Photo Essay: Religion in the Hood

Last week I wrote a piece about dusting off my old Pentax K-1000, loading it with black and white film, and rediscovering the joy of taking photos with film. Here are a few of the photos I took.

For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the religious diversity in my neighborhood, so when I went out to shoot photos with my old camera, I decided to take pictures of interesting religious expressions near my home.

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In Memory of a Camera

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum

In a slightly different form, this piece also ran on KQED FM’s Perspectivesseries on October 3, 2008

I’m not sure I’d want to turn back the clock on technology, but on a recent trip to the park with my three-year-old son I was moved with nostalgia when I saw an older gentleman taking photographs with an old-fashioned single-lens-reflex camera.

Jealous of his film, the photographer took his time, gazing through the viewfinder, adjusting his tripod and fussing with dials. This is something I remember well. It wasn’t that long ago that I took pride in my ability to shoot decent photos with a Pentax as old as I am—a camera that once traveled the world with me, bumping my hip as I walked along the Sea of Galilee, and braving the weather on Scotland’s Western Isles, where the rain was so severe that my boots were wet for a month, but my camera dried out just fine. My SLR came with me to Switzerland and Italy, and twice to China where it recorded the adoptions of my two daughters.

But parenthood requires many snapshots, and I have replaced my Pentax with a digital Panasonic with a Leica lens and lots of memory. Continue reading

Tesla and the Electric Future of Green

This column also ran on UPI’s Religon and Spirituality Forum.

Like a lot of Americans, my interest in presidential politics has bordered on obsession in recent weeks. I’ve been spending an indecent amount of time trolling the web for evidence that Barack Obama’s campaign will be reinvigorated by an infusion of moxie or that Sarah Palin actually thought the Bush Doctrine practiced bush medicine.

I love politics and the soap opera that is unfolding in the battle for electoral votes, but Sunday morning I got a reprieve from my political fixation, a touch of grace that came in the form of what certainly must be the most beautiful green car that anyone has imagined since Ian Fleming wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Continue reading

Double Standards

Since some of my readers have accused me (and other media elites) to holding Sarah Palin to a double standard, I thought it might be worthwhile to include this video on double standards:

Sarah Palin’s Crusade

This column also is published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

When her critics point out that Governor Sarah Palin is inexperienced on matters of foreign policy they tend to note what she hasn’t done —she seldom has traveled outside the United States. In fact The New York Times reports that Governor Palin had to apply for a passport before traveling to Kuwait and Germany to visit deployed members of the Alaska National Guard in 2007. She also visited Ireland on that trip—The Wall Street Journal says she was there just long enough to refuel her plane—and it’s fair to assume that she’s seen the parts of Canada between Alaska and Idaho.

Governor Palin never has been to Iraq and she’s never visited any of America’s most important allies. Even though their population is roughly equivalent to that of Memphis, Tennessee, Alaskans must engage in foreign commerce, yet Palin has not visited Alaska’s trading partners. I have no idea if Palin has received foreign delegations to Alaska. I’ll leave it to more astute political observers to decide if what Sarah Palin hasn’t done qualifies her to set our nation’s foreign policy. I am a religious commentator. My job is to point out that, what Sarah Palin has done (or, more precisely what she has said), suggests that this affable hockey mom is theologically ill-prepared to lead on matters of foreign policy; and the American people should be singularly concerned if Sarah Palin ever is in charge of representing the United States in its relationships with the Muslim world.
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