The Long Goodbye is poet Meghan O'Rourke's account of her mother's colorectal cancer and the year of mourning that followed her death. I read the book the first time through as a companion—O'Rourke's experience is eerily like my own.
Where I live at 10,200 feet, the
trees have not yet budded. May is still early, early spring in Leadville,
Colorado, but all around me is a sudden burst of gardening. For months, people
have been filling their homes with starter plants; now they're calling around
to see who has space for more in the few small greenhouses.
Eating at my city grandmother's table was a chore. I remember being dressed up, speaking in soft tones
if at all, and being terrified of spilling on that lace
tablecloth. But my country grandma served her meals in the kitchen.
There's a young man in my congregation--let's call him
"Michael"--who's trying to turn his life around. He's been in and out of
detention centers and prisons since he was 13. Over and over again, he was
caught stealing cars, smoking pot, breaking and entering; you name it, he's
done it. But now he's trying to change, to turn around.
The conventional wisdom has been that going to college leads people away from organized religion, and that was true for those born in the first part of the 20th century. But it’s not true for recent generations, says sociologist Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In fact, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are most likely to leave religion. “Americans born in the late 1920s and ’30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” said Schwadel. However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Among those born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.” Schwadel did not include millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—in the study because, he said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity (RNS).