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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

Who Are You Calling Crazy?

Gary Greenberg On How We Define Mental Illness — And How It Defines Us

Mental illness is a function of consciousness, and consciousness is something we see through a glass darkly. We simply are not prepared to understand it with the same certainty that we are prepared to understand, say, liver disease.

The Skeleton Gets Up And Walks

Craig Childs On How The World Is Always Ending

We think of apocalypse as a moment — a flash of light, then you’re gone — but if we study the earth’s history, we find that it’s not one moment. It’s actually a long process. In fact, it’s hard to see where it begins or ends. Like right now: evidence indicates that we’re experiencing the planet’s sixth mass extinction — a period when the rate of extinction spikes and the diversity and abundance of life decrease. Each such extinction event takes hundreds of thousands of years to play out, and it’s generally 5 to 8 million years before the previous levels of biodiversity return. So are we at the end or the beginning of a cycle? This could just be a temporary spike. The pattern could swerve in a different direction.

Righteous Babe

Ani DiFranco On Music, Politics, And Staying Independent

You have to practice tuning out the noise of the culture to hear the messages transmitted from your gut and your heart. You have to become like a bird-watcher and be vigilant and develop the skills to spot and name the quick flash of awareness in yourself.

Two Ways Of Knowing

Robin Wall Kimmerer On Scientific And Native American Views Of The Natural World

I prefer to ask what gifts the land offers. Gifts require a giver, a being with agency. Gifts invite reciprocity. Gifts help form relationships. Scientists aren’t comfortable with the word gifts, so we get ecosystem services instead. These terms arise from different worldviews, but both recognize the way the land sustains life.

Embracing Ignorance

Jack Miles On His Path From Belief To Disbelief And Back

We’re all stuck with ignorance as we move from quandary to quandary. What I want to do is make a case for religion as one of the means to cope with this irremediable human condition.

The Kids Are All Right

David Lancy Questions Our Assumptions About Parenting

Parenting trends are less about what’s good for the child and more about parents’ need for affirmation. The message of my work is that parents have far less impact than they think they do.

The Miracle In Front Of You

Raymond Barfield On Practicing Medicine With Compassion

You have to notice beauty when it appears. That means you have to show up and shut up. If I could give just one piece of advice to all medical students, I would say, “Show up completely, and then shut up for at least two minutes while the miracle in front of you tells you who they are and how you can help them.” If every doctor did just that one thing, it would change medicine.

Great Expectations

Jennifer Senior On Modern Parenthood And Its Discontents

I was amazed to read about the New York City newsboys’ strike in 1899, which ultimately improved conditions and raised wages. You had these armies of seven-, eight-, and nine-year-olds bringing the entire newspaper business to its knees. They organized and won. Today we don’t even let our nine-year-olds go on the subway by themselves.

The Geography Of Sorrow

Francis Weller On Navigating Our Losses

The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.

It’s Her Choice

Katha Pollitt On The Struggle Over Abortion Rights

If one in three women has had an abortion, you can’t really talk about it as some rare practice indulged in only by particularly evil women. . . . What do you do with that one-third of women? . . . Put them in prison?