Great books tell stories. Here’s our pick of vivid and insightful new releases for better understanding America, world events, history, science, and theology
A New York moment:
After signing a bill legalizing late-term abortion in January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing another measure that evangelicals and Catholics in the state have long opposed: commercial surrogacy. New York is one of the few states that ban surrogacy. This is one issue where the United States is more socially liberal than Europe: Most countries there ban surrogacy, and the European Parliament has condemned the practice. Cuomo is proposing to legalize it through the euphemistically titled Child-Parent Security Act.
Commercial surrogacy is chiefly a priority for same-sex couples, while some bioethics and Christian groups have opposed it on the grounds that it exploits lower-income women. The Catholic Church considers surrogacy a form of human trafficking. In a typical surrogacy contract, a couple uses in vitro fertilization to create a baby and then pays a woman to carry it to term. After the surrogate mother gives birth, she gives the child to the couple.
One feature of the proposed bill is that the surrogate mother maintains all rights to decisions during the pregnancy—which would prevent situations such as the adoptive parents demanding an abortion even when a surrogate wants to keep the baby. But it also means the surrogate could abort at any point in the pregnancy.
Worth your time:
This obituary of Lenny Gilleo, the “Hairman of the Board,” who cut hair at the Federal Reserve Board. His business cards read, “My monetary policy is greatly affected by your growth rate.” His life story is fascinating too.
This week I learned:
Who Mary Lou Williams is. Wow. Happy Black History Month!
A court case you might not know about:
The founder of a Philippines-based news site called Rappler has been arrested, part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s pattern of targeting journalists. I relied on Rappler for background research in my investigation of the Iglesia ni Cristo, a Philippine group that has ties to Duterte and claims to be the only true Christian church.
Culture I am consuming:
Beautiful Boy, a film from last year that tells the true story of a young meth addict and his father’s flailing efforts to help him. It’s a story that rings so true of the helplessness I’ve seen in parents of addicts, especially those in the upper middle class who think they can quickly solve this problem just like they can solve most other problems in life.
The movie doesn’t go anywhere except to show the endless cycle of addiction. But it does acknowledge the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction that are often taboo to bring up. Speaking at a recovery meeting at one point in the film, Nic Sheff (played by Timothée Chalamet) talks about how drugs fill a “black hole” in him. Chalamet is the true highlight of the dark movie.
Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org