Dear Reader,

Back when cameras were one thing and phones another, my mother had to take film to the store to be developed before we could see our photos. Whenever she returned with fresh prints, my sisters and I eagerly thumbed through them. Then she arranged the pictures on adhesive pages in a family album, discarding only those that were hopelessly out of focus.

These days I take photos with my smartphone, which allows me to immedi­ately inspect them and decide which ones to crop, alter, or delete. I’m left mostly with close-ups of smiling faces, the best of which I circulate online as proof — to myself as much as to family and friends — that I am living a good life. I share snapshots of my children laughing together instead of bickering or ignoring each other; of my husband and me in a rare moment of playful exuberance while on vacation; of our garden after it’s watered and freshly mulched instead of wilting and overrun with weeds. From what I see on social media, it seems that other people are as selective as I am. Sometimes, after scrolling through so many celebratory pictures, I start to feel as if I am somehow lacking — until I remind myself that, despite appearances, no life unfolds as a series of picture-perfect moments.

It’s only human to want to present our best face to the world, but The Sun strives for more than that. Rather than publish relentlessly upbeat content, we seek out writers who are willing to be vulnerable on the page, who would rather be honest than envied, and who expose uncomfortable truths rather than obscure them. Our interviews feature philosophers and scientists, activists and spiritual teachers, and other independent thinkers who dig deep into complex issues, going beyond divisive rhetoric and short-term fixes to speak to our common humanity.

One reason we don’t print advertisements is that we want The Sun to be as intimate and authentic as possible. This means relying on our subscribers instead of ad revenue to stay afloat. But finding readers for a magazine that doesn’t promise its audience a seductive escape from reality continues to be challenging. Some distributors refuse to place The Sun on newsstands, insisting that, without the heft of advertising pages, the magazine is too slender and not “commercial” enough. Simply by printing ads, we’ve been told, we could double the magazine’s thickness and enhance its “perceived value.” But what we value is fearless writing without the distraction of advertising — and we trust that our readers value it, too.

If anything in The Sun has moved you recently — if an essay, story, interview, poem, or photograph caused you to stop and reflect, or an author made you feel like a trusted confidant — then please consider sending us a tax-deductible donation as a Friend of The Sun. Your gift will allow us to pay writers and photographers decently and to give away subscriptions to prisons, libraries, and individuals who have fallen on hard times. It will also ensure that The Sun continues arriving in your mailbox every month regardless of whether postal rates increase again or the price of paper goes up or other unexpected challenges arise.

When I visited my parents last summer in New Mexico, my father and I took an evening hike. As the sun sank behind the mountains and the air cooled, we talked about our relationship, which hasn’t always been easy, and we expressed appreciation for each other. Later that night I pulled a photo album from the bookshelf. Among snapshots of holidays and birthdays and vacations I came across one of me sitting alone in our old apartment, my face sullen and tearful. I must have been about thirteen at the time. I didn’t recall why I was upset, but I did remember my father trying to convince me to join my sisters on the couch for a family portrait. When I’d refused, he had taken this shot instead. Seeing it stirred up memories of feeling misunderstood and resenting my father. It was definitely not the sort of picture I would share on social media, but I was glad my mother had preserved it in the family album, because the photograph reminded me that we’re all able to change, and that though adversity may harden our hearts, it can also deepen our compassion. Our lives are so much messier than the polished images we’re inclined to share with the world — and so much more compelling. Beneath every shiny surface lies a different kind of beauty. That’s what we try to uncover with each issue of The Sun.


Krista Bremer
Associate Publisher

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