• ‘Metanoia’ — a better state of mind

    We all have a bias. The late Langdon Gilkey used to put this in a gentle, more palatable way. We don’t have a bias, he says, but rather a “pre-ontology,” a subjective stance from which we look at reality.

  • Displacing ego and narcissism

    The Buddhists have a little axiom that explains more about ourselves than we would like. They say that you can understand most of what’s wrong in the world and inside yourself by looking at a group photo.

  • The stigma of suicide

    Recently I read, in succession, three books on suicide, each written by a mother who lost one of her children to suicide. All three books are powerful, mature, not given to false sentiment, and worth reading: Lois Severson, who wrote “Healing the Wound from my Daughter’s Suicide: Grief Translated into Words,” lost her daughter, Patty, to suicide; Gloria Hutchinson, who wrote “Damage Done: Suicide of an Only Son,” lost her son, David, to suicide; and Marjorie Antus, who wrote “My Daughter, Her Suicide, and God: A Memoir of Hope,” lost her daughter, Mary, to suicide. Patty and David were in their mid-20s. Mary was still a teen.


  • Innocence, complexity and sanctity

    Some years ago, I officiated at a wedding. As the officiating priest, I was invited to the reception and dance that followed upon the church service.

  • Caring for our soul

    What does it profit you if you gain the whole world but suffer the loss of your own soul?



  • Things beyond our imagination

    Recently, at an academic dinner, I was sitting across the table from a nuclear scientist. At one point, I asked him this question: Do you believe that there’s human life on other planets? His answer surprised me: “As a scientist, no, I don’t believe there’s human life on another planet.

  • Our overstimulated grandiosity — and our impoverished symbols

    And no one’s to blame for this, save God perhaps, for making us this way. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, meaning that each of us holds within a divine spark, a piece of infinity and an ingrained knowledge of that unique dignity.

  • God’s ineffability

    God, as I understand him, is not very well understood. A colleague of mine, now deceased, was fond of saying that. It’s a wise comment.



  • Human nature — is it somehow all wrong?

    An American humorist was once asked what he loved most in life. This was his reply: “I love women best; whiskey next; my neighbor a little; and God hardly at all!”



  • Political correctness — swallowing hard

    Just because something is politically correct doesn’t mean that it might not also be correct. Sometimes we have to swallow hard to accept truth.

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A blaze of praise

Father Ed Benioff

If you say nice things about my preaching — or my writing, or my shoes — I have to admit, I’ll be pleased. I’ll remember what you said. Pay me a compliment, and it may even change the course of my day. That’s the power of praise when it’s directed at another human being. For a moment, it makes us feel like we’re the object of admiration and even love.


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November 25, 2015

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