September 30, 2016

Hi friends, A quick note to let you know I’m taking a hiatus from Natural Wonderers, as I’ve begun writing a new book and need to focus my very-limited-even-on-the-best-days mental energy on that. In the meantime, consider finding me on Twitter or Facebook, checking out my column at the PBS NewsHour, or tracking me down at Brown Paper Press — a boutique publishing house I co-founded a couple of years ago. (@BrownPaperPress on all social media platforms.) Thanks so much for your support, everyone. Until next time… Wendy Read more

September 21, 2016

As some of you no doubt heard, President Barack Obama (boy, do I like still writing that) gave a stirring speech Sunday in which he pleaded with every African-American citizen to, GODDAMMIT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET OUT AND VOTE. Okay, he didn’t put it that way, but he may as well have, as emphatic as he was. “Our progress is on the ballot,” a emotionally charged Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the… Read more

September 8, 2016

As my legions (read: dozens) of loyal readers will no doubt recall, I recently reviewed a children’s book called Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet (illustrated by Karen Lewis). A beautiful and engaging tale told for very young children, the book is, bar none, the best book of its (admittedly kinda limited) genre that I’ve ever seen. Although Grandmother Fish was self-published after a very successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, Grandmother Fish was snatched up for wide distribution last year. The new, second edition… Read more

September 2, 2016

My daughter started her first day of fifth grade this week with a wonderful new teacher and, to my delight, the absence of one of the most annoyingly ubiquitous “tools” in modern classrooms today: the Behavior Chart. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those color-coded charts meant to represent your child’s  level of behavior that day. If kids are “good,” they get rewarded with a good color. If they’re “bad,” they’re punished with a bad color — which often accompanies some type of actual consequence. Four of Maxine’s five… Read more

August 23, 2016

Is it just me or does it seem, sometimes, that nonbelievers are more “tolerant” of people’s cultural beliefs than they are of people’s religious beliefs? Maybe that’s because culture implies something inclusive, unthreatening, even poetic; while religion implies something elitist, closed-minded — and not the least bit charming. I’m overgeneralizing here, of course, but hopefully you see my point. Like, when we think of “Nigerian culture,” we acknowledge how their history has led them to believe and behave certain ways. In visiting Nigeria, we might soak up the culture — acknowledging the negative, but appreciating… Read more

August 17, 2016

In celebration of my daughter’s 11th birthday — ELEVEN, PEOPLE — I offer you a post from five years ago. May the messy conversations continue. My 6-year-old likes to talk about God. She delights in the idea that the Big Guy upstairs made everything she sees around her. And she’s eager to explore why some people believe this, and others don’t. I do my best to explore along with her, but sometimes my best isn’t great. I misspeak and have to… Read more

August 10, 2016

“Where there’s a will, and there is a fucking will, there’s a way, and there is a fucking way. There’s always a fucking way.” — Sexy Beast (2000) This is the quote that first jumped to mind when I read about a Texas church hosting a children’s science camp with a heavy emphasis on — what else? — God. According to a story that ran in The Courier of Montgomery County, counselors at Mims Baptist Church in Conroe believe the power of God is demonstrated through science. And… Read more

August 3, 2016

An Irish news site posted a short video yesterday featuring four children talking about what it’s like to learn about religion in school — and there is ample evidence to suggest that it wins the week in videos. Exhibit A: There are few things more adorable than 11-year-old children speaking in Irish accents. I don’t mean that to be condescending; it’s just fact. Exhibit B: Two of the kids, classmates from a school in Dublin, are interviewed together and speak like a married couple, finishing each other’s… Read more

July 29, 2016

Today I relinquish this humble space to the words of Khizr Khan, the Muslim father of a fallen soldier — and war hero — who died protecting his American comrades in 2004. Delivered at last night’s Democratic National Convention, Khan’s words were few — but they were powerful. And his delivery was off-the-charts good. Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, Christian or Muslim, I hope you give this man your time. It is a speech for the ages. The full transcript is as follows: First,… Read more

July 26, 2016

Many years ago, I interviewed Dale McGowan, the director of growth and engagement here at Patheos and the editor/author of Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyond Belief. McGowan is an advocate for exposing children to a variety of religions firsthand and told me that, over the years, he has schlepped his own three kids to a host of temples, mosques, churches and synagogues — all to help them understand what religion is and how… Read more

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