The Slippery Nature of Suffering: How Do We Decide What Makes Suffering Unbearable?

In Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, young Jonas knows nothing—absolutely nothing—about pain and suffering until after his twelfth birthday. Jonas’s community (which exists in a post-apocalyptic future) is safe and efficient. Not only do the community’s residents not experience pain and suffering due to warfare, illness or disability, unemployment, family discord, or any other cause, [Read More...]

On Going Viral

Well, this has been interesting. As of right now, my post on “Why I am a Christian Democrat” has nearly 30,000 Facebook “likes” and almost 350 comments. This has never happened to me before. It’s exciting, gratifying, and a little exhausting. The gratifying part: I’ve heard (on the blog and privately) from many people who [Read More...]

Remembering Louis: On the Limits of Charity and the Need for a Government Safety Net

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It took me a while to figure Louis out. Like all of the people, mostly single men, who came to the social service agency where I worked as an employment counselor, he was struggling and looking for help. He was homeless and unemployed. Unlike many of our agency’s program participants, he had no history of [Read More...]

Why I am a Christian Democrat

A friend recently watched, helpless and aggrieved, as her husband—a philosophy professor at a conservative Christian university—was pummeled online for co-writing an essay with a fellow professor on why they will not vote for Mitt Romney. Many readers claimed to be disgraced, disgusted, and just plain flummoxed as to how professing Christians could argue against [Read More...]

On Writing, Reading, and Seeking Direction

I feel I owe regular readers of this blog an apology…or at minimum, an explanation. Save for a passionate and far-too-long-to-be-seemly post about homework in my children’s elementary school, I haven’t written much in about 10 days. Some fine questions in the comments section about my post on gender selection remain unanswered. I have always [Read More...]

Homework: A Parent’s Plea for Quality over Quantity

Note to my regular audience: This blog post is  meant to jump start a conversation about homework at my children’s elementary school, so it may or may not be of interest to you. That said, if you have experience as a parent and/or a teacher and can chime in with some homework wisdom, I hope [Read More...]

Christian Ethics 101: Ethical Decisions about Money, How We Live, and Our “Stuff”

This week, in the class I’m teaching at my Episcopal Church on Christian Ethics, we focused on questions around money, and specifically around how we spend our money to support a particular way of life. So often, when we think of ethical questions, we think of hot-button issues—abortion, assisted suicide, gay marriage. So why am [Read More...]

Christian Ethics 101: What Makes Ethics “Christian”?

I am teaching a five-week course at my Episcopal church on Christian ethics. In tandem with the class, I’m going to post a “Christian Ethics 101″ column on the blog once a week, reflecting on what my class participants and I discussed the previous Sunday. What do we mean by “Christian ethics”? Ethics in general [Read More...]

Why Allowing Parents to Choose Their Baby’s Gender is Wrong

When I write and speak about the ethical questions raised by reproductive technologies, I do not argue that reproductive technologies are all good or all bad, or that using these technologies is clearly right or clearly wrong. My agenda, rather, is to encourage more robust and informed conversations around these technologies, because the science has [Read More...]

Patheos (& Other) Peeps: LaVonne Neff on Healthcare Rationing

On Fridays, I publicize work by other writers. I focus often but not exclusively on writers affiliated with Patheos, the religion and spirituality web portal that hosts my blog. Please share the love by reading these writers’ blog posts and books, sharing them via Facebook, Twitter, etc., and/or participating in online conversations with them. Although [Read More...]

What Shane Claiborne (& Mother Teresa!) Got Wrong: On Being the Body of Christ with Imperfect Bodies

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Last spring, I heard a terrific talk from Shane Claiborne at the Festival of Faith & Writing. Claiborne, a prominent voice in progressive Christian circles, lives in Philadelphia’s inner city, where he and the other inhabitants of the Simple Way community practice a “new monasticism.” They value hospitality and communal living, seek to build relationships [Read More...]

I’m Off (Following the Connecticut Author Trail…)

I’m taking a couple of days off of blogging. Today, my pal (and very talented writer…preorder her book!) Rachel Stone is crossing Long Island Sound to hang with me. Tonight, she and I, and a couple of other friends, will go to a big shindig at the Mohegan Sun Casino honoring the 2012 Connecticut Authors [Read More...]


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