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Meditations

October 4, 2008
Palin Watch IV: Post-Debate Musings
By Mary Beth Crain
This hockey mom belongs in the penalty box.
September 25, 2008
Palin Watch III: Dumb and Getting Dumber
By Mary Beth Crain
As she faced the formidable Katie Couric in her second big time interview, Sarah Palin was palin'.
September 20, 2008
Palin Watch, II: Secrets and Lies
By Mary Beth Crain
In the Sarah Palin Archives of Deception, "Troopergate" is front and center.
September 14, 2008
Palin Watch, I
By Mary Beth Crain
Have we really turned the country over to C students?
September 5, 2008
Backward, Christian Soldiers
By Mary Beth Crain
The Republicans are touting Sarah Palin as the new symbol of change. They're right--she's busy changing the clock back, way back.
August 22, 2008
A Sheep in Sheep's Clothing?
By John Fea
Eight years ago, John McCain locked horns with the Christian Right. Now he's one of them?
July 11, 2008
Jesse Jackson's Gaffe: Oh, Those Annoying Men of God
By Mary Beth Crain
Bothersome preachers have been a highlight of the 2008 presidential campaign. Where are these bigoted egomaniacs coming from, and how can they be stopped?
July 9, 2008
Just Married
By Stephanie Hunt
After 20 years of marriage, our author ponders the meaning of "I do."
June 23, 2008
Confessions of a Serial Killer's Mother
By Mary Beth Crain
In the midst of spring's grace and summer's radiance, God shows his cruel side.
April 28, 2008
The Rev. Wright Stuff
By Mary Beth Crain
Today's prophets aren't any more popular than they were in the time of another Jeremiah.
April 18, 2008
Why I Want to Be Pope
By Mary Beth Crain
The Holy Father has a private jet, a cadre of valets, and a pipeline to God. Wouldn't you want to be him?
March 13, 2008
High School Reunion Blues
By Mary Beth Crain
Wondering whether or not to go to your reunion? Take a tip from the Buddha--and stay home.
March 3, 2008
Pass the Holy Meatballs
By Mary Beth Crain
The religious experience of IKEA.
February 28, 2008
Adding God to Your Shopping Cart
By Timothy Beal
How religious consumerism is replacing religious literacy.
February 11, 2008
Nobody's Perfect
By Krista Tippett
And that, to NPR host Krista Tippett, is the charm of the Hebrew Bible.
February 6, 2008
The Soul of Spirituality
By R. Joseph Hoffmann
"Spirituality" is a term beloved by seekers and loathed by atheists. But what does it mean? For a fresh perspective, turn to an old book, Ecclesiastes.
January 30, 2008
Will Rogers, Where Are You?
By Mary Beth Crain
Presidential campaigns used to be weighted with intellect and livened with wit. What happened to the good old days?
January 28, 2008
Eggs Benedict
By Stephanie Hunt
PETA has targeted a South Carolina monastery's egg farm. But with Church's Fried Chicken and KFC down the road, couldn't they find bigger birds to fry?
January 15, 2008
New Year's Irresolutions?
By Mary Beth Crain
Struggling with your New Year's resolutions? The key is to stop dreaming and start doing.
January 4, 2008
The Paradox of Humility
By Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
In an age of narcissism and entitlement, humility may be the antidote we need. Now if we can just identify what it is.
December 24, 2007
My Taxicab Confession
By Mary Beth Crain
Reflections on a checkered birth.
December 19, 2007
From Humbug to Humble: "A Christmas Carol" Lives On
By Mary Beth Crain
Dickens' classic tale endures as a parable of the most important of Christmas gifts--forgiveness.
December 18, 2007
Scrooge in Reverse
By Greg Ruehlmann
The timeless message of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
December 7, 2007
You Call That a Latke?
By Mary Beth Crain
Chanukah is here, and so are latkes. But when people start fiddling with this sacred dish, watch out!
December 4, 2007
Kitchen "Kinks" and Evil Urges: A Domestic History, Part II
By Mary Beth Crain
From the Victorian age through the 1930s, medicine and moralizing went hand in hand, as doctors often doubled as preachers.
November 16, 2007
God and Man at Harvard
By R. Joseph Hoffmann
In 2006, Harvard made religion a core requirement. A year later, a secular humanist explains how the prestigious university got religion right.
November 15, 2007
Not Christian Enough
By Pam DiBona
An Episcopal couple was all set to adopt a Philippine boy until the orphanage found their faith lacking.
October 13, 2007
My Father's Suitcase
By Orhan Pamuk
The Nobel Lecture, 2006: "The writer's secret is not inspiration--for it is never clear where that comes from--but stubbornness, endurance."
October 8, 2007
Praise the Lord and Pass the Caffeine
By John Fea
Because coffee is so essential to churchgoing, a non-java-drinking believer ponders what his spiritual life has been missing all these years.
September 14, 2007
Flogging the Bishop
By Gawain de Leeuw
An Episcopal priest responds to Bishop Spong's open letter to Rowan Williams.
September 7, 2007
Caught in the Wrapture
By Stephanie Hunt
For this writer, back to school means fundraiser burnout as her kiddos go door-to-door like Jehovah's Witnesses, selling miles of gift wrap.
August 27, 2007
President Giuliani: "A Fate Worse Than Bush"?
By Paul O'Donnell
Liberals have long prayed for a "rational" GOP candidate, so why aren't more cheering Giuliani's bid? The fear at Harper's: Christian jihad.
August 22, 2007
Cleanliness Is Next to Craziness: A Domestic History, Part I
By Mary Beth Crain
One hundred years ago, the Lord's Day was often the only escape in the week from the thankless drudgery of keeping clean.
August 8, 2007
Protestants, Beware!
By John D. Spalding
Or, Mrs. Mortimer's bad-tempered guide to religion around the world.
August 1, 2007
Goodbye, My Friend
By Mary Beth Crain
SoMA contributor Roger Cox passed away on June 30. Mary Beth Crain remembers our good friend.
July 31, 2007
The Kosher King
By John D. Spalding
An Elvis impersonator searches for the King's Jewish roots.
July 23, 2007
A Jewish Tale of Woe
By Mary Beth Crain
To some, paradise is a place where cherubim cavort and heavenly choruses rejoice. To others, it's a hot kosher corned beef sandwich on Jewish rye.
July 18, 2007
It's Not Just About the Bike
By Stephanie Hunt
For this diehard fan, tuning into the Tour de France is a religious experience.
June 25, 2007
Mr. Wizard: In Memoriam
By Mary Beth Crain
Don Herbert, TV legend "Mr. Wizard," died June 12, just weeks before his 90th birthday. Our senior editor recalls her childhood hero.
June 12, 2007
Checkered Theology
By Jason Byassee
Want a free crash course in Islam? Just hail the right New York City cab.
June 2, 2007
Now That's a Stretch
By Stephanie Hunt
In "Yo-God!" classes, Christians bend over backwards to Jesusify their yoga.
May 24, 2007
The Peculiar Sounds of Grace
By Angela Balcita
Sometimes our bodies make not-so-joyful noises. But that doesn't mean God loves us any less.
May 16, 2007
The Video Messiah
By John D. Spalding
Jerry Falwell's greatest legacy? For me, it will always be his Instutute of Biblical Studies.
May 11, 2007
Dead Reckoning
By Mary Beth Crain
Want to know the exact day the Grim Reaper's going to come knocking at your door?
May 3, 2007
A Punjabi Garden, Part III
By Patricia Klindienst
A California gardener used the farming wisdom of her native India to create a suburban paradise that restored her soil--and sustains her soul.
May 2, 2007
A Punjabi Garden, Part II
By Patricia Klindienst
A California gardener used the farming wisdom of her native India to create a suburban paradise that restored her soil--and sustains her soul.
May 1, 2007
A Punjabi Garden, Part I
By Patricia Klindienst
A California gardener used the farming wisdom of her native India to create a suburban paradise that restored her soil--and sustains her soul.
April 26, 2007
Flash! Limbo No Longer in Limbo!
By Mary Beth Crain
For centuries, the Catholic Church has debated the existence of limbo. Now, Pope Benedict has finally put an end to the confusion.
April 23, 2007
America: Baseball, Apple Pie, and Rage Killing Sprees?
By Mark Ames
The Virginia Tech massacre demands we ask hard questions about our culture, and not simply dismiss the crime with a catchphrase.
April 8, 2007
Stepping Out to the Beat of the Holy Spirit
By Gawain de Leeuw
The Adventures of a Salsa-Dancing Priest
March 27, 2007
Does Famine Feed Faith? Beef Breed Blasphemy?
By Robert Ingersoll
A great 19th-century orator explains why Lent is a mistake.
March 22, 2007
For the Birds
By Mary Beth Crain
When peacocks, pheasants, roosters, and bats take up residence in your living room, it's no time to look a gift bird in the mouth.
February 12, 2007
Saint Maybe
By Stephanie Hunt
The saints assist everyone from furriers to barrel makers. But the list of heavenly helpers needs updating, starting with a few Protestant additions.
February 10, 2007
Darwin Matters
By Robert Cornwall
A pastor explains why his congregation will be observing Evolution Sunday tomorrow.
February 10, 2007
Trash and Tragedy: The Anna Nicole Saga
By Mary Beth Crain
Anna Nicole Smith is dead. So what?
January 23, 2007
Roger and Me
By Mary Beth Crain
This city gal knew she'd be mixing with hunters when she moved to rural Michigan. But chowing on squirrel stew with them?
January 20, 2007
If Dawkins Makes Sense to Me, Does That Make Me an Atheist?
By Benjamin Shobert
Richard Dawkins doesn't suffer fools kindly. That's part of his appeal. But isn't there a middle ground between atheism and creationism?
January 14, 2007
Dream On
By Stephanie Hunt
We've come a long way since MLK delivered "I Have a Dream" in 1963. Or so we'd like to think.
January 11, 2007
"Vintage Scriptures," Anyone?
By Amy-Jill Levine
Biblical scholar Amy-Jill Levine examines attempts to re-name the Good Book.
January 8, 2007
Food and God: Cooking as a Spiritual Calling
By Mary Beth Crain
With the holiday feeding frenzy behind us, our senior editor reflects upon the power of food to lift the human spirit and bring joy to the world.
January 1, 2007
Was the Buddha a Male Chauvinist?
By Dr. Robert Schwarz
The Buddha may not have thought men and women were equal, but don't judge him by our socially progressive values.
December 23, 2006
A Muslim in Congress--What's the World Coming to?
By Robert Cornwall
The election of Keith Ellison to Congress tests our ability to embrace diversity and honor the principles of free speech.
December 4, 2006
The Sustenance of Flame
By Stephanie Hunt
In a season marked by excess, candles can provide peace, warmth, and simplicity.
November 29, 2006
Oh Gee, O.J.
By Mary Beth Crain
We thought you couldn't sink any lower, but we were wrong. We thought the American public couldn't rise any higher, but we were wrong there, too.
November 27, 2006
It's Time to Talk
By Robert Cornwall
Ted Haggard's downfall should force the church to rethink its stance on homosexuality.
October 30, 2006
Night of the Laughing Dead
By Mary Beth Crain
This Halloween, our senior editor goes all out to make friends with the Grim Reaper.
October 16, 2006
The Faith Club
By Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
How three mothers—a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew—confronted their fears and differences to understand more about each other’s religions.
October 12, 2006
Finding the Right Balance
By Rev. Barry W. Lynn
Churches can and should address political, moral, and social issues—as long as they don’t break the “no-politicking” rule.
September 27, 2006
Saints Gone Wild
By John D. Spalding
Some of the Church’s very best people did some very bad things. A conversation with author Thomas J. Craughwell.
September 18, 2006
In the Soup: Pope Benedict Gets a Lesson in Irrationality
By Mary Beth Crain
SoMA’s official Vatican Watchdog championed the pope’s right to wear Prada shoes some months ago. Now she sides with him again, defending his right to free speech.
September 5, 2006
Death, Where Is Thy Stingray?
By Mary Beth Crain
Crocodile hunter and daredevil conservationist Steve Irwin died doing what he loved. Maybe his death wasn't a tragedy but a lesson in how to live.
August 31, 2006
Tranquility: The Many Facets of the Diamond
By Mary Beth Crain
To find true inner peace, we must be able to embrace life’s inherent paradoxes. Part III of SoMA’s “Summer Soul Series."
August 28, 2006
In Praise of Passive Aggression
By Ian Urbina
Sometimes the best way to respond to life’s grievances is to simply smile—and strike back.
August 10, 2006
Of Mosquitoes and Men
By William Whitehead
Mosquitoes suck our blood and ruin our picnics. So how could they possibly make us wiser, better people? You might be surprised.
August 9, 2006
Tequila Sunset
By John D. Spalding and Billy Frolick
How much booze does it take to turn a nice guy like Mel Gibson into a raging anti-Semite? Two brave writers ordered some rounds to find out.
July 29, 2006
Tranquility: The Storm Before the Calm
By Mary Beth Crain
How finding peace in life can be as easy (or as hard) as breathing. Part II of SoMA’s "Summer Soul Series."
July 25, 2006
Santiago!
By John D. Spalding
An unlikely pilgrim finds his way across Spain.
July 20, 2006
Giving Till It Hurts
By William Whitehead
How one pastor learned that charity has its limits.
July 15, 2006
Tranquility: Mystical State or Practical Tool?
By Mary Beth Crain
To find peace of mind, you just might have to lose yourself. Part I of SoMA’s "Summer Soul Series."
July 11, 2006
Going Dutch
By John D. Spalding
I’ve got the Amish broad-brimmed hat. But could I ever actually convert to the faith?
June 30, 2006
And Never the Twain Shall Meet
By John D. Spalding
Even though he’s become an icon of that vague national religion known as Americanism, Mark Twain and patriotism were sworn enemies.
June 30, 2006
As Regards Patriotism
By Mark Twain
Our greatest humorist considered America’s nationalistic fervor a false religion.
June 13, 2006
So, Maybe God Really IS a DJ
By Ben Westhoff
It's cool again for pop music to include religion and spirituality.
June 2, 2006
"The Sopranos"' Mob Catholicism
By Mary Beth Crain
To the characters on this HBO hit, killing, lying, stealing and cheating on your wife aren’t sins. But going gay sure is.
May 22, 2006
Our Savior, Simon Cowell
By Franklin Foer
Many consider the caustic “Idol” judge another sign of our cultural decline. But is he actually saving us from doom?
May 10, 2006
Little Drummer Boy Blues
By William Whitehead
Think new ideas split churches? Try introducing new music.
May 3, 2006
By Book or Bagel
By Laurel Snyder
The challenge of preserving Jewish culture in an intermarriage is to emphasize the content and not just the trappings of Judaism.
April 25, 2006
Maxim's 100th Issue
By John D. Spalding
As the leading lads mag celebrates a milestone, a former contributor milks his millisecond of fame and says “thanks for the memories.”
April 21, 2006
An Easter Parade for the Dogs
By Mary Beth Crain
Our contributing editor fulfills a lifelong dream—to judge a dog show.
April 13, 2006
Cross Purposes
By Kenneth E. Kovacs
Easter is a time to reclaim the cross as a symbol of healing and hope.
April 5, 2006
The Art of Giving
By Miroslav Volf
A Yale theologian reflects on cultivating generosity in a graceless culture.
April 3, 2006
Big Church Envy
By William Whitehead
Sometimes church size does matter.
March 29, 2006
The Hand of Justice
By John D. Spalding
Whether Scalia flicked his fingers or flipped the bird, what would his CCD teacher say?
March 22, 2006
Does God Want a Wall Between Church and State?
By Steven Waldman
One group certainly thought so—18th-century evangelical Christians.
March 16, 2006
Superstition: The Faith We All Share
By John D. Spalding
Everyone thinks superstitions are silly. But everyone seems to have one.
March 9, 2006
Holy War
By Jason Byassee
A church mural in Brazil reminds us that gods who fight for nations often don't take prisoners.
March 7, 2006
Will Christians Help Save the Planet?
By J. Matthew Sleeth, M.D.
Perhaps. But only if they stop debating the reality of global warming and start addressing it.
March 3, 2006
The Real Heartbreak About “Brokeback”
By Katherine E. Willis Pershey
Think this Oscar favorite is too “political”? Unfortunately, the love between real gay and lesbian couples is politicized everyday.
February 27, 2006
An Accident of Mirth
By Mary Beth Crain
My mother, 85-year-old Hazel Gersten, the world’s best Jew, takes communion by mistake—and thinks it’s funny!
February 14, 2006
My Furry Valentines
By Mary Beth Crain
God bless all creatures great and small—especially small!
February 14, 2006
A Slut for Faith
By Laurel Snyder
Why God’s girl eloped to Vegas.
January 19, 2006
Nothing for Something
By Mary Beth Crain
Beware the siren call of spam.
January 9, 2006
That's Funny, You Don’t Sound Jewish
By Mary Beth Crain
What’s in a name? Lots more than you think.
December 31, 2005
Santa Cohen Is Comin' to Town
By Mary Beth Crain
For all the poor Jews who never got a Santa, this is my Grandma Annie's gift to you.
December 22, 2005
Christmas Wars...Again?
By Michael Lerner
The Jews and secularists did not steal Christmas. But it has been stolen.
December 8, 2005
Just as I Am
By John D. Spalding
A wild, speeding bus can blast a soul to hell. So thank God for altar calls and instant salvation!
December 4, 2005
First Church of the Higher Elevations
By Peter Anderson
Spend a winter alone in a mountain cabin, as this writer did, and you’ll experience cold, fear, loneliness, and, just maybe, the sacred
November 23, 2005
Red Hot Papa
By Mary Beth Crain
Popes have long concealed plain red shoes under their cassocks. But Benedict XVI has raised his hemlines to reveal stylin' lipstick-red Prada loafers.
November 16, 2005
Confessions of a Madonna/Whore
By Mary Beth Crain
My enlightening experience as a priest's backstreet girl.
November 16, 2005
God Save the Queens
By Uta Ranke-Heinemann
A world-renowned theologian explains how celibacy and homosexuality go hand-in-hand in the Catholic Church.
November 16, 2005
It's Not Okay to Say It's Not Okay
By John Tyler Connoley
Unless the Catholic Church revises its views on homosexuality and celibacy, it will continue to lose some of its best people.
November 10, 2005
Grace in the Golden Wind
By Roger Cox
To prepare for his mother’s death, our writer went on a retreat. He found peace—only after deprivation, pain, and a clash with a flatulent Buddhist.
November 1, 2005
Betraying Jesus
By Jim Wallis
The author of “God’s Politics” explains how American Christianity has distorted the gospel and become spiritually bankrupt.
October 24, 2005
The Good Death
By Kristina Robb-Dover
A hospice chaplain reflects on the similarities between dying well and living well.
October 19, 2005
A Haircut and a Theology Lecture
By Jason Byassee
The trim cost our correspondent 13 bucks. The discourse on salvation, however, was free.
October 14, 2005
The Wireless Soul
By Lincoln Swain
Instant communication may make us feel more connected. But it’s actually separating us—from each other and ourselves.
October 14, 2005
Too Close For Comfort
By John D. Spalding
In the cell-phone age, everything you never wanted to know about everyone else is always within earshot.
October 7, 2005
Yum—Kippers!
By Mary Beth Crain
As the "Day of Atonement” approaches, reflections on a holiday spent with God, sin, and an empty stomach.
October 1, 2005
Oh, Brother!
By Roger Cox
For decades, this writer wondered what he would do if he ever ran into the priest who’d abused him. Then, one day, he did...
September 28, 2005
A Taste of Homelessness
By David Nantais
As a novice, this former Jesuit tried living briefly on the streets. What he did (and didn’t) learn about being homeless.
September 19, 2005
Can We Prevent Future Katrinas?
By J. Matthew Sleeth, M.D.
An “eco-evangelical” author issues a Christian call to action.
September 14, 2005
The Stuff of Life
By Karen Spears Zacharias
Katrina’s survivors lost more than homes and jobs. They lost the ordinary, everyday objects that defined their lives.
September 11, 2005
No Brownie Points for This "Brownie"
By Mary Beth Crain
If Mike Brown really was a Girl Scout in training, FEMA would have been prepared.
September 6, 2005
Coping with Katrina
By Dayne Sherman
Writing in exile, a Louisiana novelist reflects on one of our nation's worst natural disasters.
August 21, 2005
Preaching the Bad News
By Kristina Robb-Dover
Is the Therapeutic Gospel turning Christ’s activists into couch potatoes?
August 17, 2005
Got MILF?
By John D. Spalding
Oh, come on. Everyone has a “Minister I’d Like to Frisk.”
August 12, 2005
Tithing for Dummies
By Dan Barker
A former Assemblies of God pastor explains how "giving till it hurts" really can hurt.
August 8, 2005
The Most Famous Christian of the 20th Century?
By Robert Flynn
Hint: He was born in Austria, tried to take over the world, and no, he’s not the Governor of California.
August 3, 2005
The SoMA Idolatry Quiz
By John D. Spalding
Is your faith honest and genuine, or do you worship a golden calf? Answer these 10 questions to find out.
July 29, 2005
New Rules for Religion
By Bill Maher
The world of faith has always been nuts. Now, comedian Bill Maher tries to provide some order.
July 18, 2005
Super-Powered Jesus Flutters in the Wind
By Will Braun
Can the U.S. really be a theocracy without a high-flyin' national Christian flag? Well, now it has one.
July 8, 2005
King of the Hill
By Mary Beth Crain
Jesus reigns in spectacolor at Hill Cumorah’s annual Mormon Pageant.
July 7, 2005
Stop, Look, Listen
By Matthew Moran
An evangelical Christian says there's a time to quit preaching and start hearing what God has to say.
June 10, 2005
The King of Fears
By Lincoln Swain
Sure, we all dread the Grim Reaper. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't get to know him better.
June 4, 2005
Ghost in the Shell
By Lincoln Swain
In part II of SoMA's "The Anti-Purpose-Driven Life" series, Swain argues that care of the body is as important as care of the soul.
June 2, 2005
Agape: Far More Than a Smile
By Mary Beth Crain
Divine love is such a complex and demanding ideal that it can’t be reduced to an easy-listening sound bite.
May 27, 2005
The Anti-Purpose-Driven Life
By Lincoln Swain
God gave us free will to chart our own destiny.
May 24, 2005
DeLay-ed Reaction
By Mary Beth Crain
As accusations of ethics violations mount, Tom DeLay, the darling of the Christian Right, responds by invoking God and ducking the truth.
May 23, 2005
A Birthday Party for Whores
By Lincoln Swain
Agape is the love that can can conquer hate, fear, and isolation—anywhere. First, we have to cultivate it.
May 6, 2005
To Creed, or Not to Creed
By Puck Purnell
An Episcopal priest wrestles with the ancient words he recites Sunday after Sunday.
April 28, 2005
Bad Theology Creates Bad Ecology
By John Shelby Spong
A leading voice for progressive Christianity says that either traditional theism goes, or the earth goes.
April 11, 2005
Nuns Saved Me from Nuts
By Jemima Lewis
As religious fanatics start to come out of the woodwork in England, a British columnist argues that education is the best defense.
April 11, 2005
Wrestling with the God of Love
By Teresa Blythe
Parishioners raised to fear God often have trouble accepting grace. This writer says progressive clergy could do more to help them.
March 23, 2005
"Father, Forgive Them"
By Stanley Hauerwas
A leading theologian explores the mystery of one of Jesus' last sayings.
March 18, 2005
Boob Tube Nation
By David Dark
Our popular media culture is turning us into ignorant narcissists. Why should we care? For one thing, it's threatening our national security.
February 28, 2005
The Founding Evangelicals?
By John D. Spalding
David Barton wants to put God back in American history. But whose God—history's or his?
February 18, 2005
Support Our Peacemakers
By Daniel J. Webster
We publicly honor teens who decide to join the Army. Why don't we pay similar tributes to young people who choose a life of nonviolence?
February 9, 2005
Bringing Out the Dead
By Timothy Taylor
An archaeologist explains what his field can tell us about death and the human soul.
January 21, 2005
Faith-Based Fitness
By Denali Dasgupta
Religion is used to market everything from books to politicians. But diets and exercise programs? Of course.
January 14, 2005
Gay Leaders in the Church
By Puck Purnell
What do slavery and circumcision have to do with the debate over ordaining homosexuals? An Episcopal priest explains.
January 11, 2005
Shopper, Repent!
By Bill Talen, a.k.a. Reverend Billy
The leader of the Church of Stop Shopping explains how consumerism corrupts us—and how “not-buying” is our salvation.
January 11, 2005
The Retail Church
By Chris Thron
As American churches become more like retail stores, they're ruining communities and distorting the Gospel.
December 16, 2004
I'm Dreaming of a Blue Christmas
By John D. Spalding
Christmas is insufferable because we expect too much. A few depressing tales would provide some balance.
December 11, 2004
TV Preachers
By Gordon Atkinson
This Real Live Preacher explains why the guys on TV make him feel like a "jack-booted, lock-step, weak-minded Jesus Nazi."
December 11, 2004
In Defense of Ole
By John D. Spalding
Ole Anthony exposes crooked televangelists. So why does a Republican strategist have a beef with him?
December 7, 2004
A List of Screwy Christian Stuff
By Patton Dodd
Seeking an authentic faith and a solid education, this writer enrolled at Oral Roberts University. Soon, he was questioning his choice of schools—and keeping a list.
November 29, 2004
Roll Over for the Christian Right?
By John D. Spalding
That's not what Jesus would do.
November 13, 2004
Ah, Boredom!
By John D. Spalding
Don't dread the "noontide demon." Boredom can teach us a lot about human nature, freedom, and—just maybe—God.
November 1, 2004
Beware the Scruples
By Mary Beth Crain
An overindulgence in religious guilt can make fools of us all—even those with PhDs. (Part I of "The Deborah Trilogy.")
November 1, 2004
The Socratic Art of Boxing
By Gordon Marino
A philosopher (and former boxer) explains how a trip to the canvas can be a lesson in moral virtue.



Rants & Raves

September 23, 2008
Holy Crap
By Billy Frolick
Joe Eszterhas turns his rapture into a purpose-driven pitch.
April 15, 2008
Entering the Kingdom of Kitsch
By Timothy Beal
Daniel Radosh's excellent adventure in the quirky world of Christian pop culture.
March 7, 2008
Reading the Jesus Story
By John D. Spalding
A review of Garry Wills' "What the Gospels Meant."
February 8, 2008
Becky Garrison's Immodest Proposal
By Mary Beth Crain
A review of "The New Atheist Crusaders and Their Unholy Grail."
December 26, 2007
Christianity's Image Problem
By Robert Cornwall
A recent Fermi Project and Barna Group study shows that young Americans think most Christians aren't very Christlike.
November 16, 2007
The Faith Between Them
By Astrid Storm
In a joint memoir, Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb chronicle how their friendship has inspired their faith.
September 20, 2007
Preacher Beecher and the Molding of the American Christian Mind
By Mary Beth Crain
A review of Debby Applegate's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography.
September 14, 2007
An Open Letter to Rowan Williams
By John Shelby Spong
The former bishop of Newark explains why the archbishop of Canterbury has failed to be the leader the Church wanted and needed.
August 30, 2007
A-spiring to God
By Matthew J. Milliner
The traditional religious architecture of Ralph Adams Cram.
August 18, 2007
Wrestling With Rauschenbusch
By Paul O'Donnell
Evangelicals may be returning to their 19th-century roots in activism, but they still struggle with the "father of the Social Gospel."
June 21, 2007
Not Your Father's Chastity. Or Is It?
By Astrid Storm
Dawn Eden's version of the New Chastity sounds awfully familiar.
June 15, 2007
How Great Thou Aren't?
By Paul O'Donnell
Christopher Hitchens' new book blasts religion. But can reason alone solve humanity's problems?
June 12, 2007
So Long, Tony Phony Baloney
By Mary Beth Crain
"The Sopranos"' finale could have been a brilliant synthesis of character study and spiritual questioning. Instead, it was one big fat cop-out.
April 26, 2007
Limbo, R.I.P.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least important and 10 the most, where would you put limbo?
April 5, 2007
The Secret of My Success
By Mary Beth Crain
Our senior editor tried the techniques in Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret"--and her dreams came true. A coincidence? Or The Secret at work?
March 31, 2007
I Don't Care If It Rains or Freezes, Long as I Have My Chocolate Jesus
By Mary Beth Crain
They've got chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs at Easter. So why not a chocolate Jesus? Trouble is, he's a work of art, and he's nekkid.
March 30, 2007
Their Kingdom Come
By Robert Cornwall
Randall Balmer on the rise of the Religious Right.
March 30, 2007
A Road Trip Through Evangelical America
By Benjamin Shobert
Alexandra Pelosi explores how evangelical Christianity is growing, but not why.
March 26, 2007
Apocalypse Now
By Stephanie Hunt
The cautionary tale of Chris Hedges' "American Fascists."
March 13, 2007
Jew Punks
By Eva Geertz
Steven Lee Beeber explores punk rock's Jewish roots.
March 10, 2007
God Talk
By John D. Spalding
Natalie d'Arbeloff's fanciful interviews with the Almighty.
January 25, 2007
Hip Puritan Sex
By Astrid Storm
In his latest book, Rob Bell gives a slick makeover to some old truisms and prejudices about sex.
January 15, 2007
Armed & Lame-Ass
By Billy Frolick
In the latest reality TV nightmare, five sort-of celebs patrol the streets with real guns and badges.
December 15, 2006
A Sly Feat
By Billy Frolick
Our reviewer expected to hate Stallone's "Rocky Balboa." So he was shocked to find it holds up to the 1976 original.
December 13, 2006
House of Tiny Brains
By Mary Beth Crain
Nitwit parents and horrible toddlers collide in "House of Tiny Terrors," The Learning Channel's newest addition to the reality TV cesspool.
November 17, 2006
The Joy of Kooky Cooking
By Eva Geertz
Amy Sedaris' tongue-in-cheek (and surprisingly helpful) guide to entertaining.
October 2, 2006
Illuminating Letters
By Eva Geertz
Artist Adam Rhine explores the mystical nature of the Hebrew alphabet.
September 14, 2006
Resurrecting Jesus
By Astrid Storm
In “Through Mark’s Eyes,” an Episcopal priest retells the Gospel that brings us closest to the historical Jesus.
August 16, 2006
A Fine Mess
By Mary Beth Crain
Are you a dysfunctional loser living in a pigsty? Then call “Clean House,” the reality show that rewards gross deviance with a quick fix.
July 27, 2006
A Narf Is a Narf, Already!
By Billy Frolick
M. Night Shyamalan goes off the deep end with “Lady in the Water.”
June 2, 2006
"The Sopranos"' Mob Catholicism
By Mary Beth Crain
To the characters on this HBO hit, killing, lying, stealing and cheating on your wife aren’t sins. But going gay sure is.
June 1, 2006
Gays in the Church
By Puck Purnell
A book examining homosexuality in the global church offers new perspectives on familiar debates.
May 8, 2006
Growing Up Half-Jewish
By Eva Geertz
A new collection of essays examines how intermarriage affects children.
April 26, 2006
"God or the Girl": A Final Assessment
By Mary Beth Crain
Our strong-stomached critic endures the rest of the series, resisting a temptation to flip over to the Food Network.
April 26, 2006
God Help Us
By Father David Nuss
The real problem with “God or the Girl," tastelessness aside? It distorts the ordination discernment process.
April 15, 2006
Pictures of Jesus
By John D. Spalding
Two new books attempt to bring Jesus’ world to life, with vastly different results.
April 10, 2006
I Hate Christian Rock
By David Nantais
What’s to like? The music is mediocre, the message is obnoxiously pious...
April 10, 2006
Power in the Roots
By Katherine E. Willis Pershey
Thanks to some stodgy old hymns, contemporary Christian music is becoming surprisingly good.
March 21, 2006
True Grace
By Jason Byassee
Miroslav Volf’s latest book explores two of life’s greatest challenges: giving and forgiving.
January 19, 2006
Back to the Basics
By John D. Spalding
In “The Call to Conversion,” Jim Wallis urges Christians to rethink what it means to follow Jesus.
January 12, 2006
Desperate Clergy
By Teresa Blythe
You’ll need a Dramamine to get through this dramedy.
January 2, 2006
Christian Sex
By John D. Spalding
Two recent books explore age-old questions about sex and the life of faith.
December 22, 2005
Defending Christmas
By Kathryn Joyce
Are liberals stealing our sacred holiday, or do John Gibson and conservative Christians need to lay off the eggnog? A review of “The War on Christmas.”
November 16, 2005
Not Your Typical Love Story
By David Nantais
In his moving memoir “Vows,” Peter Manseau explores the lives of his parents—a former nun and a priest who married but refused to renounce his orders.
October 1, 2005
The Accidental Virgin
By Jason Byassee
With a film about a guy who can't get any, Hollywood scores, despite itself.
May 14, 2005
Lauren Winner: Reformed Sinner or Canny Opportunist?
By Astrid Storm
In her new book on sex, the onetime "evangelical whore" morphs into her old nemesis, the Church Lady.
April 13, 2005
The Antichrist Is Coming, the Antichrist Is Coming! To NBC, That Is.
By John D. Spalding
Could the new series "Revelations" possibly be as bad as it sounds? The evidence suggests it'll be even worse.
April 6, 2005
Critique of Pure Hokum
By Jennifer Michael Hecht
A philosopher's book-length essay on the differences between lying and bullshitting.
March 15, 2005
Baby Talk
By John D. Spalding
Today's parenting books are more rough guides than how-to manuals—full of humor, shared wisdom, and heartbreak.
January 27, 2005
God's Politics?
By Katha Pollitt
Jim Wallis’ latest book calls for a Christianized progressive politics. But WWFFD—What Would the Founding Fathers Do?
December 24, 2004
Paul—Christianity's Unlikely Champion
By John D. Spalding
John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed examine one of Christianity's enigmatic founders.
December 16, 2004
I'm Dreaming of a Blue Christmas
By John D. Spalding
Christmas is insufferable because we expect too much. A few depressing tales would provide some balance.
December 11, 2004
In Defense of Ole
By John D. Spalding
Ole Anthony exposes crooked televangelists. So why does a Republican strategist have a beef with him?
November 1, 2004
Why I Love Lauren Winner
By Phyllis Stine
A conservative Christian explains her devotion to the girl who met God.
November 1, 2004
Genghis Khan: Liberal Philosopher King?
By Stephen Healey
Sure, he butchered thousands. But the maligned Mongolian leader may have done as much for religious freedom as Thomas Jefferson.



Divine Madness

January 18, 2008
Oh Beautiful for Specious Highs...
By Mary Beth Crain
And ambushed waves of brain? With the candidates in flux, the pundits making too much of too little, and the b.s. meter on overdose, the '08 race wheezes on.
January 13, 2008
No Dog's Behind Left Behind
By Billy Frolick
Global warming? World hunger? Forget it. Put your money where it really counts--into a set of wheels for Fido.
July 19, 2007
Top Ten Onion Religion Stories
By John D. Spalding
The Onion has published scores of great religion pieces. Here are ten of the best.
July 12, 2007
Jane Austen Meets Jesus
By John D. Spalding
The book that will make me rich and famous.
June 20, 2007
An Open Letter to Seth MacFarlane
By John D. Spalding
Hey, "Family Guy" guy. Can we borrow Stewie to dump on religion?
December 6, 2006
Bush Babes Beheaded
By Adrian Hein
Why it could suck if you got kidnapped and your dad is a president who doesn't negotiate with terrorists.
November 6, 2006
Saddam in Heaven
By Mary Beth Crain
For those who think that a quick death is too good for the bastard, fret not. Because in the next life, he's got a big surprise coming.
September 1, 2006
Help! Police! Somebody Stole My Limelight!
By John Mark Karr
Or, Damn That DNA! "Captain Highpants" sends an open letter to Nancy Grace.
August 9, 2006
Tequila Sunset
By John D. Spalding and Billy Frolick
How much booze does it take to turn a nice guy like Mel Gibson into a raging anti-Semite? Two brave writers ordered some rounds to find out.
May 11, 2006
Our Cat Enters Heaven
By Margaret Atwood
In the Great Beyond, God is a tough feline that likes a balanced universe.
May 4, 2006
Salome Was a Dancer
By Margaret Atwood
A celebrated author recasts the story of the girl who asked for John the Baptist’s head.
April 21, 2006
For the Love of Agape
By Robert Flynn
A religious sex shop where devout Judeo-Christians can find the perfect accoutrements for a hot night for God.
March 2, 2006
I’ll Be Having a Gay Old Time Watching the Oscars
By Scott La Counte
Our correspondent explains how he discovered he was gay—in every way but that way.
December 1, 2005
Poppy's Conversion Aversion
By Becky Garrison
If George W. Bush really became a Christian, he might just get a letter of concern from his dad.
October 14, 2005
Too Close For Comfort
By John D. Spalding
In the cell-phone age, everything you never wanted to know about everyone else is always within earshot.
September 16, 2005
John Bunyan's Reformation
By John D. Spalding and Tamara Jaffe-Notier
The 17th-century Puritan minister gets a nipple ring, a tattoo, and a new book deal. Sort of.
September 1, 2005
Raising a Spiritual Chihuahua
By Mary Beth Crain
It's tougher than you think.
August 17, 2005
Got MILF?
By John D. Spalding
Oh, come on. Everyone has a “Minister I’d Like to Frisk.”
August 3, 2005
The SoMA Idolatry Quiz
By John D. Spalding
Is your faith honest and genuine, or do you worship a golden calf? Answer these 10 questions to find out.
July 29, 2005
New Rules for Religion
By Bill Maher
The world of faith has always been nuts. Now, comedian Bill Maher tries to provide some order.
July 15, 2005
Dem Bones, Dem Bones
By Mary Beth Crain
Or, what would you do with a chip off the old saint’s vertebra? (Part III of "The Deborah Trilogy.")
June 23, 2005
The Five People You Meet in Hell
By Rich Pablum
In this parody of Mitch Albom's bestseller, the afterlife is infinitely less than it's cracked up to be.
May 4, 2005
A Tale of Religious Masochism
By Mary Beth Crain
Or, there's room for two on that cross. (Part II of "The Deborah Trilogy.")
March 28, 2005
My So-Called Bedouin Life
By John D. Spalding
What if evolution is just a theory? SoMA's editor bravely followed the implications of this possibility wherever they led— and wound up living in a tent.
December 1, 2004
That New-Time Religion
By Tony Hendra
A top-secret memo from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to party chiefs has just been circulated. Somehow it landed in our inbox.
November 1, 2004
Beware the Scruples
By Mary Beth Crain
An overindulgence in religious guilt can make fools of us all—even those with PhDs. (Part I of "The Deborah Trilogy.")
November 1, 2004
Why I Love Lauren Winner
By Phyllis Stine
A conservative Christian explains her devotion to the girl who met God.



Dialogues

December 17, 2007
The First Christmas
By John D. Spalding
John Dominic Crossan explains what the gospels really tell us about the birth of Jesus.
November 11, 2007
A Doubter on a Mission From God
By John D. Spalding
A.J. Jacbos discusses his extreme--and extremely funny--"Year of Living Biblically."
November 9, 2007
The Bard of Main Street
By Bill McGarvey
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo discusses fathers and sons, a vanishing America, and his latest book, "Bridge of Sighs."
September 5, 2007
Reshaping Religion Journalism in the 21st Century
By John D. Spalding
An interview with media visionary and News21 editorial director Merrill Brown.
June 21, 2007
Sexless in the City
By Bill McGarvey
Blogger and former rock journalist Dawn Eden discusses "The Thrill of the Chaste."
June 15, 2007
Christopher Hitchens: Why "Religion Poisons Everything"
By Laura Sheahen
The controversial author says if the God of faith existed life would be "worse than hell."
December 18, 2006
Apocalypse Then
By John D. Spalding
If Jesus was wrong about the world ending 2,000 years ago, what does it mean to follow him today? An interview with Bart D. Ehrman.
October 31, 2006
The Zombie Gospel
By John D. Spalding
What could the undead of George Romero's horror films teach the living about life? Plenty. A conversation with author Kim Paffenroth.
October 16, 2006
The Faith Club
By Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
How three mothers—a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew—confronted their fears and differences to understand more about each other’s religions.
September 27, 2006
Saints Gone Wild
By John D. Spalding
Some of the Church’s very best people did some very bad things. A conversation with author Thomas J. Craughwell.
September 24, 2006
No Prosthesis for Jesus
By John Sparks and Mary Beth Crain
To avoid hell, a Christian chose death over the amputation of a gangrenous limb. Gotta love that old-time, fear-based religion!
May 16, 2006
Hugh Hefner: Man of God?
By Cathleen Falsani
A visit to the Playboy Mansion for a theological chat with the man who led the sexual revolution.
April 29, 2005
A Gay Rally at Focus on the Family
By John D. Spalding
Don't expect James Dobson to show up at this "family picnic and protest" in Colorado Springs.
April 20, 2005
"A Humble Intellect"
By John D. Spalding
Controversial German theologian Uta Ranke-Heinemann explains why she's glad her former classmate has been made pope.



Dispatches

April 11, 2008
Missionary Reposition
By Stephanie Hunt
For our writer, the challenges of a Honduran mission trip began before touchdown.
July 25, 2006
Santiago!
By John D. Spalding
An unlikely pilgrim finds his way across Spain.
July 11, 2006
Going Dutch
By John D. Spalding
I’ve got the Amish broad-brimmed hat. But could I ever actually convert to the faith?
November 7, 2005
Soul in a Dunce Cap
By Mary Roach
The author of “Stiff” (and now “Spook”) enrolls in an English medium school.
July 12, 2005
Laughing at Death
By John D. Spalding
Does the fact that you're going to die ever get you down? Well, that's nothing a little spin in a pink hearse can't fix.
June 27, 2005
Nesting Habits
By Timothy K. Beal
As the end of the world draws near, an Alabama man takes shelter in a nest of crosses.




   
             
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