1. Being a homeless girl in Hipsterville
Andrea Elliott has written a gripping story, accompanied by stunning photographs by Ruth Fremson, for a special New York Times project on homelessness—and particularly on the 22,000 children in New York City who are homeless. The piece profiles a girl named Dasani (yes, named for the brand of bottled water), who lives in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn:
In the short span of Dasani’s life, her city has been reborn. The skyline soars with luxury towers, beacons of a new gilded age. More than 200 miles of fresh bike lanes connect commuters to high-tech jobs, passing through upgraded parks and avant-garde projects like the High Line and Jane’s Carousel. Posh retail has spread from its Manhattan roots to the city’s other boroughs. These are the crown jewels of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s long reign, which began just seven months after Dasani was born. In the shadows of this renewal, it is Dasani’s population who have been left behind. The ranks of the poor have risen, with almost half of New Yorkers living near or below the poverty line. Their traditional anchors — affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage — have weakened as the city reorders itself around the whims of the wealthy.
2. The art of conversation
Naomi Biesheuvel, Brian Dijkema, and Kathryn de Ruijter from Comment jointly interview Marilyn Chandler McEntyre on “conversing with care.” As they put it, they sought to do what she champions: “taking the time to speak intentionally and listen generously.” You may recall I drew upon her work in this post on resisting manipulation and seeking truth during 2012’s painful election cycle. Here’s McEntyre:
Those of us who are in any position of leadership need to assume some leadership in creating conversational spaces where disagreement is welcomed and shepherded in such a way that it doesn’t just polarize. At some point I have to admit that there are limits to my own reading and that I have my own slant. I think you can do that with integrity. You can be vigorous and insistent about what your own assumptions are and what you base them on. But if someone brings up new information, you need to be willing to say, “Oh, that’s new information to me.”
3. Evangelicalism after the Crystal Cathedral
Religion correspondent Jim Hinch writes for The American Scholar about the changing cultural and religious demographics of Orange County, California—shifts that are epitomized, as he’d have it, by the recent sale and ongoing transformation of the Crystal Cathedral. He then suggests what it means for the rest of us. I’m not sure he’s entirely right across the board, but the broader shifts he gets at are definitely under way in cities, suburbs, and even rural areas across the country:
In a few years, perhaps a decade or two, religious America will catch up to Orange County’s present. There will be a shrinking number of evangelical megachurches, gradually aging and waning in influence. There will be numerous small, eclectic, multiethnic evangelical congregations whose emphasis on spiritual commitment and social service is unlikely to attract a large, mainstream following. And there will be surging numbers of immigrant Catholics, Pentecostals, and Muslims. The political influence of evangelicalism will decline. America will not become like Europe, where ossified state churches proved unable to compete against the inherently secularizing forces of market capitalism—and where immigrants’ faith expressions are often met with hostility. America will remain exceptionally religious. But traditional evangelical Christianity will no longer be a dominant presence in that religiosity.
4. Unconditional love on public radio
This episode is actually several years old, but it was just rebroadcast this week by This American Life, and it’s a goodie.
5. All Who Hear
[Image via nytimes.com]