Aug 1, 2019 4 min read

#203: The Rise of Millennial Nuns

#203: The Rise of Millennial Nuns

August is here , loyal readers, which means my birthday is tomorrow, school is starting soon, and summer is drawing to a close. Feel free to pretend that you don’t have any worldly responsibilities and read a few great articles instead. In today’s issue, you’ll learn why more young women are becomin

August is here, loyal readers, which means my birthday is tomorrow, school is starting soon, and summer is drawing to a close. Feel free to pretend that you don’t have any worldly responsibilities and read a few great articles instead.

In today’s issue, you’ll learn why more young women are becoming nuns, why seeking “the best school” for your kids might not be the best idea, and why neighboring school districts have grown increasingly more segregated over the years. If you have time to read just one article, I highly suggest the last one, “The Crane Wife,” which may move you to tears (or elicit other strong emotions).

+ The Highlighter is about reading and discussing great articles in community. If you want a chance to attend the next Pop-Up Article Club in Oakland on Sept. 28, please sign up!

Behold, The Millennial Nuns

Behold, The Millennial Nuns

Just when you thought American nuns were going extinct, they’re back and gaining momentum. In 2010, after 50 years of precipitous decline, only 50,000 “perpetually professed Catholic sisters” remained, serving God at the median age of 74. But over the past decade, things have changed radically. Becoming a nun is much more popular now, especially among young women, and increasingly among women of color.

What explains this trend? According to Eve Fairbanks, the answer is millennials. They’re stressed and burned out, tired of optimizing their lives. They’re anxious and lonely, seeking direction and absolute truth. They crave tradition, and many are religiously conservative. As a result, many millennial women are “discerning the religious life,” or pursuing Catholic sisterhood.

In this vibrantly written article, Ms. Fairbanks profiles several young women as they grow up, develop their personal identities, and figure out their next steps as they make sense of our complicated world. (39 min)

For White Parents, The Problem With Seeking “The Best” For Your Kids

Last week’s lead article was extremely popular and prompted many responses. Loyal reader Elizabeth submitted this article to continue the conversation. White parent Courtney Martin, who lives in a gentrifying neighborhood in Oakland, struggles with where she should send her daughter to kindergarten. She writes, “Where does a parent like me, someone at an ethical crossroads in a time of racial and class upheaval, look for guidance?” (10 min)

+ Let me know if you want to talk about this piece.

Loyal reader and VIP Len loves his Highlighter mug. “It is exactly the size I always get for coffee, and I am very particular,” he says. Thank you for your readership, Len!

How Segregation Keeps Poor Students Of Color Out of Whiter, Richer Districts

This month marks the 45th anniversary of Milliken v. Bradley, which ended court-ordered busing between districts to achieve desegregation. Reporter and cartoonist Alvin Chang (#125, #126) describes how Milliken effectively ended the promise of Brown, explaining how the decision promoted white flight and school secession movements, while making funding disparities permanent between urban and suburban districts. (5 min)

The Crane Wife

This is a beautiful essay, one of my favorites so far this year. Ten days after calling off her wedding, author CJ Hauser travels to the gulf coast of Texas to study whooping cranes for an upcoming novel. On the trip, Ms. Hauser reflects on her failed relationship, realizes painful personal truths, and begins the healing process. Big thanks to loyal reader Anne, who suggested this great article. (16 min)

+ Reader Annotations: After reading “Choosing A School For Raffi,” loyal reader Sarah has this proposal for white parents:

This won’t solve the problem but I think it should be a thing: educational offset credits (EOCs). If your school has more than 51% white people, or if you are taking your child to a school that is not your local school, then you need to pay educational offset credits. If you take your child to a different school, then add up the transportation cost associated with this (gas cost or public transportation cost), and donate that money to an inner city public school. If you donate to the PTA, match that donation to the other school. If someone in your state is in favor of leveling funding between high- and low-income districts, work in favor of it (because it will make more difference than EOCs).

Thank you, Sarah, for getting your ideas out there. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Oh my word, somehow you’ve reached the end of this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Or hit reply and type me a quick message. Also, let’s please welcome our 14 new subscribers: Sarita, Katie, Emma, Elizabeth, Jeremy, Brett, Jenn, Asmara, Nithya, Briana, Ryan, Gail, Amy, and Ariana. Hope the newsletter is a good match for you and your inbox!

If you like The Highlighter, please help it grow and get better. I appreciate your support. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Forward this issue to a friend and ask them for their thoughts on the trend of millennial nuns
  • Have you urged a friend to subscribe and they haven’t done so yet? Sometimes it takes a few tries. Bother and pester them!
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On the other hand, if you’d rather scour the Internet at all hours, finding great articles on your own, instead of letting me do that work for you, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am!

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