A Pastoral Letter to Ted Haggard

This letter was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on November 13, 2006. It also aired on the “Perspectives” program on KQED FM in San Francisco that day. The bold print in the text is the part I added to the Perspective piece when I sent it to be published on the UPI Religion and Spirituality site. An audio file of my KQED Perspective is available at the end of the text, courtesy of my friend JJ Chacon.

Dear Ted Haggard,

In the wake of your recent ecclesiastical discipline, you have promised to place yourself under the direction of your fellow pastors during your season of rehabilitation. I am a pastor, but since I don’t expect you to ask my opinion, I’m writing you a letter instead.

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Review: “The Book of Daniel” on DVD

This Column was first published on the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum Website on October 9, 2006

Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn! “The Book of Daniel” has just been released on DVD, and now we can see what all of the fuss was about and what heinous heresy inspired the American Religious Right to rally a successful campaign to have NBC discontinue the much-anticipated show after just three weeks last January.

Here’s the verdict: those who fought to have “The Book of Daniel” axed should be ashamed of themselves. “The Book of Daniel” is a great show. Continue reading

Armageddon Outta Here!

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spiritualiy Forum on September 25, 2006.  It also headlined the religion section on UPI’s main page that day.


In Southern California, the marketing empire that has arisen to promote Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ wildly successful Left Behind books has found a way to earn money by packaging religious bloodshed as entertainment in the form of a video game due out in November, just in time to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Over the weekend I played a demo version of the forthcoming game. It was, in a word, cheesy. 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

America’s Empathy Deficiency

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Fourm on September 11, 2006

Thanks to my friend Randy Shadoe for passing along the video of Kyra Phillips and for our many enjoyable conversations and correspondences that keep me on my toes!


You too may have seen this one. The President is giving a speech to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and something goes terribly wrong in the CNN sound department. Suddenly we, the viewing audience, are hearing CNN anchor Kyra Phillips in the bathroom. We hear the zip of a garment, the flush of a toilet, and a conversation in which Ms. Phillips dishes some dirt on her sister-in-law.

It wasn’t long before this behemoth of a technical blunder was a momentary cultural sensation as video of the mishap bounced around cyberspace. To her great credit, Kyra Phillips went on Letterman to read a self-deprecating top ten list of excuses for what went wrong.

When I first saw the clip with Kyra Phillips’ private moment drowning out the President’s somber platitudes I laughed. It was great fun until the rusty cog wheels of my recollection began to turn, and through the fog of nearly twenty years of memory I recovered a bit of forsaken knowledge: I went to college with Kyra Phillips. Continue reading

Katherine Harris on God and Politics

This piece was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on September 4, 2006. It also headlined the religion section of UPI’s homepage.

Thanks to Judy Brooks for alerting me to Katherine Harris’ views on the separation of church and state.


On August 24th The Florida Baptist Witness published an interview with Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State (she of the butterfly ballot and dangling chad). Now, she is a member of the United States House of Representatives, and is a candidate in this week’s primary election for the Senate.

The interview is worth reading for its presentation of Ms. Harris as a startlingly inarticulate religious fanatic. Contained in Rep. Harris’ musings, as recorded by the Witness are dozens of ideological and rhetorical blunders that are tempting fodder for a religiously progressive pontificator, but none is so inviting as her suggestion that the separation of church and state is a lie. Continue reading

'Faithless!' – Battle Cry of the Religious Right

This column was published by UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on August 21, 2006 

“WAKE UP CALL! Christianity in America won’t survive another decade, unless we do something now!” This is according to a bit of junk mail that recently crossed my desk. Billing itself “a call to arms,” the flyer asked Christian “Generals” (presumably pastors like me) to unite, heeding the battle cry by paying good money to attend one of several meetings organized by a traveling road show of prominent evangelical speakers alarmed by the dwindling number of youth projected to be evangelical adults in the not too distant future.

According to the flyer, a study has suggested that only four percent of what it calls “this generation” will grow into evangelical adulthood, as compared to the current crop of evangelical adults, who claim a full 34 percent of America’s grownup population.

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