March 8, 2019

In the seventeenth century, the English politician Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) wrote of all we might accomplish if not for our human limitations: “Had we but world enough and time.” Or as Chaucer penned three centuries earlier: “Time flies, and for no man will it abide.” Turning the clock back even further to the first century BCE, the Roman poet Virgil (70 BCE – 19 BCE) said, “Fugit irreparable tempus” (“Time flies irretrievably”) (Burdick 189). Despite the cautions of these and… Read more

February 21, 2019

Ginger Lerner-Wren thought she knew what she was getting into. In 1996, she ran as a candidate for a judgeship in Broward County, Florida. After being elected, she was on her way to serving as a judge in the Criminal Division. What she didn’t know is that six months into her tenure she would be asked to take on an additional part-time role presiding over the first mental health court in the United States. One of the reasons this court… Read more

February 12, 2019

Charles Darwin was born two hundred and ten years ago today on February 12, 1809. And in recent years his birthday has been celebrated as International Darwin Day, an annual opportunity to celebrate the principles that guided his life: “perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth.”   One tragedy of the ongoing “Creation vs. Evolution” debate is that coming to terms with Darwin’s theories of natural selection and common descent were among the greatest intellectual challenges of the late nineteenth… Read more

January 31, 2019

Adam Winkler (1967-) is a professor of constitutional law at UCLA. I first encountered him through his fascinating book Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. So I was intrigued when I discovered he published a second book on We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights. I’ve posted previously about Winkler’s first book, so I’ll limit myself to only one point from it for now. In the 2008 case District of Columbia v…. Read more

January 21, 2019

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am aware of two  significant—though also painful—anniversaries that feel important to name aloud.  This year is the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. This year is also the 100th Anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919, when there was a sharp spike in white people violently targeting African Americans, resulting in hundreds of deaths. I invite us to allow our awareness of these historic reminders… Read more

December 31, 2018

As I have been learning more about the hidden life of trees, I have also been paying more attention to how much trees have meant to people over time. Most recently, I was watching the Springsteen on Broadway recording on Netflix, and I was not surprised that as “The Boss” waxed nostalgically about his life, one vignette prominently featured a tree. Remembering his childhood home, he recalled that, In our front yard, only a few feet from our porch, stood… Read more

December 10, 2018

One of the most interesting contemporary religion scholars I have found is Jeffrey Kripal, a tenured professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I discovered his work about five years ago, and have followed his career with interest since then. Last year he published a book with the unusual title Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions (University of Chicago Press, 2017). A less academic way of saying “erotic and esoteric” is: “I’m going to tell you… Read more

December 6, 2018

A few months ago I finally had the chance to visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture in D.C. Tickets are free, but they remain in short supply. I have heard many people say that they are waiting to go until the lines to go down. I’m not sure if the lines will go down, so I encourage you not to wait. We were able to get tickets through their same-day timed entry passes, which are available… Read more

November 30, 2018

The late Alan Westin (1929 – 2013) was a Professor of Public Law & Government at Columbia University. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he wrote two major books on privacy, and it is no coincidence that both book titles include the word free: Privacy and Freedom (1967) and Databanks in a Free Society (1972). Keep that word freedom in mind because it is more important than might be initially clear. Privacy is about more than what you do… Read more

November 16, 2018

On the other side of Election Day, many systems of oppression remain in place, but there are also signs of movement and progress: “At least 100 women won House races, with 35 women newly elected to the House and 65 female incumbents. That bests the previous record of 85 representatives….” “Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress.” “Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will become the first Muslim women in Congress.” “Colorado’s Jared… Read more

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