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Common Good’s 10 Most-Read Articles of 2021

Love 'em or hate 'em, you read 'em.

Because we publish words on the internet, now is time to look back at the year. So here are our top 10 most-read articles published in the year 2021.

10. What Is Economic Wisdom?

By Tom Nelson

You might think, since I'm a pastor, that my most frequent conversations with people are about the struggles in their relationships, marriage, or singleness, which is true. I have a lot of conversations about those things. I also have conversations about people's spiritual struggles, their doubts, their existential angst. But my most common conversation with people actually centers around economics.

09. What Does Neuroscience Have to Do with Spiritual Growth

By Tom Nelson

Driving is one of those things that can bring out the worst in me. Recently, I arrived at an intersection ahead of the car to my left. Instead of yielding, the driver floored it and sped right in front of me. I was ticked off. I felt my heart beating in my chest, my blood pressure rising. How dare he do that to me? Who does he think he is? When I paused long enough to calm my heart down, and reflected on my overreaction, it painfully reminded me how lacking in a Christlike way my response had been to a discourteous driver. When I least expected it, my inner world was on display before me — and it wasn’t pretty.

08. Confused at Work? You’re Not Alone

By Missy Wallace

In early 2020, as the pandemic increased and the world shut down, our news feeds felt heavy with articles from the marketplace touting waves of layoffs and predictions of a second major depression as unemployment and furloughs reached rates not seen in this generation. A year later the statistics around jobs remain unclear.

07. How To Think About the Sluggish Return in Church Attendance

By Helen Hummel

Almost 18 months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic forced churches across America and around the world into radical change. The rapid spread of the coronavirus left congregations with empty pews and live-streamed or recorded services for the first time in history. This summer, Gallup began to point to some hopeful trends showing a steady return to in-person church attendance. In May, 20 percent of American adults said they attended a place of worship in person during the previous week — a significant increase from only three percent just a year prior. However, even combined with those who participated online, this statistic represented a record-low in church attendance since Gallup started measuring this trend in 1939. Even before the pandemic, a similar trend was at work.

06. What Bob Ross Can Teach Us About Faith and Work

By John Terrill

I recently watched with interest CBS Sunday Morning’s featured segment on Bob Ross, the unlikely, yet iconic, television personality who, through his 12-year PBS show, The Joy of Painting, inspired Americans from 1983 to 1994. Ross — a denim-clad folk hero with a permed afro bigger than life — was a soft-spoken teacher who launched his on-air artistry at WIPB in Muncie, Indiana, home of the famous Middletown sociological case studies exploring quintessential small-town America (1929-37).

05. The Good Life, According to Data

By Tyler VanderWeele

When you think about the quest for what we call human flourishing, you normally think in terms of theology or philosophy. Maybe sociology. Of all the -ologies and disciplines, the empirical sciences may be the last you think of. Which is what makes Harvard’s human flourishing program interesting. The man leading that effort is Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard and director of the program. He talked to Common Good in March.  

04. How I'm Learning to Honor the Vocations of Women in My Congregation

By Eric Schumacher

From the time I was born until around the age of 12, my mother worked at home. Her primary job revolved around raising three boys, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and the other labors associated with being a homemaker. My parents never taught or implied that a woman shouldn’t work outside the home. I wasn’t told that a woman’s place is in the home and a man’s is in the office. That just happened to be the structure of our family. But personal experiences often become expectations about what's normative.

03. The Quiet Art of Being Wrong

By Abby Perry

In a world of uncertainties, a few things stay true. What goes up must come down, for example. That whole death and taxes axiom seems pretty consistent. One more thing that stays true? Everyone is wrong sometimes. With the exception of those who are wholly narcissistic, we all recognize that last one as objectively true. But when it comes to the day-to-day, when it comes to personally admitting that we were wrong about something? Well, that can be a bit more complicated.

02. I Love Work. Can I Still Love My Family?

By Phylicia Masonheimer

I was 25 years old and working full time for a university when I got the news. My husband and I were delighted! What could be more exciting? As we set up the nursery, folded tiny clothes, and signed up for birthing classes, I began conversations with my employer to move my desk job to a remote position. This was seven years ago; remote positions weren’t quite the thing they are today. But I was determined to convince my supervisor that working remotely was a great idea.

After an in depth proposal and multiple reviews, my remote request was approved. I’d be able to work a job I loved and take care of my baby at home. It seemed like everything was going according to plan.

Until it wasn’t.

01. How to Talk About Black Christians in the Story of America

By Jasmine Holmes

The story of faithful Black Christians can help us take the focus from one nation’s faithfulness or folly to the faithfulness of God considering every nation’s inevitable folly.
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