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The Benefits of Gratitude: Self-Love and its Limitations for an Ethical Life

Christmas is six weeks behind us, yet a post on gratitude is probably appropriate for any season. In December, the “Gift Guide” of SF Chronicle published A Gift of Gratitude by Nancy Davis Kho. Kho is author of the “Thank-You Project,” whose objective is to inspire persons to compose one letter a week, expressing appreciation for those who’ve positively influenced their lives.…

“Sincerity, Honesty, Integrity”: Self-Made Religion in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

If like me you have annual reading goals, you probably struggle to decide which books are worth your precious time. It’s not my custom to elect books at random, but after my 18-month old daughter Sophia grabbed a thin, 1955 used copy of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography off the shelf, I took her to the task. The Autobiography is not your typical first-person…

Halloween: What it Reveals about Why We Conceal

Make no mistake, Halloween is here to stay. It’s popularity as a holiday in the U.S. is second only to Christmas. Polls show a majority of Millennials actually put Halloween in the number one spot. In 2018 American expenditures on Halloween apparel surpassed $9 billion. A recent article noted that 48% of millennials bought costumes worn just for posting on social media.…

A Disturbing Blunder: Bernie Sanders’ Response to a Growing Global Population

Every now and then, in an unguarded moment, a politician makes the blunder of revealing the truth about a position they hold. In a presidential townhall forum on September 5th, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was asked by Martha Readyhoff, a teacher from New Milford, CT, if he would advocate “empowering women, and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth,” by…

Defeating White Nationalism: The Realities of Online Warfare

As the violence descended Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday August 12th led by 1,000 demonstrators who marched in protest of the removal of a Confederate memorial, and one counter-protestor was killed, the question millions were asking: Who is the Alt-right and from where did they come? The movement is young, and not monolithic, but it does claim to be “conservative” in some loose…

Patriotism with Perspective

As we celebrate the 243rd anniversary of America’s Independence, the holiday presents an opportunity to reflect on the nature of patriotism. At a fundamental level, patriotism is an expression of gratitude for citizenship in one’s nation. In this sense, it is a virtue. Affection for a place and people to whom you belong is imminently natural. Patriotism is also a profoundly complex…

A Quest for Perfection: Going it Solo

“For a brief moment, I feel perfect.” Alex Honnold’s revelatory statement is crucial to understanding the internal drive that led the climber to successfully scale Yosemite’s El Capitan alone, and without equipment—”free solo”—in June 2017. This pursuit is what drives the plot in Free Solo, the 2018 documentary directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Vasarhelyi.  When applied to Honnold’s staggering feat, “perfection”…

A Generation Enslaved: The Devastation of Pornography and a Cultural Revolt

  I became a subscriber to Sports Illustrated as a Freshman in high school. Being an athlete who played baseball and football, articles about professional sports naturally piqued my interest. But one issue that came every February never passed through my hands: The annual swimsuit edition. Mom made sure it moved swiftly from mail box to trash can. It was a few…

A Baptist Faith-Healing?

What is a Baptist understanding of miracles in the church today? While a diversity of views can be found, looking into the denomination’s past might illuminate the present. The Baptist tradition begins early in seventeenth-century, a tumultuous period in English history with various revolutionary religious and political changes, many of which are closely connected to Puritanism, a spiritual renewal movement that began…