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January 23, 2016

My favorite place to look for God is in people, especially people like Savitri Hari, whose story appears in my book, “Wrestling With God: Stories of Doubt and Faith.” I learned something from everyone I interviewed for “Wrestling with God.” In the case of Savitri, who seems so alive and full of gratitude for everything around her, I learned to notice that the sacred inhabits even the smallest, most humble of things. At the time of our interviews, Savitri was living in Walnut Creek,… Read more

December 1, 2015

Nearly a quarter of all Americans now check the box “None” when asked their religious affiliation.  I wonder how many of those Nones would be happy, given the chance, to check a box labeled “Somethingist.” What’s a Somethingist? Somethingism is a stripped-down belief system for folks who believe in something – but haven’t a clue what that Something might be. It’s a brand new religion (religion?) rising up in Holland. In Dutch Somethingism is known as Ietsisme. (ITS-is-meh.) Washington Post  columnist… Read more

November 24, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Lots of good reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving: One. Pumpkin pie. What a great way to get your vegetables. Two.  Stuffing! Stuffing alone would make the Thanksgiving Day meal my favorite of the year. Three. A dishwasher and no-iron tablecloths. This could be 1945, mind you, and on Friday I’d be spending the entire day washing dishes by hand and pounding my (steamless) iron into my wrinkled linen tablecloth. Four. Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith. My book is out there at… Read more

November 17, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Some books are even better the second time around.  That’s the case with one of  John Shelby Spong’s books — the one about heaven. I found it tucked behind a row of books on the bottom shelf of my writing room bookcase the other day. There it was — “Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell.” And there I was, minutes later, sitting on the floor next to the bookcase, leafing through it again…. Read more

November 12, 2015

I was a junior in college and I was smitten. Who was the lucky guy? An Englishman four hundred years dead —  John Donne, poet, priest and founder of the Metaphysical Poets, a group that  included poets like George Herbert and Andrew Marvell Donne was a “libertine turned religious,” according to the comments I made in the margins of my textbook that year as an English major at the University of Michigan. My notes were cautious and cerebral — something I could later safely put into a term paper for all to read. My… Read more

November 3, 2015

For most of my adult life I haven’t been so sure about God. That such a thing could exist seems far-fetched, too good to be true. But now that I’m firmly located in the second half of my life – okay, okay, the third third of my life (And no, I’m not calling it the last third of my life; I’m not ready to go there – yet) . . . now that I’ve moved along in my life, past the time… Read more

October 27, 2015

Geoff Machin is a realist who believes that Alfred Lord Tennyson got it right when he suggested that nature is “red in tooth and claw.” Nature is bloody and competitive, says Geoff. Most of the creatures walking, swimming, swarming, floating and flying around on this planet are not much interested in anything beyond where their next meal is coming from. Yet Geoff also believes that we human beings are capable of a selflessness and a desire for meaning that belie our animal nature. These qualities, Geoff… Read more

October 20, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall It’s time to stop the train, Anne Lamott was telling her — mostly female — audience. Time to stop gripping that pencil so hard.  Time to surrender and be at peace with yourself. Time to drop that rock. Living in the Bay Area I have lots of chances to hear novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott speak. Whenever she’s got a new book out — “Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith” and “Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son”… Read more

October 13, 2015

I don’t know how to pray. Haven’t a clue. Apparently, I’m not alone. Barbara Brown Taylor — professor, author, theologian, Episcopal priest and a woman TIME magazine once designated one of the world’s most influential people — seems to be as flummoxed by the prayer question as I am. “I am a failure at prayer,” she confessed in her book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. “To say I love God but I do not pray much is like saying I love… Read more

October 6, 2015

When our kids were little, the pediatrician once suggested we cut down the cypress tree in our back yard. Tests had shown that our son Peter was allergic to the ancient tree. Jon and I thought about it. But not for long. No way would we cut down that cypress. It was magnificent – seven stories tall, with roots growing deep into the soil behind our house, and thick, graceful branches reaching around our deck. That tree was a presence, a being. It… Read more




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