Into the Weeds (and the Woods) [Radio Readings]

My new, weekly radio program, Fights in Good Faith, premiers today.  You'll be able to stream it live here on Real Life Radio at 5pm Eastern, and you can catch it again on Sunday at 1pm.  After it airs, the audio will be available on my show's page.  And, in the meantime, here's the 30 second promo for the show:Every Saturday, before the show airs, I'll be posting on the blogs to share links to all the major books, songs, concepts that I mention on the show.  So, while you're listening, i … [Read more...]

Ethical Edge Cases So Sharp You’ll Cut Yourself

I've run into three considerations of hypotheticals (two of them in the last week) that all seem to fall into a pattern.  First up. there's this dialogue, related to me by a friend who teaches a second grade catechism class. (They were discussing how the disciples of Christ spread the gospel). Teacher: If you had to spread a message today, how would you do it? Second Grader: I'd capture a mountain lion and tame him and ride him so fast. Teacher: Hmmm... That might not work if the mountain … [Read more...]

“I like to ask: What is my opponent in love with?”

Back when I was in Ireland, giving a talk on ways to have better fights about religion, I did a short interview with a local news outlet, and I've just found the video.  In our conversation, I talk a little about my own conversion, and why my approach to argument resembles Ender's empathetic approach to a fight: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand … [Read more...]

Avoiding Glib Grace-Notes in Advent

Yesterday I talked about trying to find an Advent discipline that wasn't just hard-for-the-sake-of-hard, but that would form my conscience in some way.Here's my attempt: I'm trying to undertake a conversational fast this Advent season.  I want to avoid using any one-liners or other kinds of glancing, meant-to-be funny comments in conversation.It's not that I want to make Advent humor-free -- I'd still be allowed to tell a funny story or an actual joke -- I'm looking to prune the comments … [Read more...]

And You Shall Know the Free Thinkers By Their Cussing?

Last week, an atheist friend of mine posted a link to Mark Oppenheimer's feature article on misogyny in the atheist movement, sharing a quote and a comment: "Jillette embodies that side of the freethought movement that prizes absolute free speech above feelings."In other words, the only side that enables free thought, period. The Oppenheimer article had written up several instances of alleged sexual abuse or harassment, but Penn Jillette had wound up included in the piece because he … [Read more...]

My turn to play #mencallmethings

After a little more than four years of blogging, last night is the first time I got called a c-word online.  And then it happened again.  And then again. What provoked this?  These two tweets: Not going back to the convenience store on the corner after clerk aggressively asked for my number (but not my name) #YesAllWomen I really don't like that sketchy clerks, etc can de facto bar me from places, since it's imprudent to return & keep saying no #YesAllWomen It was medium-unpleasant en … [Read more...]

Fixing Fights in Ireland

I had a great time speaking at the offices of The Irish Catholic this past week on tactics for having better fights about religion.  It also wound up being written up for The Irish Times by Breda O'Brien.  The video is now up on, plus, I've embedded it below:Often, here on the blog, I talk mostly about tactics for online fights, but, during the talk and the Q&A, more of the focus was on engineering productive conversations between small groups or even pairs of people, rat … [Read more...]