The Cost of War, One Breath at a Time.

This piece was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on December 18, 2006.  It headlined the UPI website’s religion section that day as well.  A slightly shorter version of this commentary will air this holiday season on the Perspectives program on KQED FM, a public radio station in San Francisco.

Toward the end of the first week of Advent, when I should have been writing a sermon on the life and ministry of Saint John the Baptist, I found myself surfing the web to a site that gives a real time, running total of the cost of the ongoing war in Iraq.

The total cost of the war—some 350 billion dollars—is a number so large that it is emotionally meaningless to me, but I spent a good deal of time contemplating the speed at which the war’s tally increased by tens, hundreds, and thousands of dollars—amounts of money to which I can relate.

The counter moved too fast for me to get a good measure of the rate of war spending using the sweep hand on my wristwatch, so I used a more elementary and less scientific method, and here’s what I discovered: the United States’ taxpayers spend twenty thousand dollars on the war every time I take a breath. Continue reading

God Isn’t Afraid of Science

This column was published by UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on September 18, 2006.

This week’s column is dedicated to Al Vogel, Jane Orbuch, Bob Miller and Robert Jamgochian, my science teachers at Mendocino High School. With gracious good humor they indulged me as I attempted to discredit the legacy of Charles Darwin, equipped as I was, with a mere middle school diploma.

If starting at the very beginning is, indeed, a very good place to start, then September is the time when high school biology classes grapple with the origins of life. For many teachers this means facing the objections of students and parents who consider evolutionary science to be an offense against God. Continue reading