December 20, 2014

I am a runner and four or five days a week, in the dim early hours of morning, I jog around town. My path is usually the same, I hug the nearby river as closely as possible, and pass the same houses and landmarks. There’s something comforting about the familiarity the route offers, it’s part of my get-ready-for-the-day-ahead routine. One morning, about ten years ago, I noticed something odd during my run. It was early-December, a garbage day, and one… Read more

December 15, 2014

His name is Johnny and in his daydreams we meet regularly in Washington Square Park, not far from where I work in New York City. He spent a few months in the city in 1968 and has fond memories of his visit. But, this being 2014, we actually meet online. Johnny commented on one of my Wake Up Call columns several months ago and we took the conversation offline. Since then, we have been communicating almost daily  via e-mail. Johnny is an… Read more

December 1, 2014

Some books and authors try to define the nature of God and Lord knows I have tried this futile exercise myself. But in reality I believe God is undefinable, beyond our ability to be adequately explained. Albert Einstein may have described this best when he was asked to provide “the ultimate explanation of the world”. His response to this unanswerable question: “I can not tell you in words, but I can play it on the violin.” The words that resonate… Read more

November 25, 2014

I wrote here last year about a Thanksgiving prayer you can say all-year round. And I was recently reminded again of the importance of giving daily thanks for the good in our lives, via my favorite spiritual primer, The Worldwide Laws of Life by John Templeton. Templeton has written much about gratitude, advising us to “give praise and be thankful”, not in blind obedience to God, but because it “can open the door to the increased flow of abundance” in… Read more

November 12, 2014

I consider myself a spiritual guy. Though I’m a lapsed Catholic, I believe in God. I meditate and pray daily. I like nothing better than to spend an hour or two reading a good spirituality book. Oh, and I write the Wake Up Call column here at Patheos. Yet, there is a side to me that craves more than just a fulfilling spiritual life. While the party-all-the-time days of my youth are long gone, I still like to engage in activities… Read more

October 31, 2014

What do you do if you’re a man of the cloth and have a UFO-related experience? I’m not talking about a run-of-the-mill flying saucer sighting, but a middle-of-the-night visitation by a gray alien—an incident that’s repeated over and over again, with a changing cast of extraterrestrial visitors. If you’re the Reverend Michael J.S. Carter of Baltimore, who currently serves as the minister of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in North Carolina, you try to make sense of the experience. And since… Read more

October 22, 2014

Mark Twain, famed humorist and writer of the classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is perhaps the most celebrated American author of all time. He is also a favorite of atheists and atheist Web sites, who claim Twain as one of their own. But is their faith in Twain misguided? I stumbled upon the Mark Twain-atheist connection recently, when I went online to verify that a quote came from the author. I found Twain’s… Read more

October 7, 2014

I once read a story about a singer who was asked what the best advice she ever received was. Her response: “Breathe”. She had been given this life tip from her father who had correctly pointed out that when we’re stressed or feeling a little tense, we tend to shorten our breath. And at those moments there’s nothing better we can do to steady ourselves than take a big gulp of air. I was reminded of this advice the other… Read more

September 24, 2014

Are you a fellow participant in the rat race? If you’re like me, and regularly work 40-plus hour weeks in a high-stress environment, you know how hard it can be to keep your spiritual bearings intact. It can often seem like the working world and the spiritual world are at opposite ends of the life spectrum. So how do you maintain a spiritual focus, when the stresses of the secular world come knocking on your cubicle? Is there a way… Read more

September 11, 2014

How often do you pray? I’ve always been fascinated by the Muslim religion and its adherents who pray five times a day, an act that serves as a constant reminder of the role God plays in their lives. Equally compelling are the devout Christians who take a particular Bible passage (1 Thessalonians 5:17) at face value and “pray ceaselessly”, though I imagine this would interfere with everyday life. When I think about prayer in my own life, I quickly realize that… Read more




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