Issue 32: Family

In the earliest biblical description of human beings, we are told to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28), yet two chapters later we read of the harsh reality of barrenness, a recurring theme in the Scriptures. We sometimes speak of salvation as an entrance into a new family—the church—and  God’s people are thus said to be God’s children, but Christ himself spoke of the need to hate one’s father, mother, and partner in order to enter into discipleship. Christians baptize their infants and train their young into their faith, the Catholic Church calls family the “domestic church,” and the Protestant philosopher G. W. F. Hegel argued that the family is the base unit of society, but through these very units, Christianity has helped to produce and maintain patriarchy, with the notion of family often functioning as a sort of Christianized fetish. The boundaries, values, and status of the modern nuclear family and the role of faith in family formation are continually up for debate as we ponder, what, in fact, constitutes a family.

In this issue of The Other Journal, we take up some of the most pressing, family-related questions of our time: What is the nature of family? What are the ways the Christian theological tradition has understood or misunderstood family? What is the family of God, and who do we erroneously leave out or mischaracterize when we think of faith in this way? What role has our understanding of the modern family played in shaping and determining our understanding of the family of God? What are the ways in which Christian thought and practices maintain traditional family logics? Or how do Christianity’s varied conceptions about family name antifamily practices and influence our present moment?

In this issue’s essays, creative writing, art, and reviews, our contributors tackle this theme eclectically as they explore everything from familial responsibility and the formation of alternative family structures to the interrogation of patriarchy’s place in the theological tradition. We hope it proves to be a timely and helpful resource.

Dennis Vannatta

Fortunate Fall

Dennis Vannatta tells a story about confronting one’s past—and then one’s future.

Rachel Sturges

Love Bombing

Rachel Sturges looks into the lives of a fisherman’s daughters.

Veronica Toth

A Study in Superfluity

Veronica Toth explores utilitarianism through intellectual history and lived experience.

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Liz Charlotte Grant

Shelter Out of Place

Liz Charlotte Grant discovers how hard it is to shelter in place when trying to sell a home.

Bruce T. Morrill

Jesuit Life, Family Life

Bruce Morrill employs a Jesuit narrative technique to describe tensions between life in the religious order and family life.

Jonathan Hiskes

Fatherly Rage

Jonathan Hiskes grapples with parental anger amid the tedium and injustice of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joanna Manning

Finding Stillness

Joanna Manning discovers the peaceful center to grief.

Jack Harrell

Wounds and the Wounded

Jack Harrell explores the reality of faith and doubt with two old friends and a shotgun.

Grace Kearney

Corpus Christi

Grace Kearney explores the link between Catholicism and medicine through three generations.

Martin Achatz

Strawberry Picking

Martin Achatz strolls through strawberry fields in search of God.

Martin Achatz

Heart to Heart

Martin Achatz meditates on the crowded ventricles and atrias of maternal hearts.

Katie Prudek Lin

Perinatal Eucharist

Katie Prudek Lin explores Christ as Mother, with a little help from Julian of Norwich and her own experience of childbirth.

Todd Copeland


Todd Copeland reflects on the gift of memory, tools, and family.

Todd Copeland


Todd Copeland reflects on darkness.