Monthly Archives June 2014

We Are All Guilty

My online pal Amy Morgenstern over at Sermons in Stones had a brief blog post recently in which she asked, “…Is there a special place in hell for people who spend $425 on a lace t-shirt in a world where they could use that money to feed a hungry family for a month? And if so, am I going there too for spending $65 on a jacket?”

It’s a great couple of questions, and in my response to her I indicated that I had long had a blog post in mind addressing them, with the headline as you see it at the top of this page. She said she would read that post if I wrote it, so Amy, this one’s for you. (And for anyone else who has pondered these same questions, which I am going to guess is everyone who peruses this site.)

Unfortunately, the issue is not only $425 t-shirts and other forms of conspicuous consumption by what is commonly regarded as the 1% in this country...

Read More

Second Annual “Songs of Summer”

One of the benefits of persisting with a blog for more than a year is you get to start riffing on “Second Annual” versions of this or that post. And being as how we have arrived at the summer solstice once again (when we need remind ourselves to rejoice in the light rather than lamenting, “Oh dear, now the days start to get shorter!”), I’ll keep the verbiage brief here and offer up another round of songs reflecting this most languid of seasons.

Poet Mary Oliver’s conclusion to her classic The Summer Day is put forth year-round as a stock-taking question, meant to challenge the passions that are perhaps dormant inside us: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

Worth pondering, but one part of the answer is easy, because this summer day and every day should include, if we know what is good and healthy and spiritually uplifting for us, an emphatic, “Definitely lis...

Read More

Is It At All Helpful to Call Governor Rick Perry An Idiot?

Apologies for the long strange headline above, but it descended on me in the midst of a run, charging up a hill, fuming, while wondering what to do about the Rick Perrys of the world.

Outgoing Texas Governor Perry, as you probably have heard by now amidst all the other mayhem and head-shaking absurdities of the daily headlines, responded to a question after an address at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco earlier this week about whether he thought homosexuality is a “disorder” with this nugget:

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

So there you have it: a remarkable response in all ways—for its ignorance, its small-mindedness, its complete refutation of actual k...

Read More

Why Does Anyone Go to Church?

I am a churchgoer, and though I have made many friends within my church community over the 10 years of my membership, outside of that community very few of my other friends and acquaintances from a now long life step inside a church with any more regularity than is required by an occasional invitation to a wedding or memorial service.

So do I consider these non-churchgoing people’s souls to be in some kind of danger, their lives somehow less capable of experiencing the fullness of love and charity, grace and communion and exultation?

No, I don’t. Not one whit or bit.

Salvation, such as it is, comes in nearly infinite forms of expression and experience. If hell is the ultimate destination for non-churchgoers, God’s minions are going to have to carve out a very large cavern.

So then why does anyone go to church?

Why do I?

I was talking with a couple of mainline Protestant minister friends of mine not t...

Read More

The Fallacy of Second Amendment Absolutism

There has been another shooting…

The names and locales and exact number of victims begin to intermingle and fade into each other over time as a wearying sequence of outrage, grief and calls to do something give way to a series of volleys that see the left and right political flanks in our country dig deeper into their respective trenches of outrage tinged with near despair on the left and dismissive gun rights absolutism on the right.

“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness!’? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more!’”

That’s Richard Martinez, father of one of the six victims left dead at only the most recent carnage last weekend at UC Santa Barbara.

“As harsh as this sounds—your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

That’s “Joe the Plumber,” a supposed American “everyman” who catapulted into the media spotlight w...

Read More