Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

The Facebook Papers: ‘History Will Not Judge Us Kindly’ by Adrienne LaFrance: “Thousands of pages of internal documents offer the clearest picture yet of how Facebook endangers American democracy—and show that the company’s own employees know it.”

Going Gray by Susan Bigelow Reynolds: “Death was doing its thing on the world. The hair was my own memento mori, a cross of ashes threaded onto my body. Reminders of death’s nearness were everywhere, and they were almost uniformly terrifying. But these slivers of gray forecasted my someday-death in a different voice: they felt beautiful, familiar, like the whisper of a confidant.”

Where are Hawley’s real ideas for fixing American manhood? by Christine Emba: “A real man is a husband and father, Hawley says, and the United States needs men who will “raise up sons and daughters after them.” Okay. If you’re interested, senator, there’s a fight for paid parental leave — for mothers and fathers — going on in Congress right now. Paid leave seems like an obvious policy choice to help American men become more present to their families. Oddly, it seems to be garnering support only from the very liberals you inveigh against. If conservatives care about the family, maybe they should try supporting it.”

US bishops lost about how to engage a culture they don’t understand by Michael Sean Winters: “These most American of prelates want “success” but success is not a category we find in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In America, it is the shepherds who are the most lost of all.”

I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise My Middle-Class Kids? by Esau McCaulley: “Still, I can teach my children the most important lesson my mother taught me: Our circumstances do not determine our worth. My kids are not in some ontologically different category than poor kids. If they are ever tempted to look down upon others, I remind them to see the face of their father on the visages of the poor.”

If This Country Won’t Listen to Moms, I’m Asking Men to Start Shouting by Jessica Grose: “Matthews believes we can increase the salience of paid leave for men and for more conservative voters by elevating new narratives. Many people tune out these new-mom stories (which is why I’m so full of rage right now), but if we want to be savvy about getting support for this issue, we should start telling stories like the ones Matthews heard from rural men when she was conducting focus groups.”

Five Ways to Exercise Your Thankfulness Muscles by Tish Harrison Warren: “This posture of receptiveness — living as the thankful beneficiary of gifts — is the path of joy because it reminds us that we do not have to be the makers and sustainers of our life. Gratitude is how we embrace beauty without clutching it so tightly that we strangle it.”

When I Stopped Drinking, I Started Running. God Found Me. by José Dueño Gorbea, SJ: “It had become more than a social pastime and was affecting my sleep, mood, work and relationships. It became clear to me in prayer that alcohol was hindering my life. Soon after I stopped drinking, I realized I needed a new activity to distract me, release some energy, and fill in the time that I would have spent otherwise. I decided to pick up running.”

Self-Sufficiency Is Overrated by Sarah Wildman: “Covid isolation — from which we are gingerly emerging but have not quite escaped — has shown us the limits of our cherished self-sufficiency. Alone, disconnected from one another, we are not actually fine.”

Around the Web

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We Weren’t Happy Before the Pandemic, Either by Esau McCaulley: “The pandemic has disabused us of the illusion of time as a limitless resource and of the false promise that the sacrifices we make for our careers are always worth it.”

This Is Our Chance to Pull Teenagers Out of the Smartphone Trap by Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge: “But as data accumulates that teenage mental health has changed for the worse since 2012, it now appears that electronically mediated social interactions are like empty calories.”

Why Americans Die So Much by Derek Thompson: “Before the 1990s, average life expectancy in the U.S. was not much different than it was in Germany, the United Kingdom, or France. But since the 1990s, American life spans started falling significantly behind those in similarly wealthy European countries.”

No, Facebook’s domination isn’t inevitable by Christine Emba: “But a company shouldn’t be allowed to grow unchecked if it’s causing harm. And it’s now evident that the harms of Facebook have begun to outweigh the benefits of whatever it’s selling.”

Sally Rooney’s surprising read of the shifting millennial zeitgeist by Christine Emba: “Some might read this trend as defeatism. But I’m inclined to read it as defiance — an attempt to live fully despite a crumbling world, focused neither inward (obsessed with individual success) nor far outward (engaging in theoretical activism), but on the present moment and one’s present circle.”

Robert Kagan’s warning about the US constitutional crisis: It is 1932 by Michael Sean Winters: “Biden’s decision not to assert executive privilege concerning documents and testimony that might shed light on Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 is significant because it recognizes that we can’t treat Trump and the threat he poses the way we normally confront problems. His threat is altogether different and more dangerous.”

The Social Security Trap by Stephanie Murray: “The program rewards work and ignores parenting, but needs both to function. If we all worked and no one had kids, our elder-care system would collapse under us as we aged—and not just Social Security. Medicare, the broader economy, and financial markets depend on people having babies too.”

Want to Change the World? First, Be Still. by Tish Harrison Warren: “Advocacy in support of the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized and the pursuit of peace requires action. Particularly in a democracy, we have a responsibility to raise our voices to call for a more just and compassionate society for all people. But the practices of silence, contemplation and stillness are essential disciplines in Christian spirituality.”

How to Help Prepare Kids for Suffering by Tish Harrison Warren: “Children — like all human beings — need to truthfully face difficulty and heartache to grow stronger. Not too much of course. When exposed to too much trauma, bones shatter and people can too. But we weaken our kids by trying to guard them from all pain.”

Teenage girls say Instagram’s mental health impacts are no surprise. by Erin Woo: “Documents that a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, provided to The Wall Street Journal showed that Instagram made body-image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.”


Around the Web: Articles on Racial Justice and Reform

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Race Manners: Which Black People Should I Believe? by Jenée Desmond-Harris: “Should you weigh the perspectives of people who are personally affected by racist policies? Of course. But you don’t have to weigh them all equally. Gather information and learn, yes, but as you’re digesting all those tweets and articles and interviews, ask yourself questions like these: Do I generally consider this person or media outlet to be smart and trustworthy? Do I see eye to eye with this person or media outlet on issues about which I feel more clear and confident? Does what I’m hearing line up with my values?”

Why Christians Must Fight Systemic Racism by Esau McCaulley: “When people point out bias or racism in structures (health care, housing, policing, employment practices), they are engaging in the most Christian of practices: naming and resisting sins, personal and collective. A Christian theology of human fallibility leads us to expect structural and personal injustice. It is in the texts we hold dear. So when Christians stand up against racialized oppression, they are not losing the plot; they are discovering an element of Christian faith and practice that has been with us since the beginning.”

Why Is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory? by Spencer Bokat-Lindell: “Florida is one of six states in recent months that have passed such pedagogical regulations — which in some cases apply to public universities — and 20 others are considering measures to the same effect, often explicitly targeting critical race theory. Where did this movement come from, and what are the underlying disputes? Here’s what people are saying.”

I’m a conservative who believes systemic racism is real by Michael Gerson: “Though our nation is beset with systemic racism, we also have the advantage of what a friend calls “systemic anti-racism.” We have documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment — that call us to our better selves. We are a country that has exploited and oppressed Black Americans. But we are also the country that has risen up in mass movements, made up of Blacks and Whites, to confront those evils. The response to systemic racism is the determined, systematic application of our highest ideals.”

Service, patriotism and the promise of Black liberation by EJ Dionne: “In his interviews with Black veterans, Parker, a political science professor at the University of Washington, found a patriotism rooted not in the reality of their moment but in aspirations for the future — “hope that America would recognize its founding values. It’s the thing that kept them going,” he told me.”

The War on History Is a War on Democracy by Timothy Snyder: “The memory laws arise in a moment of cultural panic when national politicians are suddenly railing against “revisionist” teachings. In Russia, the supposed revisionists are people who write critically about Stalin, or honestly about the Second World War. In the United States, the “revisionists” are people who write about race. In both cases, “revisionism” tends to mean the parts of history that challenge leaders’ sense of righteousness or make their supporters uncomfortable.”

His Name Was Emmett Till by Wright Thompson: “A Mississippi-history textbook taught at one in the early 1990s didn’t mention Till at all. A newer textbook contains 70 words on Till, calling him a “man” and telling the story of his killing through the lens of the damage that two evil men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, did to all the good white folks. Half the passage is about how the segregationist governor was a “moderating force” in a time when media coverage of Till’s murder “painted a poor picture of Mississippi and its white citizens.” This textbook is still in use.”

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We’re making the wrong argument for a four-day workweek by Christine Emba: “When we focus on how a shorter workweek will make us better employees, we’re making the wrong argument to our bosses and ourselves. The four-day workweek shouldn’t just be about becoming more productive — the real benefit is that it would allow us to be fuller people.”

‘A Form of Brainwashing’: China Remakes Hong Kong by Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson: “With each passing day, the boundary between Hong Kong and the rest of China fades faster. The Chinese Communist Party is remaking this city, permeating its once vibrant, irreverent character with ever more overt signs of its authoritarian will. The very texture of daily life is under assault as Beijing molds Hong Kong into something more familiar, more docile.”

For Americans struggling with poverty, ‘the safety net in the United States is very, very weak,’ expert says by Joe Heim with Mark Robert Rank: “We show that 60 percent of the population between 20 and 75 will experience one year below the official poverty line, which is very conservative. And three-quarters of Americans will experience either poverty or near poverty, just above the poverty line. So people ask me: Why are those numbers so large? And one of the reasons is: If you look over longer periods of time, what happens is that things occur to us that we didn’t anticipate. So things like losing a job or a family splitting up or getting sick or a pandemic occurring. When they occur in the United States there’s not a lot to protect people. The safety net in the United States is very, very weak. So when these things happen, folks are very much at risk of falling into poverty.”

We need a national paid family and medical leave program. Here’s what Congress can do by Rachel Lea Scott: “The pandemic has underscored the depth of human interconnectedness, particularly how our health is often impacted by that of our neighbors and co-workers. A robust paid family and medical leave program benefits all of us, whether or not we are ever in a position to need to use it. As people of faith, this is precisely what we mean when we talk about promoting the common good.”

‘You Just Feel Like Nothing’: California to Pay Sterilization Victims by Amanda Morris: “Under the influence of a movement known as eugenics, whose supporters believed that those with physical disabilities, psychiatric disorders and other conditions were “genetically defective,” more than 60,000 people across the United States were forcibly sterilized by state-run programs throughout the 20th century.”

How Catholic social teaching improves all ‘four Americas’ by Michael Sean Winters: “I would submit, however, that the best way to ameliorate the worst features of each of these four narratives is with the strong tonic of Catholic moral teaching, and our social teaching more specifically.”

U.S. Proposal for 15% Global Minimum Tax Wins Support From 130 Countries by Liz Alderman, Jim Tankersley and Eshe Nelson: “An effort to push the most sweeping changes to the global tax system in a century gained significant momentum on Thursday when 130 nations agreed to a blueprint in which multinational corporations would pay an appropriate share of tax wherever they operate.”

Biden’s child tax credit should be obvious. Yet the result is revolutionary. by Christine Emba: “There were sure to be fumbles in a rollout of this size, but the expanded child tax credit is a watershed movement in how we think about helping others — and a template for effective anti-poverty policy in the future.”

8 Hours a Day, 5 Days a Week Is Not Working for Us by Bryce Cover: “If everyone worked less, though, it would be easier to spread the work out evenly to more people. If white-collar professionals were no longer expected or required to log 60 hours a week but 30 instead, that would be a whole extra job for someone else. That would allow more people into positions with middle-class incomes, particularly young people looking to put college educations to use. We could even guarantee everyone a floor, a certain number of hours, at the same time that we lower the ceiling. That would push low-wage employers to fully use the people they have and not treat them as interchangeable cogs to be called upon or turned away whenever demand necessitates.”

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Check out these recent articles from around the web:

What can we offer to the world? by Mike Lewis: “We have two choices: we can retreat further into our collapsing fortresses (with groups like the Veritatis Splendor community or other traditionalist enclaves) and cling to a self-referential concept of the Church, or we can get in the boat with Peter, Pope Francis, and venture out into the wider world, riding on the choppy waves, seeking out a new future for the Church.”

Pope Francis is right: modern poverty in the United States is a scandal. But what are possible solutions? by John W. Miller: “Uniontown, established on July 4, 1776, birthplace of the Big Mac and home to General George C. Marshall, is a microcosm of American poverty. It suffers from high degrees of segregation, income inequality, low-wage service work as the dominant form of employment, pollution from heavy industry, drug abuse and a lack of public transportation and other public infrastructure.”

From Here to Utopia by David Albertson & Jason Blakely: “As American social democracy matures, it has much to learn from religious movements, and from Catholic communities in particular, as it supplements cries for change with the fine-grained work of ethical transformation.”

The pandemic shed light on what it’s like to be a stay-at-home parent by Stephanie H. Murray: “This collective societal wake-up call has been strangely comforting — hundreds of millions of people suddenly understand with searing clarity the odd psychological challenge of being at home alone all day. How difficult it is to schedule socialization when it isn’t already built into your day. How far Zoom and FaceTime fall as substitutes for real interaction.”

Is it time to limit personal wealth? by Christine Emba: “What does it say about us that we have agreed to live with chasms so vast, and that we continue to ignore the connection between extreme wealth and immiseration? Why do we so commonly assume that material wealth is a clear signifier of worth?”

The Authoritarian Threat Is Not Overhyped by Jonathan Chait: “Suppose Trump had dropped dead in January. Would Republicans not be passing vote suppression laws? They very likely would. And the reason is that, while Trump is an extreme manifestation, his authoritarian impulses are not purely idiosyncratic. Skepticism of democracy as a value has deep roots in conservative thought. While conservative parties in other countries accommodate themselves to democratic control over the economy generations ago, the American right has never relinquished its belief that allowing majorities to redistribute income at the ballot box is a fundamental violation of liberty.”

Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win by Thomas Wright: “Each side is motivated more by insecurity than by an ambition to transform the world in its image. Xi and his fellow autocrats worry that the free flow of information, the attractiveness of democracy, and economic interdependence would destabilize their regimes. Biden and America’s allies are concerned that Xi’s attempt to make the world safe for the Chinese Communist Party will undermine freedom and democracy, pushing international rules in an illiberal direction and empowering autocrats worldwide.”

Nurturing dads raise emotionally intelligent kids by Kevin Shafer: “When fathers are caregivers – when they provide emotional support and act affectionately toward their kids – the effects go well beyond growth, development, good health and solid grades. My research shows the benefits also include having children who value emotional intelligence, gender equality and healthy competition.”

Politics and Science Are Both Catching up With Big Marijuana by Kevin Sabet: “Colorado isn’t charting this course alone. Other states, such as Vermont and Montana, have seen the result of Colorado’s laissez-faire approach and have moved to restrict THC potency and severely limit advertising. They have also taken other steps to ensure public health remains paramount over the addiction-for-profit interests of the marijuana industry.”

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Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Overdose Deaths Have Surged During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Data Shows by NY Times: “More than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to preliminary federal data, eclipsing the toll from any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.”

Everyone is tired. We need to give ourselves an actual break. by Christine Emba: “So instead of snapping back to normal once we’ve had our shots, we should take our newly recognized existential tiredness as an indication that it’s time to change course — to realize that we need to give ourselves an actual break.”

Log Off and Know that I Am God by Tish Harrison Warren: “Our habitual online discourse often trains us to undervalue the vast mystery of God—with all the wonder and worship it inspires—by immersing ourselves in sociological and theological commentary and debate. These conversations matter, of course. But we are in peril of replacing transcendence with immanence. We miss the deeper things of God for the Christian controversy du jour.”

Can Civics Save America? by George Packer: “By intent or blunder, the left and right are colluding to undermine the noble, elusive goal of giving American children the ability to think and argue and act together as citizens.”

Why personality cults and democracy don’t mix by Brian Klaas: “Poland’s authoritarian slide shows what can happen when devotion to lies becomes central to partisan identity. Republicans would be wise to keep that in mind — and voters would be wise to vote against a party that purges politicians for telling the truth.”

Overwork Killed More Than 745,000 People In A Year, WHO Study Finds by NPR: “People working 55 or more hours each week face an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to people following the widely accepted standard of working 35 to 40 hours in a week, the WHO says in a study that was published Monday in the journal Environment International.”

The Professional Women Who Are Leaning Out by men choosing part-time work—and loving it. by Olga Khazan: “Feminism, these women decided, doesn’t have to be all about work. Sometimes, in fact, it can mean relaxing a bit, especially in the middle of a global emergency.”

Child care has bipartisan support. But the culture war could wreck that. by Elliot Haspel: “Americans do, in fact, want a dizzying variety of care setups: secular child-care centers, faith-based options, home-based day cares, public prekindergarten, minding by relatives, care from a parent. These preferences can shift with children’s ages and family circumstances, and vary among demographics. While Biden’s child-care proposals are optional and inclusive of all types of external care, they are silent on stay-at-home parents.”

How to Pay Attention (an Unofficial Guide) by Ellen Koneck: “Attention fatigue. Exhaustion from the strain on my eyes and mind of focusing so long at the blurry sameness, trying to glean meaning from it day after day. Trying to attend to the things at hand despite the monotony and trying to attend to what matters most despite the disruption.”

“Forever wars” obscures more than it clarifies“Forever wars” obscures more than it clarifies by Brian Katulis: “The real forever war is the struggle against simply shrugging our shoulders, looking for simple answers, averting our eyes from how these conflicts impact people, and glibly declaring ‘bad stuff happens.’”

Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Should a Child Benefit Be Based on Marital and Employment Status?  by Amber Lapp: “The relationship between a cash benefit and marriage and employment rates is worth examining very thoroughly. It would be tragic if, in trying to encourage self-sufficiency and stability, we withheld support that could help families reach those very goals.”

Rosie Could Be a Riveter Only Because of a Care Economy. Where Is Ours? by Anne-Marie Slaughter: “Today, we have the chance to see care work as the essential work that it is, the work that makes other work possible, the work that develops young brains and determines the extent to which our children will be able to learn and live up to their potential for the rest of their lives, the work that determines who we really are as a society when it comes to the frail and vulnerable among us. It is work we all hope will be performed as well as possible when our turn comes to depend on caregivers at the end of our lives.”

‘Rerum Novarum’ is 130 years old. What would Leo XIII say about today’s gig economy? by Kenneth R. Himes: “The threatening possibilities of the gig economy as the future of work for many persons is a moral challenge for theorists and practitioners of the Catholic social tradition. The plight of the precariat and their experience of human work is a reminder to us today that 130 years ago, Leo XIII was right to see the nature of work and justice for the workers as key to the entire social question.”

Black hair is beautiful by Gunnar B. Gundersen: “Not only was hair an important part of the Civil Rights discourse in the 1960s, but it has also been recognized now as a key way White Supremacy makes Whiteness seem like an objective standard. This attack is a direct assault on the well-being of Black people today.”

How to confront systemic racism? Heed the call of Martin Luther King. by Michael Gerson: “People for whom the system works have a hard time understanding the lasting, disastrous economic consequences of centuries of stolen labor, or the continuing legacy of disenfranchisement and voter suppression, or the fear generated by policing that targets and dehumanizes minorities.”

The reason many Guatemalans are coming to the border? A profound hunger crisis. by Kevin Sieff: “Guatemala now has the sixth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world. The number of acute cases in children, according to one new Guatemalan government study, doubled between 2019 and 2020. The crisis was caused in part by failed harvests linked to climate change, a string of natural disasters and a nearly nonexistent official response. Supply-chain disruptions then led to a spike in prices.”

A Debt of Honor by George Packer: “But there is still something that the U.S. can redeem from the sacrifice. It can fulfill its responsibilities to Afghans who put their trust and lives in American hands.”

A Christian Vision of Social Justice by David Brooks: “This vision begins with respect for the equal dignity of each person. It is based on the idea that we are all made in the image of God. It abhors any attempt to dehumanize anybody on any front. We may be unjustly divided in a zillion ways, but a fundamental human solidarity in being part of the same creation.”

This is what the death of the two-state solution looks like by Tamara Cofman Wittes: “A two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is indeed a distant prospect — but the horrific alternative is now clear. It is time for leaders in Israel, in Palestine, in the region, and around the world to take that lesson to heart, and commit to assiduous efforts to get Israelis and Palestinians back on the long, arduous path toward a negotiated resolution.”

Survivors Of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Share Eyewitness Accounts by NPR: “During emotional testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Fletcher, who is now 107, recalled her memories of the two-day massacre that left hundreds of Black people dead.”

Joe Biden teaches ‘Fratelli Tutti’ Economics 101 by MSW: “President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill follows in the footsteps of his American Rescue Plan. It is an example of Catholic social doctrine in action. Taken together, they represent not only a repudiation of Reaganomics, but the introduction of a new kind of social policy we could and should call Fratelli Tutti economics!”