic fretting over organic food will, at times, tackle the cheap pizza and canned beer just like anybody else. I.e., what used to be called "slumming" -- except in food now.
Another favorite FPR topic: sense of place as in this by Patrick Deneen. I figured among the many applauding Deneen's departure of Georgetown for South Bend. The blog link also hammers the faux elitism of so many academics drawn to eastern urban centers like Washington DC. So so true. He's not really a FPR-er but Rob Dreher has written eloquently about his wanderings leading him (and his family) back to his Louisiana home. All very good and good antidote to so much modernist
And yet I must admit some dissatisfaction with the "local space" argument. Part of the Christian message is a dis-ease (perhaps ala Walker Percy or Dorothy Day) with one's place in the world....since our true home is in Heaven. There's always "something else" that the Christian tradition celebrates which pulls out of our local particularities. So it's important to celebrate South Bend, Louisiana, and even Albany, but none of these locations can be viewed as ultimate. Being only part of creation they can't be synonymous with the Creator.
* First Things consistently provides all sorts of wonderful posts, too. This brilliant deconstruction of historian Eric Hobsbawm names--yet once again--the western world's refusal to see Marxism for what it was and is: violent oppression of humanity and the human spirit. This willingness to forget Marxism's horrors is the other side of spiritual diabetes: that thirst for "real" and authentic experience--true reform! real spiritual experience! great sex! good food!--creates a crazed search for practices and peoples to satisfy our thirsts. The problem--the "diabetic" one I've labeled--is that we've lost the ability to convert that which we've already consumed...and the side effects include spiritual flabbiness and thirst. So our secular friends suffer as much as the religious folks we know.