Cassandra Nelson is an Associate Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, where she writes about faith, literature, and technology. She previously taught literature and composition at Harvard University and the United States Military Academy.


MAY 2022: “A Theology of Fiction,” in the April issue of First Things. An expanded version is forthcoming late summer from Wiseblood Books.

APRIL 2022: “Readiness is Not All,” in The Point magazine. A departure from my usual faith and fiction beat, to consider the role of the U.S. military–which, this essay prompted me to realize, has shaped my life for seven years now: first as a Department of Defense civilian employee in the Dept. of English and Philosophy at West Point, and then as a military spouse for three years and counting. For the spring issue of The Point, I offered a response to their symposium, which asks, “What is the military for?”

In my essay, I try to understand the military’s current emphasis on readiness: what it is, how it’s defined in Army Doctrine and used in DoD rhetoric, and how an over-reliance on technology and metrics has led to unintended consequences for soldiers and families alike.

If you’re at all curious about the contemporary military, please take a look. I promise there’s no jargon, and I’m told there’s more humor than you might expect.