October 16, 2019

In the 1946 classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Angel Second Class Clarence Oddbody is assigned as George Bailey’s guardian angel. It’s a challenging assignment; George has been driven to the brink of suicide by a series of unfortunate choices and circumstances. More than George’s life rides on Clarence’s success since Clarence, who has been a wingless angel for over a century, is guaranteed by his managing angel Joseph that if Clarence turns George around, he will finally earn his wings…. Read more

October 15, 2019

As the expected chaos and violence in Turkey and Syria continue to develop in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops back from the Syria/Turkey border, then remove them entirely from the area, many of the voices heard pushing back are from people who know what they are talking about. Former ambassadors, retired generals, and advisors to former Presidents and administrations are describing in detail just how ill-advised—and irreversible in terms of consequences—the President’s decision was. In… Read more

October 13, 2019

Evangelical Christian icon and fossil Pat Robertson lost it a few days ago. On his “The 700 Club” show on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Robertson had the following to say about Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the border between Syria and Turkey, thus exposing our ally Kurds to attack from Turkish forces. The president, who allowed [Washington Post journalist Jamal] Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds… Read more

October 11, 2019

One of my teaching colleagues and mentors used to love to tell the story of what happened one day after he and a colleague teamed up for a particularly impassioned lecture in the interdisciplinary course they were team-teaching. I no longer remember what he said the text or topic of the class was, but after class a usually silent back-row-sitting student came up from and said “Wow! You guys really take this stuff seriously!” Which raises the question: What would… Read more

October 9, 2019

One of my greatest joys as a philosophy professor is that I get to be bad on a regular basis. There were a number of people about whom I was told little growing up, other than that they are dangerous and to be avoided like the plague. I work out my rebellion against these restrictions now by ensuring that these thinkers make as many appearances on my syllabi as professional integrity will allow. So I teach Darwin with gusto in the… Read more

October 7, 2019

Jeanne and I are great lovers of movies. As I have described in this blog on several occasions, my all-time favorite movie is “Dead Poet’s Society;” Jeanne’s is “Chariots of Fire.” But a different movie that appears on both of our “top ten” lists—a movie that I am thinking of frequently these days as politicians seek to attract the attention and support of the good citizens of the heartland—is “Field of Dreams.” The story is familiar to most everyone—pure magic with Kevin… Read more

October 5, 2019

I was reminded yesterday that exactly eight years ago, one of my favorite pictures of my beloved dachshund, Frieda, was taken. I was the lector for “Blessing of the Animals” Sunday, celebrated at our Episcopal church the first Sunday in October in conjunction with Saint Francis day. Jeanne and I brought our three dogs (two dachshunds and a Boston terrier) to be blessed by our rector and good friend Marsue; I carried Frieda with me to the lectern as I… Read more

October 3, 2019

Given my teaching schedule this semester, I begin each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday on the aerobic bike at the gym on campus. The only way I can get through the tedium of working out on an aerobic machine is to read—last Tuesday, I read the opening pages of Anne Lamott’s newest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. I love Anne Lamott’s work—her honesty, fearlessness, humor, and insight always resonate deeply. The best comment anyone ever made about my writing was that… Read more

October 1, 2019

For those who claim to be persons of Christian faith and who also are largely unconcerned with the radical inequities of wealth in our contemporary world, last Sunday would have been a good day to stay away from church. The lectionary readings for the day began with Amos announcing divine judgment on those who “are at ease in Zion,” who “lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches,” and who indulge in music, wine, and luxuries while ignoring… Read more

September 28, 2019

I am pleased to announce that my new book, Prayer for People Who Don’t Believe in God, will be released by Wood Lake Publishing on Tuesday, October 1. The promotional materials describe my book as an exploration of How prayer has power for those who are opening themselves to the “possibility of God.” This book is steeped in the ideas and issues that I engage with regularly in this blog. You will be able to find information about how to order my new book… Read more

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