Good Reads: In this broken world

This post is part of a series recommending narrative, longform journalism articles — the type of writing I’m nothing short of obsessed with.

In this broken world, we find beauty.

We find joy.

We find hope.

And sometimes, we find things that makes our hearts hurt. Things that are ugly and difficult, but real and deserve to be recognized. Last night, it was a piece on male-to-male prison rape — which isn’t better or worse than male-to-female, but isn’t typically the first thought on our minds when we talk about trying teens as adults and sending young men (who in many ways are still boys) to adult prisons, boys among men.

Prison is a scary place and a lot of that is because of the inmates (though guards certainly play their part as well). I believe in punishing crimes, I believe in holding people accountable for their actions, but when I read an article like this I have no words. Certainly, a prison system that permits inmates to commit these kinds of crimes is not a prison system that is adequately punishing criminals, nor is causing criminals grief for their actions, nor is truly rehabilitating inmates to embrace lives lived right.

And beyond structural failures, the fact that this is a reality at all, that human beings are such monsters to each other, only confirms the truth that this world is broken and that evil flows from the hearts of men (Mark 7:21-23).

I recommend The Marshall Project‘s “A Boy Among Men, but it is not appropriate for all audiences and may awaken dark memories in rape victims. Please use your own discretion.

Other good reads:

A Brutal Beating Wakes Attica’s Ghosts: A prison, infamous for bloodshed, faces a reckoning as guards go on trial by Tom Robbins, The New York Times

This piece covers prison guard brutality at Attica, a maximum-security prison in western New York, while reminding us also of the other side: a historic prisoner insurrection that took place at Attica in the 70s. A difficult piece, but well done.

Grounded: Cheryl Stearns was on a mission to collect her 20,000th skydive, until things down on earth got complicated by Michael Graff, Charlotte Magazine

If you haven’t heard of Cheryl Stearns (I never had), read this piece and realize you’ve been missing out — this woman has jumped out of more planes than most people flown in. So what kept her from her 20,000th dive? I’ll give a hint: it wasn’t a skydiving accident.

Gone Hiking: Terminal cancer. What would you do if your doctor delivered the scariest two words in the English language? Andy Lyon went for a hike. by Casey Lyons, Backpacker

This story is plain old beautiful. If you’ve read or seen Wild, you’re familiar-ish with the Pacific Crest Trail and the life events that often drive people to thru-hike. This story is one of those, and it’s incredibly well-told. When you finish, you feel like you’ve met Andy Lyon and spent a long evening conversing with him. I may have cried.

The Deepest Dig: The bottom of the ocean is the most remote, least understood place on Earth. But that isn’t stopping us from mining it. by Brooke Jarvis, The California Sunday Magazine

When scientists need funding and companies need people who know science, the resulting partnerships can look a bit bizarre. Like Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover and Canadian company Nautilus.

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