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July 21, 2015

Apparently I’m not the only one wrestling with God. In his foreword to my new book, Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith, veteran religion reporter Don Lattin asserts that Americans everywhere are doing some wrestling with the divine. Don writes, “If you believe what you see on TV or the World Wide Web, modern civilization is under attack by forces of narrow-minded, intolerant religious fundamentalists—all the way from Fallujah to Florida. The real story, at least in the… Read more

July 15, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall I haven’t cracked open my copy of Go Set a Watchman. But that doesn’t keep me from having opinions about it. For months now, I’ve been looking forward to taking a look at the long-lost book that was the original version of Harper Lee’s famous, much-loved, much-read best-seller, To Kill a Mockingbird. I wasn’t planning to rush out to buy it. Maybe I’d wait to get it at the library. But sooner or later I’d get my hands on a copy… Read more

July 14, 2015

Kay Campbell, one of my religion writer colleagues, wrote this about my new book from Patheos Press. Thank you, Kay! In Wrestling with God, Barbara Falconer Newhall, a longtime religion writer, combines the best of gracefully practiced and written journalism with the best of a personal spiritual quest. With a persistent seeker’s humbleness, she asks good questions of thoughtful people from an astonishing range of backgrounds. Then she listens to and transcribes – with gentle editing for clarity and rhythm – their… Read more

July 7, 2015

The physical therapist contemplates my over stressed and overdeveloped trapezius muscles.  Relax those muscles, she says. Let go of that anxiety. Be in the moment. Be here now. Do it, she urges. Be alive to the moment.  Modern psychology encourages this. Christianity and Judaism know about it. (“Be still and know that I am God.”) It’s what Edna St. Vincent Millay was thinking when she wrote “Renascence:” God, I can push the grass apart, And lay my finger on Thy heart! I’m not very good at being… Read more

June 30, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Buddhist writers Sylvia Boorstein and Jack Kornfield have taught me a lot about how to be a better me. But I have to confess, I’m a lot keener on reading about Buddhism than I am on actually sitting down to meditate. I can’t help thinking (as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts) why meditate when I could be sweeping the garage? Or emailing my son in Minnesota? Or thinning the camellia buds in the front yard? Or… Read more

June 23, 2015

It was 2o12. Religion scholar Huston Smith was 93 years old and he had a point to make. He was getting on toward the end of his life, a life of studying and, in some cases, practicing the world’s great religions. And he was ready to sum it all up. Happiness, he said. We should have more of it. Dozens of fans and friends had crowded into the Sagrada Sacred Arts store in Oakland, California, and Smith had rolled into the… Read more

June 16, 2015

Some people like certitude. They like to know things for sure. They like to be right. Me, I’m good with murky. Yes, I’d like to know for sure what happens after we die and whether good or evil will win out in the end on Planet Earth. But since we can’t know these things for sure, it’s the need to be right that makes me uneasy. It don’t trust it. An atheist friend once told me that if he were… Read more

June 9, 2015

Eagle Top is nothing much. It’s just a hill. A short, sandy hill perched on Lake Michigan. Maybe not even a hill. More like a dune. A steep heap of sand held in place by the roots of oak trees and beach grass, and a steady year-round breeze off of Lake Michigan. But for me as a kid, Eagle Top was a wild place. You could only get there by means of a steep sandy path that took determination to climb…. Read more

June 1, 2015

Jeff Greenwald: Buddha Shopper   I’d been hoping for some time to get my hands on a copy of Jeff Greenwald’s fun-loving book, Shopping for Buddhas. It’s the story of his youthful search through the streets and bazaars of Kathmandu for the perfect Buddha statue. Buddhism? Shopping? Comedy? My kind of book. Unfortunately, Shopping for Buddhas was published way back in 1990 and it’s been thoroughly out of print for some time. Travelers’ Tales, the publisher, has come to the rescue, however, with a 25th anniversary edition. I… Read more

May 26, 2015

By Barbara Falconer Newhall I’d always imagined Coleman Barks to be a distant, scholarly type — till I emailed him for permission to use a few lines from his Rumi translations in my book. To my surprise, Barks very generously got back to me in no time with — sure, no problem. The other day I googled him and found this video. And there he was, a kindly southern gentleman type, complete with a bit of a drawl, an open face, and totally immersed… Read more




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