February 18, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. My parents and I are on better terms, so we can laugh a little at the trauma experienced when I was younger. They both know, for instance, that in some ways the trauma I experienced in my family home was a stronger path to atheism than all my reading into different religions, science, history, and literature. I was the rare child who every Christmas watched It’s A Wonderful Life and wept… not because of the… Read more

February 15, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. A year ago I was saying goodbye to Canada, about to start my new life in Colombia. I had ever so much to learn: a lot more Spanish, the cadence of life in another culture, new administrivia, job markets, day-to-day dangers, and how to heal from the grief I was still carrying with me. But most importantly, I had to learn what I didn’t know, what I couldn’t have anticipated that I didn’t know. And that has… Read more

February 7, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. In this story, I’m obviously a secular humanist, because I’ve set up, over a series of essays here, an emphatic appeal for more humanistic voices at the fore of the secular front. Specifically, I want more voices to counteract the anti-theistic stridency associated with many non-religious spokespersons. More voices highlighting what we share, across the spectrum, in our efforts to improve the lot of fellow human beings. But then I read posts by others on Patheos who… Read more

February 5, 2019

Let’s begin with a poem. Specifically, a poem of mine published today for Rattle’s Poets Respond series. I had a good week as a writer: I sold a near-future sci-fi novelette set in Colombia to Analog Science Fiction & Fact, my fifth piece to this most long-standing of science-fiction magazines, and I sold this poem, “Intervention”, which is about Venezuela. Specifically, I used the story of my robbery, along with a few other encounters with Venezuelans in Colombia, to shift… Read more

February 1, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. This one comes from The Guardian, Jason Hickel’s opinion piece titled “Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong.” In it, Hickel argues that, although a body of neoliberal rhetoric claims a reduction of poverty over the last 200 years, this claim is based on a false premise. Namely, it takes as its starting point the idea that people with no income within traditional capitalist economies are intrinsically destitute. It therefore measures success by the… Read more

January 28, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. When my eldest nephew was a wee sprog of four, and on his annual weeklong visit to Aunt M L’s, a dear friend of mine joined us for a raspberry-picking adventure. She is a radiant human being with a beautiful smile, but my nephew was immediately afraid of her because of the clothes she was wearing. All black! Just like the “bad guys” in ever so many shows he learned from at his age. I… Read more

January 25, 2019

Let’s begin with a story–or so I was hoping to say, in a post this week about the problem of scale in sci-fi storytelling. I wanted to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in contemporary sci-fi regarding nuanced approaches to global-sized issues. And I will. I’ve simply postponed that essay because, well, this week Venezuela hit the news in a big way, and I started receiving notes of concern from folks worrying about how safe I am in… Read more

January 18, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. During my first Colombian Christmas, I took part in Novena–nine days of prayer and song mainly for the kids leading up to Christmas Day. I was in a Catholic household with children for whom the tradition is family-affirming… and a great many adults teasing me about what they assumed would be my difficulty reading in Spanish. So, I did what any normal humanist and human would do: I read some of the texts a) to bring… Read more

January 17, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. Specifically, Hao Jingfang’s Hugo-Award-winning “Folding Beijing”. It’s a novelette well worth the read, imagining a future city in which class structures are literally manifested by the Change, a transformation of cityspace that allows each economic tier its own turn awake on the surface, while all others sleep. The story focusses on one man with an opportunity to give his adopted daughter a better life, by slipping between class strata during the Change to deliver a… Read more

January 13, 2019

Let’s begin with a story. I start my posts with those words to call attention to the fact that everything I write is narrative. Well, obviously, some will sneer… but how often do we enact that “obvious” fact in our treatment of one another? A columnist collective like Patheos.com, where people generally negotiate authority claims in relation to their spirituality or atheism, is excellent territory for those who delight in leaping upon every perceived defect in others’ arguments. It’s by no… Read more

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