Kabul scarf.

The Kabul Scarf

It’s New Year’s Eve, and last night my colleague at Waging Nonviolence, Eric Stoner, returned safely from Afghanistan. He was there as a journalist and activist with an envoy of peacemakers, meeting networks of Afghans and internationals who are working to end the endless war, to which so many young people in that country have…

Killing the Buddha

Taking the Christ Out of Christmas

My brother and I got into a fight at the Christmas dinner table. This year it wasn’t our usual conservative-vs.-liberal spat, over homosexuality or abortion. (My brother is a Bible-believing Evangelical who reads Athanasius, to grasp the fullness of the Trinitarian God. I’m a Babel-believing writer who reads Flannery O’Connor, to hear revelation in the…

From Scott Clark, via Flickr.

I Laughed When I Saw Him, in Spite of Myself

Learning to lie to your kids.

Atheist's Guide to Christmas

Have Yourself a Godless Little Christmas

When I penned a piece on the latest round of anti-God campaigns for Washington Post’s On Faith column, I observed how the tenor among atheists seems to have softened this year. Instead of trying to de-convert people of faith, most atheists and humanist groups simply want to create a space for themselves to celebrate the holiday…

menorah ipod

A Hanukkah Miracle

Nes Katan Hayah Po. A small miracle happened here. Here, of all places, on the Metro Transit Authority’s turf. That’s what I thought, at least, when I stepped off the Q train and onto the platform of the 30th Avenue stop. I had to laugh. I should explain why. The ancient history: The Judeans found…

Maccabees killing a Hellenizer.

What’s the Real Story of Hanukkah?

Our friends over at Obit are taking a super-revisionist approach to the Hanukkah story: Some time ago, a group of fanatics grew irritated and agitated by the lack of zeal demonstrated by some of their co-religionists, many of them wealthy and educated. A number of these non-zealots were assimilating at a fast pace into modern…

xmas tree

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

I heard a radio commercial recently singing the praises of locally-farmed Christmas trees. Eco-friendly, ’cause a bunch of trees are planted for each farmed tree. Natural, not full of plastic. Supporting local farmers. Smells good and all that. Sure. But, to me,  it’s still a dead tree which gets dolled up like a corpse, laid…

Michael Ruse

Give Thanks for Guy Fawkes

Philosopher of science Michael Ruse writes at the Chronicle: I grew up in England, so of course I knew nothing of Thanksgiving.  Our fall celebration was November Fifth, Guy Fawkes Night, when we used to light bonfires and let off fireworks—no safety restrictions in those days—and celebrate the foiling of the Catholic plot to blow…

"Transgender Day of Remembrance" by moonty via Flickr.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th marks the 12th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize those who have been killed by anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This event began when 250 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in 1998 following the murder of Rita Hester, a woman who was transsexual and a fixture in the Boston rock…


The Dark Side of the Festival of Lights

I knew something was changing in India when I arrived for Diwali about ten years back and some of my nephews were boycotting the five-day Hindu Festival of Lights. While subtler forms of light are used too—a cascade of clay oil lamps illuminating sets of stairs—firecrackers are the big attraction in this annual commemoration of good over…

Photo of Ofelia Rivas by Jason Jacks for The Sierra Club.

Today Needs Another Name

This Columbus Day, the spirit of 1492 is alive and well.


Season of the Witch

Tea Party candidates aside, I’m always thrilled by the pagan good times offered by Halloween, and what is now called the Halloween season. We are approaching the time of year when many cultures consider the membrane between the worlds to be the thinnest. I enjoy celebrating the Feast of All Saints on November 1st, and…

Killing the Buddha

Sukkah City

Looking up through kosher structures.


Let Freedom Wring

I didn’t know it was Banned Books Week when I attended the discussion on Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian at the school library last night. Nor had I read the book, though it seemed worth supporting. Heck, anything that gets my 19-year-old welding and construction students to…

"Repas de Notre-Seigneur et des apôtres" by James Tissot, c. 1886-1894. Brooklyn Museum.

Jesus and the Sukkah

Why did they have to build a church over Christ’s Table?

Mount Azazel by deror_avi

Azazel’s Home for Wayward Goats

A Yom Kippur midrash.

Killing the Buddha

Independence Day, almost

This one day during basic training when we did a night live fire exercise crawling under exploding things made me kind of done with fireworks. I was low-crawling through the sand with tracer bullets flying overhead (“Don’t stand up, or you might get killed,” they told us, though I figured the bullets were probably higher…

"Stone Circle" by clspeace via Flickr.


A new generation, an ancient festival, a spot in the park.