Best TV Streamed in 2015

This list is not necessarily my favorite new releases of the year. Instead, it is the best of the content I watched since this time last year. In addition, this list is in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun:1. Girls: Season 4 (HBO Now)2. The Good Wife: Season 6 (Amazon Prime)3. How to Get Away with Murder: Season 1 (Netflix)4. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Seasons 1 and 2 (HBO Now)5. The Leftovers: Seasons 1 and 2 (HBO … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2015

This list is not always my favorite new releases; instead, it is the best of the albums I listened to for the first time since last year — althought this year all the albums were released in 2015. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these albums: 1. Aquaria, Boots:The fact that you still can't mention Boots without also mentioning Beyoncé teaches two mournful lessons: 1) It's a mixed bag to start your ca … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Books Read in 2015

The following are the top ten best books I’ve read since this time last year, not the best books published in 2015. For those keeping track, five were published in 2015, four in 2014, and one in 2007. The list is also in alphabetical order by the author’s last name because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of remembering these books: 1. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007): All the adulation for the Broadway musical adaptation made me curious to read the o … [Read more...]

Why You Should See 2,700 (Not 12) Stars at Night: Reclaiming a Spirituality of Dark Skies

Today is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Here in the mid-Atlantic, we will have more than fourteen hours of darkness and only nine hours and 26 minutes of daylight. Although I will confess that I love the long, hot days of summer, I am coming to see the long nights of winter as an expanded opportunity to experience the importance of the dark. When was the last time you looked up in wonder at the grandeur of a starry sky and felt how small we humans are in the grand scheme of … [Read more...]

”Did God Have a Wife?”: Asherah, Heavenly Mother, & Mother Earth

In the theologically conservative Protestant Christianity of my childhood, the sacred was always imagined as masculine: God the Father Almighty, Lord Jesus Christ the son, both of whom were represented on Earth by an all-male clergy. As I grew older and learned more about other Christian traditions such as Roman Catholicism, I was fascinated by their devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus as also the mother of God, given their belief in the divinity of Jesus. And although she was, in some senses, … [Read more...]

Are You a Faitheist?

If you want to test how evolved you are as a person, the holidays often provide an annual testing ground for spiritual maturity. It’s easy to be blissful while sitting on the beach, hiking by yourself in the woods, or pausing to savor a sunset. But as the saying goes, “Our family can push our buttons the most, because our family members are the ones, who sewed our buttons on in the first place!” Our various complexes and neuroses are often forged in our childhood family systems. Or, even if your … [Read more...]

Lodro Rinzler’s Millennial Hipster Buddhism

I first learned about Lodro Rinzler through his Huffington Post online Buddhist advice column that at one time was called “What Would Sid Do?” ‘Sid’ is Rinzler’s nickname for Siddhartha Gautama, the name of the historical Buddha. Some classic “What Would Sid Do?” posts include:"Buddhism and Dating: Would Sid Join” "Buddhism and Alcohol: Is There Such a Thing as 'Right Drinking’?" "Buddhism and Activism: How Would Sid Produce Social Change?",  "Buddhist Breakup Advice,” and … [Read more...]

Why Peter Singer Hates on Guide Dogs & the “Make-a-Wish” Foundation: Reflections on “The Most Good You Can Do”

Recent new stories have ranged from the absurd to the inane, and most recently, to horror. The famed neurosurgeon and current presidential candidate Ben Carson confirmed that he continues to believe — despite all evidence to the contrary — that the Egyptian pyramids were not built as graves for pharaohs, but instead were built to store grain by Joseph, a character in the biblical book of Genesis. That’s absurd. There has also been a lot of inane hubbub about Starbuck’s plain red holiday coffee c … [Read more...]

“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...]