Category Religion

Curiosity, Holiness, Science: An Homage to Eve

A recent scene at my neighborhood pool: It’s closing time and the lifeguards are rolling the tarp off its big spool and laying it out across the water. A 3- or 4-year-old boy bolts away from his mother at the gate leading outside and squats down poolside, gazing intently as the tarp unfurls. His mother calls to him, “O.K., let’s go!”

All he does in response is reach his hand out so he can touch the tarp as it moves under his fingers. His mother may as well be a million miles away.

I am smiling to myself at the whole scene, don’t even realize my smile shows until I approach the gate and Mom says to me, smiling herself now, “It’s so interesting!”

“Of course it is!” I respond. “And it’s so interesting that it’s interesting to him!”

She vigorously assents to this and we both laugh, marveling at the insatiable, seemingly undiscriminating curiosity of the young.

But re...

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Reverend William Barber’s Ancient Progressive Religion of the Heart

Amidst the many soaring/pointed/Trump-eviscerating speeches that piled atop one another throughout last week’s Democratic National Convention, even the powerful call-out by the Muslim couple who had lost their soldier son in the Afghan War didn’t quite match the moment for me when a hulking African American minister with a congenital spinal condition limped out on stage in his clerical collar and in a sonorous voice intoned:

“Good evening my brothers and sisters. I come before you tonight as a preacher, the son of a preacher. A preacher immersed in the movement at five years old. I don’t come tonight representing any organization, but I come to talk about faith and morality. I’m a preacher and I’m a theologically conservative liberal evangelical biblicist...

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Here Then Gone: The Short Half-Life of Ecstatic Moments

 It was one of those Moments. The daylight waning, the sky a magnificent stew of cirrus wisps both vertical and horizontal to the west and south, stratus puff balls north and east, the trending-toward-full moon already up and peeking from behind the latter.

At that still-point dusky moment transitioning from day to early eve, with the world perfectly poised between its in- and out-breath, the color palette of pale oranges, golds, purples, pinks, magentas and more seemed both fathomless and intoxicating.

And then came the geese.

They were in their classic extended V formation, winging southwest towards their home in the Laguna de Santa Rosa after their usual daytrip to the cozy confines of Spring Lake Park, where I assume they came across plentiful tasty creatures to slide down their impressive gullets. (“Oh, to have a neck like that,” I hear every model and ballerina in the world sighing…)

And mere ...

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Done With Dogma: The Trend Toward No-Religion, No-Political-Party

Quick: What’s the fastest growing religious group in the United States?

And the fastest growing (political) party preference of the voting population in California?

Well, it’s not the Methodists and it’s not the Republicans, and you probably knew that much already. But would it surprise you at all that the answers are “no-religion” to the first and “no-party-preference” to the second?

If you figured as much, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of an important development in our cultural and civic life. One that helps explain, at least to some degree, the continuing and somewhat confounding relevance of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the current presidential primaries. (More on that below.)

The no-religion “nones” have been noted for some years now in the Pew Research Center’s regular surveys of religious life in the U.S., but even the authors of the latest snapshot in May, 2015 se...

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The Great Longing: Notes on Relationship and Community

“The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.”
—From Simone Weil’s “Waiting for God” (1951)

As the Buddha let us know, the story of humanity is one long grappling with desire—mostly unfulfilled. This Great Longing projects itself in a million different forms, all of them stand-ins, in fundamental ways, for the eternal life human beings desire as conscious, self-aware creatures whose most painful and challenging awareness is of their own finitude.

Our animal friends seek only their next meal, their next night’s burrowing into a protected space for their sleep. We see beyond that and exclaim, “Hey, what’s the deal here?”

I can remember lying in bed one night as a young boy, maybe 10 years old, dumbstruck at the realization that my parents would one day die...

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