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Last year, two robins built their nest in the Aspen tree in front of our house. I named them Fred and Ethel. Ethel, it appeared, was in charge. Fred helped. But, as with most females, the nest was hers. Fred brought twigs and did his best, but Ethel corrected his mistakes, laid her eggs and …

We are drowning in bad news. The coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread. Many corporations are instructing employees to work remotely from home. Colleges are shifting to online classes. The NBA has suspended its season. March Madness will be played without fans in the seats. From one cas…

According to the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, there are currently around 380,000 church congregations in the United States. Christianity Today’s Rebecca Randall reports that number was higher in 2006, with approximately 414,000 congregations. From 2006 to 2012, an estimated …

The unmistakable smell started wafting through the kitchen. That was the first sign. Having been down this smelly road once before, my wife and I knew exactly what had transpired. Delilah, our nearly 16-year-old lab/husky mix who loves to lounge outside on chilly evenings, had just been spra…

I grew up with the whitest Jesus you have ever seen. A vitamin D-deficient, sickly-looking Jesus. A Don Knotts meets Gary Busey kind of Jesus. And he was always pictured in the same way: standing in a field, holding a tiny lamb (also pasty white). Not surprisingly, our entire congregation wa…

This is how I know God is my pal. In November I had a freak paralysis of my right leg that lasted five hours, documented by doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Milton, Massachusetts. Then my mobility returned to normal. Four medical experts looked at MRI’s, scans, blood tests and so…

I started writing these faith columns in the fall of 2009. A friend had purchased a few local newspapers and wanted a free faith column he could provide to his readers. The distribution has grown to include newspapers in more than a dozen states. It has received over 140,000 views online inc…

The term “generation gap” came into use in the 1960s, as both young and old people recognized basic generational differences in outlook, aspirations and values. Acknowledging that there were differences did little to improve strained relationships. It may even have exacerbated them.

I always knew it would be a great day when Sarah Goodson walked through the door of our church carrying her big purse. Raised during the Depression on a sharecropper’s farm in the South Carolina low country, Sarah loved two things in this life more than anything: her family and taking care o…

A young friend wrote on his Facebook page, “Religion is still the opiate of the masses.” He got some interesting responses. One person agreed with him. Another wrote, “It can’t be. If it was, I would take it for recreational purposes.” Of course, the statement originated with Karl Marx when …

In 1869, The Scientific American ran a short (and sardonic) piece on Dr. D. Mortimer, a medical doctor who believed he had found the location of heaven. His suggestion, if I understand it correctly, was a fascinating one. According to Dr. Mortimer, heaven lay within the sun as a vast globe, …

National Love your Pet Day is Feb. 20. Whenever I hear the rant-filled bullying of our public discourse, it’s a wonder my dog Ginger does not yet wear a bright red vest emblazoned “THERAPY DOG.” During the vicious storms of division, where’s MY thunder coat? Ginger is my teacup in the tempest.

I grew up in Texas, often wakened by the rasp of blue jays outside my window, frequently entertained by mockingbirds with their collection of stolen songs. Buzzards circled in the sky. On the ground, close up, they are hideous creatures, but high overhead, riding the wind, barely moving thei…

Though many Americans first became aware of climate science in the last few decades, it has a long history. By the 1850s, scientists investigating large-scale climate differences in past geological ages began to suspect that atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane might have an impact on glob…

I love a good blues tune. Part of my affection is driven by the melodies, but it’s the lyrics that get me. Somehow, those haunting, mournful songs manage to capture the immense span of the human condition in tiny, concise sound bites.

The world is once again on the verge of panic over a new viral strain that threatens a global epidemic. In spite of efforts to contain it, the 2019-nCoV coronavirus continues to leap national boundaries. In the first three weeks, the infection soared from 50 in China to 17,000 in 23 countrie…

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I watched a video clip of Shaquille O’Neal sitting with his sports show co-hosts, talking about the sudden, tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26. At several points in Shaq’s monologue, he was forced to pause, overcome with…

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Have you ever been starstruck? I remember one year when I was a kid, my father took me to Carnegie Hall for a concert featuring a narration by the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame first baseman Willie Stargell. Being in the music business himself, he knew the conductor and I went that evening…

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Last week the Doomsday Clock was moved to 100 seconds to midnight. Created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 following WWII and the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hypothetical clock measures how close the scientists estimate the human race is to global catast…

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The tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash felt intimate to me, though I do not follow sports, nor have I ever met them. Yet imagining the sudden loss of a father and daughter is a dread I can feel in my bones. Also, all of us a…

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In the biblical story of the first humans, Adam and Eve face a choice: obey their maker’s directive or disobey and seek their own way. They chose the latter, at great cost to the race.

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You would think that we would have learned our lesson about secrets. President Nixon and “all the president’s men” thought that they could get away with it. But every word uttered in the oval office found its way into print and the public. The Watergate tapes ripped the mask off the public i…

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A Muslim man once confidently told me that everyone born in the United States is a Christian, unless his family is Muslim or Jewish. I did not ask him what that means for people from Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Sikh or Baha’i families, nor did I ask what it meant for people who intentionally co…

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He is the most controversial person who ever lived. His own family thought him mad. The people loved him. One of his closest friends betrayed him. The Jewish court convicted him of heresy. The Romans killed him. He never earned a degree and had no formal schooling. He was never elected to of…

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Since President Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, politicians and citizens alike have questioned the operation’s legitimacy. In the absence of a declaration of war, was the targeted killing of an enemy on foreign soil justified? Further, was it effective?

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I didn’t make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Well, I guess technically I did since I didn’t actually fall asleep until after midnight. But I was in bed with the lights out when the clock (that I didn’t hear) struck the New Year.

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Five years ago this week, on Jan. 8, 2015, my husband Toby and I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

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We have adopted our New Year’s resolutions, and many of us are focused on a “healthy heart.” It apparently is making a difference. According to a study published in an American Heart Association journal, “The epidemic increase in heart disease mortality ended in the 1960s or 1970s.” Deaths f…

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No one needs faith for something that has already happened. Faith, by its nature, requires a future component, a measure of uncertainty. In situations where there is no uncertainty - the package has already arrived, as promised, the test has been scored - faith is superfluous.

We have turned the page to 2020. It seems like such a perfect number, so much better than 2019, an odd number that always seemed to fall just a little short. 2020 rings with the hope of perfect vision and a perfect year.

We are in a new moon phase entering the third decade of the 21st century and I’m relieved to see 2019 in my rearview mirror. Perhaps I’m not alone. Now it’s time to assess the hurts, disappointments, betrayals and plain bad luck of the past year. Why? Because I’m packing for a new decade and…

Most Americans who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them, according to polls taken over the years. When they made their resolutions, they hoped (if not intended) to keep them. Nevertheless, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions hovers around 70%.