In Like a Lamb

Come for the feminism, stay for the florals.

Happy Spring!

I don’t want to jinx anything, but the sun is shining, and there’s a feeling of hope in the air. My kids and husband have been enjoying planting seedlings in the basement, and we’ve all been getting our hands dirty working on weeding and tilling the soil in our little backyard garden.

If you need something to listen to while you weed (or go for a walk, if you don’t have a garden—the fresh air and sunshine will do you good!), may I suggest this podcast?

Toward a New Feminism

For my inaugural podcast appearance, I had a great time talking with Zac Crippen and Leah Libresco Sargeant about a new vision for what feminism could—and should!—be, where previous waves have gone wrong, the beauty of vulnerability and dependence, the importance of valuing caregiving, and more.

Incidentally, Zac—the host of Creedal Catholic—is the brother of a close friend of mine, Brittany. Their family has been through a lot in the past few years, as their mother bravely battled cancer. Her faith throughout suffering, even unto death, was an incredible witness to the power of Christ’s love, even in the midst of seemingly senseless pain and darkness.

Brittany and I used to share an office in our younger days, but now we are both moms of little kids and work from home most of the time. Inspired by her mother, she’s started a business called Live Brave, selling beautiful handcrafted clay earrings. I gave up unnecessary shopping for Lent (which has been good for me—with the pandemic, it’s been much too easy to turn to online retail therapy, as if acquiring more things could actually solve my problems or soothe my anxieties). So I haven’t bought these gorgeous floral earrings yet, but once Easter comes, I might have to pull the trigger.

This isn’t a fashion newsletter, but I couldn’t resist including these, just in case anyone is looking for Easter accessories. They’d make a lovely Mother’s Day present too… with the added benefit of supporting a mom who started her small business in honor of her own mother.

Okay, sales pitch over. Back to the shameless self-promotion!

Family Policy Hour

I recently had the opportunity to write another op-ed for Newsweek, titled “Struggling Families Want Cash Benefits, Not Child Care Subsidies.”

In this brief piece, I take a look at the tax code changes in the latest COVID stimulus package that will affect families with kids. I like the idea of a child allowance, which is basically what the expanded and refundable Child Tax Credit is, but I think it’s a bad idea to tie support for families to the use of paid childcare providers, as the expanded Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit does.

For now, these changes are only in place for one year, so there will be lots of wrangling about child tax credits and allowances as they expire. As I’ve written before, I’m impressed with Mitt Romney’s plan, which would consolidate unwieldy and complicated benefits programs into one flat child allowance, which would be paid out by the Social Security Administration instead of the IRS, decoupling benefits from the tax code altogether. Unlike the Biden plan, Romney’s is budget neutral, rather than increasing deficit spending, and it doesn’t give families more money for paying someone else to care for their child. It just gives parents cash and lets them choose how to spend it.

Reasoning Together

As part of my day job as Editor of Public Discourse, I’ve been working on adding some new weekend features, including a monthly interview series. This month, I interviewed the great political philosopher and proponent of natural law reasoning, Princeton professor Robby George.

Within the (admittedly kind of strange) world of academic/politically inclined social conservatives, there has been a lot of fierce internal debate over the past few years. To me, it seems like a lot of these debates are generational.

Older conservatives like Robby tend to be more hopeful about the possibility of reasoned discourse among people of good faith, more dedicated to small government, and more convinced of the importance of procedural restraint. Younger conservatives tend to have a more pessimistic view of the potential for such persuasion, and they tend to be more comfortable saying that the government (whether via judges, the administrative state, or the legislature) should be bolder about trying to make changes that will orient society toward the common good and shape people in healthier ways.

I asked Robby about his opinion of this shift and asked him to articulate the case for why young conservatives shouldn’t give up on making natural law arguments in the public square. Click through to read our conversation here.

Other good stuff

I’ll share my review of Gracy Olmstead’s new book Uprooted in the next newsletter. In the meantime, I’ll just say that the book is really worth reading.

For the Catholics out there, I just finished this lovely 33-day preparation for consecration to Saint Joseph. I have always found St. Joseph so comforting, and I loved reading and learning more about him. If you get it now, you could aim to finish it on May 1st, the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Ite ad Joseph!

Disney has been putting out some really moving explorations of grief lately. I loved both WandaVision and Raya and the Last Dragon. As the pandemic grinds on and we begin to gradually open our lives up again, I think all of us are dealing with grief, whether large or small. Don’t judge me, but I found myself borderline sobbing during the climax of Raya. It’s hard to hold onto hope and to keep making the choice to love and trust and be vulnerable, even when you have been hurt and you know you could be again. Heavy-handed though Disney can be, grappling with these themes through a kids’ movie can be surprisingly cathartic.

If you need a soundtrack for your spring cleaning, my kids and I have been enjoying this laid-back Spotify playlist called Family Folk.

And finally, I’ve got to recommend the Peloton app, particularly their outdoor running content and marathon training program. When things first shut down a year ago, I started running out of desperation, even though I have always hated and avoided running. The audio guided runs made me learn to love it. I went through the whole training program, ran a marathon last October, and am excited to jump back into it now that the snow and ice are gone. Those endorphins and vitamin D really can’t be beat.

Until April!

Serena