October 27, 2022

Halloween is coming–one of my least favorite holidays of the year. I know that offends many people, but so be it. Still, the onset of Halloween brings back memories–many of them religion and church related. Maybe that’s why I don’t like the holiday! As a 66-year-old guy with no small children in my life, I don’t do Halloween. In the past Jeanne and I have celebrated the day by going to a late afternoon movie, followed by dinner, so we... Read more

October 25, 2022

We should read the New Testament as saying that how we treat each other on earth matters a great deal more than the outcome of debate concerning the existence or nature of another world. Richard Rorty, “Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes” One of the many things I enjoy about teaching philosophy is that I regularly get to engage with students in studying the texts of thinkers labelled as “dangerous” or worse by various authority figures in my youth. Darwin . .... Read more

October 22, 2022

Today’s gospel lectionary reading reminds me of an August day several years ago when the small Episcopal church that I frequently attend moved its morning services out of the sanctuary out “into all the world” on a beautiful summer morning, heading a half mile down the road to a town park on Narragansett Bay. A small table in the gazebo served as the altar, as twenty-five or so 8:00 service regulars enjoyed a modest version of taking the gospel into... Read more

October 20, 2022

Natural disasters have been on my mind recently. Perhaps it’s because of the fury of Hurricane Ian a few weeks ago, devastating an area of Florida where my son and daughter-in-law lived for several years and where many of their friends lost everything in the storm. Perhaps it’s because a seminar on Enlightenment satire early in the semester got me to thinking about the devastating 1755 Lisbon earthquake  described in Voltaire’s Candide.  Perhaps it is because our seminar text in... Read more

October 18, 2022

A few weeks ago in the interdisciplinary Honors course that I am team-teaching in this semester, we are smack in the middle of the 18th century. And that, among other things, means satire. I love satire and frequently use it in class to great effect, an effect heightened by the fact that the average nineteen-year-old can’t tell the difference between satire, irony, and a spreadsheet (even when they are in the Honors program). The texts for our satire seminar included... Read more

October 16, 2022

Over the years that I have been writing this blog, those who describe themselves as non-believers or atheists have frequently expressed a consistent confusion and frustration. It usually goes something like this: “How can someone who seems to be relatively normal and intelligent believe in something without any evidence?” I don’t get defensive when asked this and similar questions—I don’t want to be that sort of Christian. I often reply by suggesting that there is evidence to support my faith,... Read more

October 13, 2022

Back in December 2020, about a month after the November 2020 presidential election, I posted an essay on this blog called “Will Goodness Become Cool?” I wrote that As President-elect Biden rolls out his National Security choices, his economic strategy team, his communications staff, and various Cabinet picks, I can feel the heart rates of millions of my fellow American lowering as we also remember what deep breaths feel like. Competence. Experience. Lifelong commitment to service. On Facebook, I posted... Read more

October 11, 2022

Yesterday was Columbus Day. Correction, it was Indigenous Peoples Day. This is not energized by political correctness. It is energized by the truth, by accurate history, and by a recognition of the damage and carnage that human beings do to each other for all sorts of reasons. In the honors interdisciplinary program I teach in, my colleagues and I have chosen over the past two years to make the texts for the seminar closest to Indigenous Peoples Day a selection... Read more

October 9, 2022

Human beings never behave so badly as when they believe they are protecting God. Barbara Brown Taylor Every time someone claims that we live in a country founded on “Christian principles,” I think of Benjamin Franklin. His Autobiography is often a text at the appropriate time in the interdisciplinary program I teach in—it’s short, pithy, no nonsense and quintessentially American. Exactly what I would expect from Ben. He doesn’t say a lot about organized religion other than to express his distaste... Read more

October 6, 2022

A bit over a week ago at my brother-in-law’s wake, I spent several minutes chatting with my niece-in-law’s husband (which I guess makes him my nephew-in-law-in-law). He was sitting quietly in a seat in the back row of chairs while just about everyone else was working the room. It struck me that sitting quietly with Matt was a good idea. We often gravitate toward each other whenever Jeanne’s large family gathers together because we share something in common. We are... Read more

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