The End of Dinesh D’Souza

Dinesh D'Souza (left); Denise Odie Joseph II (right)

I can’t say I’m sorry that anti-Obama propagandist and torture apologist D’Souza has been taken out of commission. The direct cause: he’s sleeping with a younger woman while separated but not yet divorced from his wife. While I find it frustrating that some conservative evangelical leaders were OK with his deceitful propaganda but are drawing the line at his having sex outside of wedlock, I say good riddance. [Read more...]

Christians look bad on Survivor… again


Survivor is obviously not reality. Of course the producers choose contestants who fit stereotypical character types. But it does come closer than most “reality shows” to showing real patterns in behavior. And once again, the worst of Christianity was on display. [Read more...]

Cultivating presence

Swedish river scene, Jan van Goyen, 1596-1656

I often hear people talking about living in the present moment as if it is a struggle, some cosmic game of attempting to grasp something that is fleeting, illusory. They say things like, “the moment I have it, it’s gone.” While this is true and can be frustrating, the last thing present moment awareness is about is grabbing serenity. Reducing worry and stress is just a happy side effect of cultivating presence, though; it’s not the point. The point of living in the moment is that the present moment is where reality is, where God is. When you remove the obstacles to being fully present, fully awake, you remove the obstacles to seeing the glorious reality of life, the presence of God’s love. [Read more...]

Voting on faith


As someone who was raised atheist and has gone through several religions during my spiritual journey, I don’t have a strong identification as something, and I have a deep respect for the common ground between most faiths. So when I consider the faith of a political candidate, it is not a question of denomination or even religion, but of where their beliefs point. [Read more...]

Kathie Lee Gifford drops a puppy on its head, then blames the puppy


This post is about a case of indecency — not of human cruelty but of human callousness and stupidity. It’s trivial in the midst of this political season, I admit, but it was so offensive to me that I want to go on the record. I’m talking, of course, about Kathie Lee Gifford dropping a puppy on its head on live TV, and then blaming the puppy. [Read more...]

Dinner — and the gospel


My church is the subject of a fantastic article, “Dinner — and the gospel — is served, at St. Lydia’s” by Ansley Roan in Duke Divinity’s publication Faith & Leadership. Volunteer cooks arrive at the Brooklyn Zen Center around 6 p.m. on Sunday nights. A chalkboard sign, the kind that might advertise a restaurant’s nightly [Read More...]

The Gossip Test — How to tell if your interest is justified


Last week I talked about the harm done by gossip — especially the harm we do to ourselves by creating separation between ourselves and an “other” and so creating separation from God’s love. OK, you’re saying, sure rumormongering and slander are bad, but I don’t see the harm in a little talking about people’s business when they’re not around — not in a hateful way, just being a little nosy. I’m trying to be helpful. And it’s fun. [Read more...]

Faith in pluralistic America’s politics — those who use it, misuse it and attack it


There is much that’s wrong with faith in politics today, but not just in how it is abused; also in how it is attacked. And there is plenty that’s right about it too. America is a unique experiment in building a secular pluralistic democracy that isn’t hostile towards religion. Religious affiliation and participation in America is high compared with other democracies, and I think that’s wonderful. I think the extreme secularists have it completely wrong when they see religion as the problem, especially when secularism is responsible for many of the problems. I welcome the inclusion of religion in the political sphere within the bounds set up by our founders. [Read more...]

Hildegard of Bingen: Loved by Pope Benedict and feminist scholars

Hildegard receives a vision and dictated it to her scribe, from the Liber Scivias

Hildegard was declared a Doctor of the Church Sunday by Pope Benedict. Here’s the piece I wrote a few months ago in anticipation of it:

My cat named Bingen passed away last year. There was nothing about her that recalled Saint Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B., but I was moved 15 years earlier to honor Hildegard in this silly way. Long before Pope Benedict elevated her to sainthood this May, Hildegard elicited this kind of admiration from a wide range of devotees. Feminists love her strength and the boldness with which she forced her way on the church patriarchy of her time. Alternative health advocates are drawn to her study of herbal medicine and botany and her insistence on recording this female wisdom in print. Mystics are moved by her visions, which she recorded in three volumes. Lovers of sacred choral music and liturgical drama are swept up by her compositions, including what is considered the first morality play, Ordo Virtutum, from 1151… [Read more...]

My take on the first debate


My take on the debate: Romney was obviously way more aggressive, but not necessarily convincing. Obama was in his professorial mode that people don’t love, though I like it fine. The result in my eyes was a draw — no knockouts, not super-zingers.

Did Obama miss lots of opportunities to go on the attack. Sure! But he’s not the type to do that and that’s part of what a lot of people like about him. He acted presidential, rather than like a candidate who has to deliver a knockout to stay relevant. Did this technical win help Romney? Sure. By maybe a point or two, but he’s 6 or 7 behind. [Read more...]