Around the Web

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.’”

Faith Leaders Call on Congress to Support Pro-Family, Pro-Worker Policies

Photo by Andre Jackson on Unsplash

Millennial writers and contributors Patrick Manning, Marcus Mescher, Fr. Patrick Gilger, Andy Otto, and Anna Floerke Scheid, along with editor Robert Christian, have signed a new letter to Congress calling for pro-family, pro-worker policies with other faith leaders, including Rachel Anderson of Families Valued, Katelyn Beaty, Rev. Chris Butler, Julie Hanlon Rubio, and Melissa Wear. Here are some highlights of the letter:

Congress can and should enact policies that ensure that all Americans can work on terms that are safe and family-supportive.

Guarantee paid parental and family leave.

The U.S. remains one of the few industrialized nations that does not guarantee new parents paid leave. Paid leave, which is associated with reductions in neonatal, infant and young child deaths, is decidedly pro-family and pro-child….

Support paid time off for illness, recovery and caregiving.

During the pandemic emergency leave helped temporarily guarantee paid leave for some workers, but the U.S. needs a forward-looking plan so that all workers will have access to paid sick days that account for the seasons of illness, recovery and caregiving that are normal and important parts of human life.

Protect pregnant women and young children.

The vulnerable beginning stages of life – pregnancy, childbirth and infancy – involve, in the United States, more risk than they should. Congress should strengthen the ability  of pregnant women to ask for reasonable accommodations at work. Congress should also prioritize investment in policy research, data collection and accountability structures that reduce racial and economic maternal health inequities and improve infant and maternal health.

You can read the full letter and add your signature here.


Pope Launches Laudato Si Action Platform

Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash

via Philip Pullella:

Pope Francis launched an initiative on Tuesday to make Catholic institutions ranging from families to universities to businesses environmentally sustainable in seven years, saying a “predatory attitude” toward the planet must end.

The Laudato Si Action Platform takes its name from the pope’s landmark 2015 encyclical on the need to protect the environment, reduce wasteful lifestyles, stem global warming and protect the poor from the effects of climate change….

In a video message for the launch, the pope said the initiative would be “a seven-year journey that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology”.

He decried “our predatory attitude, which makes us feel that we are masters of the planet and its resources, and authorises us to make irresponsible use of the goods God has given us.”

The initiative will have focus groups including families, parishes and diocese, schools and universities, hospitals and other health care facilities, businesses, lay Catholic organisations, and orders of priests and nuns.

Fratelli Tutti on Culture and Society

On May 5, 2021, Franciscan Action Network hosted the first in a series of four discussions on Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ latest encyclical. The panelists, Kim Daniels ( co-director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life) and Heidi Schlumpf (executive editor of the National Catholic Reporter) dove deeply into the message of the encyclical, specifically on solidarity, community, family, friendship, and the common good and how we can engage in a pluralistic society while avoiding “tribalism.”



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!”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Talks Climate, Inequality, Taxation, and Solidarity at Vatican Summit

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

via Medium:

Remarks as prepared for address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences event, Dreaming of a Better Restart, in a session entitled Financial and Tax Solidarity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on human life and our economies. It has also exacerbated global inequality, potentially undoing years of gains in reducing poverty and international economic convergence. Low-income countries are in a particularly difficult situation. Not only are they are facing rising poverty levels, but also increasing debt burdens, and little policy space.

Many low-income countries lack the resources to pay for vaccines, support households and businesses hurt by the economic crisis, and meet their debt payments. I am concerned about a persistent spike in global poverty and a long-lasting global divergence in prosperity.

The United States is committed to working with our international partners to tackle these challenges to foster a better future for all….

Our challenge is to make sure governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.

We are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom….

And finally, on climate — as Pope Francis recently noted at President Biden’s virtual climate summit, we can come out of this crisis either better or worse. We must collectively work to exit this crisis on a stronger footing, addressing worldwide inequalities and striving to be “stewards of nature.”

President Biden and I are committed to using the full power of the U.S. federal government to address climate change. At the recent White House Leaders Summit on Climate, President Biden announced a new target aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas pollution by half (compared with 2005 levels) by 2030.

The cost of inaction is too great. We must fuel a clean energy revolution that creates good jobs, achieves justice, reduces emissions and pollution, and tackles the climate crisis at home and abroad….

This moment requires unprecedented global cooperation, and a shared sense of urgency and commitment. We must work together.