Luma Simms is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; her essays, articles, and book reviews have appeared in a variety of publications including National Affairs, Law and Liberty, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, First Things, Public Discourse, the Institute for Family Studies, and others.

How Bad Religion Has Bequeathed Us "An Anxious Age"

Over drinks at a party, an acquaintance described for me her property in Vermont. What she and her husband do to care for over 160 acres they own is extraordinary.

They bought the land (which was adjacent to their home) to save the town from sacrificing it on the altar of economic growth. My friend tells me of the townspeople and tourists who enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, and the natural beauty of the woods, paths, and water on her land. She and her husband clear the paths, care for the woods, and do everything—by physical strength or monetary necessity—to ensure this land is well-kept and available to anyone who walks, hikes, hunts, or fishes. She tells of the birds, the wild turkeys, the bears—she tells me stories—and as she speaks, my mind’s eye sees the animals and the people, and I tear up.

I admire the self-sacrifice and giving spirit she displays. I admire her earnestness, her lack of guile. Unchurched by choice, she is still a child of Maine and Vermont, a child of New England, and all the history and culture therein.

Joseph Bottum would call her a “Poster Child,” one of the categories of contemporary Americans he discusses in his book, “An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America.” Bottum’s name for these folks, the heirs of the Puritans, may seem whimsical, but his analysis is quite sober.

Read the rest of the essay at The Federalist

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