Last Week, Today: Biden, BenOps, Adam Ford, Family-Friendly Backfiring

1. Joe Biden's on grief

The experience of Beau's death is not Joe Biden's first encounter with grief. Just after he was elected to the Senate in 1972, at age 29, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash. His speech in 2012 to families of fallen soldiers, reflecting on that car crash, provides some insight into what it means for him, and for all of us, to fully and dearly grieve. 

"I probably shouldn’t say this with the press here," Biden said, "but no, but it’s more important, you’re more important. For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again."

More by Ezra Klein at Vox.

2. A Witnessing Community for Singles in the City

Leah Libresco, blogger at Unequally Yoked and writer at FiveThirtyEight, hosted a few discussions on what the Benedict Option could look like especially for Catholics in DC. Her take on the Option:

Living a Christian life on your own is something people had to discern and prepare for.  Often, monks needed the permission of a superior if they wanted to go off into the desert alone. Unfortunately, it’s easy for Christian laypeople to wind up as accidental stylites — living their faith alone, without the guidance, affection, rhythms, or shared enthusiasm that would result from living in community.  As I see the Benedict Option, it’s a way to prevent that from happening, to make sure that Christians clear space for some distinctly Christian communal spaces, so that your faith isn’t confined to your pew, your room, and the inside of your own head.

Eve Tushnet captures the experience, in her usual feisty voice, in these blogposts by laying out a "degrees of commitment" framework on how you want to engage in "BenOps." 

Why not just call this "the church"? Rod Dreher argues for the re-branding this way: "The answer is that yeah, it is 'just being church,' but the currents of the popular culture today are so strong, and so opposed to orthodox Christianity, that, broadly speaking, in order to hold your own, you have to ground yourself strongly in an adversarial stance to the broader culture."

3. Another way to read Pew's numbers

Adam Ford has a brilliant comic that offers both a satirical and hopeful take on the church in America today. Check it out. 

4. When Family-Friendly Policies Backfire

There has been a lot of writing on why we should create a more inclusive workplace for women and families here in the United States. How have countries fared when they have adopted family-friendly policies? Claire Cain Miller, over at The New York Times' The Upshot, takes a look. The results are not so pretty. It might not be enough to convince companies to respect families insofar as it benefits the bottom line. Because what happens when it doesn't?


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Sarah Ngu (@sarahngu) is a freelance writer and an alumni of Trinity Forum Academy and Columbia University. Based in New York, she blogs on faith and culture, and produces thought leadership for businesses.