April 14, 2015

  Dr. Paul Offit was pretty sure that religion was harmful to children. But while writing his newest book on medicine, the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine was surprised by Jesus. Offit says he always had moderate respect for religion but started to doubt when, as a young attending physician, he saw five children die within 10 days during an outbreak of measles in Philadelphia in 1991. At the center of the epidemic were children who were unvaccinated in accordance... Read more

March 23, 2015

There were no shortage of nutty Christian diet books in and around the churches and homes I frequented as a child and teenager. Most notable among these, for me, was Gwen Shamblin’s Weigh Down Diet. For whatever help it may have offered to some people, for me, its directives — only eat when famished, take tiny bites, eat slowly, fill up your stomach with calorie free liquids, etc. — supplemented my already-regimented, calorie-counting ways. I’m thankful that The Weigh Down... Read more

February 6, 2015

Actually, it’s the exact opposite of that. Religion is sometimes said to make people abandon reason in order to maintain allegiance to their faith. But I’d say that American politics are threatening to do the very same thing. The President says “you should get your kids vaccinated” — mind you, he doesn’t mandate a thing — and vaccination instantly becomes a question of partisanship? Rand Paul and Chris Christie both stepped up quickly to bang the ‘freedom’ drum, as if... Read more

February 2, 2015

I’ll just make it clear from the outset where I stand: I believe that every Christian, especially the social justice minded, has a duty to vaccinate themselves and their children. For most of today I have been sitting on the couch with my nearly 7 year old son, who has been vomiting and taking tiny sips of water at regular intervals since 6:15 this morning. I am not particularly worried. He is already improving. I am sure it is some... Read more

January 23, 2015

This piece from The Onion, “I don’t vaccinate my child because it’s my right to decide what eliminated diseases come roaring back” is, next to Eula Biss’ sterling book, On Immunity, the most appropriate response to  the vaccine “controversy” that I have ever seen: As a mother, I put my parenting decisions above all else. Nobody knows my son better than me, and the choices I make about how to care for him are no one’s business but my own.... Read more

January 20, 2015

We live in a time in which most of us are so savvy that we’re in danger of being cynical; so wise to the way the world “actually” works and exploring the hidden side of everything that we are apt to do nothing. Foreign aid? Creates dependency, is imperialism disguised as benevolence, more harm than good. Altruism? Just another way of asserting one’s superiority, ensuring the survival of one’s seed; an ego stroke. “Gift” catalogs where little kids can “buy... Read more

January 14, 2015

It may not seem like it, but this is a question of serious theological import: it is definitely okay — no, more than merely ‘okay,’  it is meet and right and your bounden duty to audibly chew your communion bread in church. When I was a very small girl — no older than five or six — a young woman in our church, who I liked and admired a great deal, made an offhand comment, in reference to taking communion,... Read more

December 11, 2014

One of my sons talks a lot about death, and it comes up in the strangest conversational contexts. Such as: “I like to talk baby-talk.” “Why? Do you want to not grow up and always be my baby?” “No, I want to not grow up so I don’t have to die.” Yeah. Heavy thoughts going on inside that mind of his. He will then sometimes go on to enumerate his fears about people we know who are elderly, or who... Read more

December 6, 2014

Let me be clear: I do *not* think that right now is “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s rainy. And all the news is bad. You know it’s rough when you start to feel jealous of the cat. My cat spends his time with his head pressed against the heating grate, sleeping, or else eating. Eating. That is the great thing about this time of year. It’s good napping weather, sure, but it is... Read more

December 4, 2014

It is really no wonder that Western European Christians began celebrating Advent in the days and weeks leading up to the winter solstice, the time when the light starts creeping in, ever so slowly. But what’s weirdly incongruous is how American culture — and many churches right along with it — “celebrates Christmas”  beginning sometime in October or November with all the holly jollying and ebullient, sometimes false, cheer. I have heard that many Americans find themselves feeling depressed in... Read more

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