“How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible”


This past Tuesday was Election Day. But overshadowing any voting this week is the countdown to Election Day 2016, when the ballot will include the candidates seeking to become the 45th President of the United States. So as our nation increasingly turns its attention to November 8, 2016, I would like to explore some of the roots of the partisan divide in our county using The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible by David Sehat, an Associate P … [Read more...]

Vampires, Witches, & NPR: The Legacy of Margot Adler


I first heard Margot Adler’s voice on the radio — along with Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Lakshmi Singh, Sylvia Poggioli, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Kai Ryssdal, and so many others. I learned their names through repetition as they signed off at the end of new stories on “Morning Edition” or “All Things Considered”: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York. There were many opportunities to hear Adler, who was an NPR reporter for more than three decades prior to her death from cancer in 2014 at the far too young an … [Read more...]

“Do You Really Want to Know?” From Pope Francis & Kim Davis to Copernicus, Darwin, & Marx


The singer-songwriter Peter Mayer’s tune, “Do You Really Want to Know” traces two monumental paradigm shifts in how we humans understand ourselves. The first was the Copernican Revolution in the wake of astronomer Nicolai Copernicus’ 1543 book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, which demonstrated that our planet is not the center of the universe. The sun, moon, and stars do not revolve around us; we are merely the third rock from the sun. And I love Mayer's lyrically imagined conversa … [Read more...]

“Unsanctifying Human Life”: Wrestling with Peter Singer’s Ethics


Our human population has septupled (increased sevenfold) in a mere two centuries — from approximately 1 billion in 1800 to more than 7 billion today. The resulting environmental impact of our species is jeopardizing the entire planet’s climate. We have not, however, always been aware of our potential to have a cataclysmic effect on Earth. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about in her Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sixth Extinction, prior to fossil discoveries in the 1700s, we humans didn’t know that a … [Read more...]

Equal Access: The Ongoing Struggle for Disability Rights


This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is estimated to have improved the lives of 43 million U.S. citizens at the time of its passage (Nielson 180). Today approximately 20% of the U.S. population are people living with disabilities: “Some disabilities like diabetes, muscular sclerosis, and depression, can be invisible. Others, like deafness or vision loss, are not immediately noticeable. Some chronic illnesses, like hepatitis C or HIV, aren’t ap … [Read more...]

“The Peabody Sisters”


What stood out to me most from reading Megan Marshall's The Peabody Sisters (a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography) were the sections about the oldest and longest-living of the three sisters, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804 - 1894). But it is perhaps appropriate to begin with the Peabody Sisters’s own mother, Eliza, who strongly influenced her daughters. And whereas the lives of her daughters spanned almost the whole of the 1800s, Eliza came of age in the 1780s in t … [Read more...]