The Atheist Who Spoke to God

In high school I sang with a four part harmony ensemble. Three friends and I brushed up on spirituals, madrigals, and little-known choral works by major composers, and worked with a music teacher to polish them to perfection. Then we would perform in concerts with other students, our singing complementing piano pieces and string quartets. [Read More…]

Beyond the Moral Horizon

There is a scene in the movie Lincoln in which Congress is debating the 13th Amendment The debate is passionate, raucous, each side denouncing the other in the strongest moral terms. Then George Yeaman, Representative from Kentucky, takes the floor, and says: “Although I’m disgusted by slavery, I rise on this sad and solemn day to announce that [Read More…]

Where Do You Belong?

Today at the Ethical Society of St. Louis we had the pleasure of hosting Dale McGowan, editor of Parenting Beyond Belief and all-around great guy. After he spent some time speaking with parents of children in our Sunday Ethical Education for Kids program, he gave our Sunday address, and something he said stuck with me: he said [Read More…]

In Art, Intention Isn’t Gospel

I love Stephen Sondheim. I know – “Gay Man Loves Stephen Sondheim!” is not going to make headlines anywhere soon. But it’s still true. I adore his musicals – and not just the most famous ones. When I was in high school I performed in a production of Assassins, a strange work which sets to music every presidential [Read More…]

What Do You Teach Your Kids About Religion?

Today’s Friday Forum, and I have a question for you: What do you teach your kids about religion? Whether you’re religious or not, do you try to raise your children to share your beliefs? Do you intentionally introduce them to different ways of thinking? If you are religious, do you require them to participate in religious [Read More…]

The Magic and Mechanics of MMOs

I remember Everquest. I remember running through the treetop city of Kelethin, taking care not to fall from the wooden platforms connecting tree to tree. I remember dodging Sand Giants on the beach of the Oasis of Marr. I remember fleeing frantically through the narrow corridors of the dark dungeon of Befallen, ghouls and mummies grasping [Read More…]

When is it Right to Take Action?

In my conversations about the ongoing protests in Ferguson and St. Louis one argument from those who do not support the protests has become a refrain: how can we protest against the shooting of Mike Brown when we don’t yet know all the facts? This is not a totally ridiculous question. We don’t know all [Read More…]

The Future of “Temple of the Future”

This blog has been quiet a while. Partly, that’s because I’m busy: I recently moved to St. Louis and started a new job, and I’m struggling to finish a book and a doctoral dissertation. My time to blog has therefore been dramatically reduced. But it also reflects a lack of clarity in my own mind as [Read More…]

The Art of Social Protest

Protest is an art form: a way of bringing to the surface structural inequality and injustice so that people can glimpse, if only for a moment, the invisible cage which constantly imprisons oppressed people. Artful protests reveal inequalities in surprising and provocative ways while remaining non-violent and invitational, inspiring people to think and act differently rather [Read More…]

Who Gets a Platform on the College Campus?

When I was an undergraduate, the Cambridge Union invited Jean-Marie Le Pen – then Leader of the National Front Party of France – to debate immigration. Le Pen is a highly polarizing figure: a darling of the French right wing, and a demon to the left. Seen (rightly, I think) as a race-baiting, foreigner-hating, anti-semitic, [Read More…]