Faithful Conversations

This column was published on UPI’s on October 30, 2006. It also headlined the UPI webpage’s religion section that day.

Americans have a problem when we talk about religion. Most of us think we’re more knowledgeable than actually we are, and, as a result, the plague of stereotypes traps us in our ignorance and foments enmity between religious communities.

Allow me to illustrate the American attachment to religious stereotypes by inviting you, esteemed reader, to play a game of “Religion Trivia:”

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Wedding in Maine, Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about attending the wedding of two women in Maine, and about how the union of my friends was not a threat to the honorable estate of marriage. It turns out that I had more to say about the wedding, another story to tell, so I went on KQED FM’s Perspectives series to say more. You can listen to my comments here:

Or, You can read a transcript of my comments below:

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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

A conspiratorial plank in the eye

This column was published by the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum on August 14, 2006

On June 22, The Pew Global Attitudes Project published the results of an extensive study called The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other. One of the poll’s findings, which the study’s authors called “striking,” is that significant portions of the Muslim world believe the Bush Administration, the government of Israel, or both, conspired to carry out the September 11 attacks.

A few commentators, including Daniel Pipes have suggested that this proclivity to believe outlandish conspiracy theories is evidence of how different are the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, but the results of another study conducted in July, suggest that a tendency to lend credence to bizarre beliefs about what happened on September 11 is something that the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds have in common.
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