Religious Food for Thought

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and spirituality Forum on July 23, 2007.

If book sales can be trusted as an indicator of the American mood, then Americans are starting to care deeply about food. In 2006, Michael Pollan’s definitive tome on good eating, The Omnivore’s Dilemma was a runaway best seller; since its recent publication, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver’s gastronomic musings of a year’s worth of local eating, has spent eleven weeks (and counting) on the New York Times’ best seller list.

The economic impact of the newfound American obsession with food goes beyond our reading habits. The UDSA reports that the number of farmer’s markets has grown by more than 100 percent over the last ten years. Whole Foods, an international supermarket chain specializing in what Michael Pollan calls “industrial organic” food is a booming success, and the Disney/Pixar film “Ratatouille” cooked up for its creators nearly 50 million dollars in profit over the course of its debut weekend.

What is missing in America’s foodie mood is a strong articulation of why eating well should matter to people of faith. Continue reading

The Pope on Protestantism

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on July 16, 2007.
So what is the correct response when the Pope comes out and says your church is not a church?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering since I first read about the Vatican’s release of an official document, stating, among other things, that without the proper credentials of apostolic succession, a church is not a church. Continue reading

A Meaningful Reunion

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Fourm on July 9, 2007.

Last weekend I attended a reunion of my high school graduating class. It was the first time such a reunion ever had been organized by a member of the Mendocino High School Class of 1986 and the event marked the passage of two decades (and one year, but we’re kind of slow about these things on California’s North Coast) since I had the privilege of marching through our school gymnasium as the band played “Pomp and Circumstance” slightly out of tune. Continue reading

Patriotism’s True Color, or Green: the New Red White and Blue

This column was the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum’s featured commentary on July 2, 2007.

Both my country and my grandfather were born on the fourth of July, and while only a handful of Americans this week will remember the birth of William Mullenger of Crawford County, Iowa, his lasting legacy of service to his country is worth mentioning as a nation prepares itself for the great manifestations of patriotic celebration that, for the next few days will mark American life from sea to shining sea.

My grandfather was a patriot. He served his country in uniform during the First World War—mostly digging graves for his brothers in arms who succumbed to the flu’ pandemic of 1917—but a fuller expression of the love for his country was my grandfather’s dedication to the five hundred acres of farmland he inherited from his father and worked his entire life. Continue reading