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What You Need To Know

We arrive in this world knowing surprisingly little.  Many creatures are born with a basic set of knowledge that helps them survive, but that’s not true for people.  Humans lack instincts for even the most basic needs and are profoundly helpless for a prolonged period of time after birth.  We have to learn what to […]

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The Man With A Radio In His Big Toe

When I was in seminary, I interned as a chaplain in a VA mental hospital.  I worked in a locked ward for Vietnam vets.  Many were schizophrenics with psychotic features, meaning they heard voices and saw things the rest of us don’t.  I’d arrive in the morning as the unit lined up for orange juice […]

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It Takes A Neanderthal

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.  You know why?  Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply.  They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.  […]

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Storage Nation

Seven square feet of commercial storage space now exists for every American.  That’s nearly a quarter of a five-by-five self-storage unit for each man, woman, and child in the U.S., or one whole unit for each average family, or over 2 billion total storage square feet nationally, whichever number makes you more queasy.  I can’t […]

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Casualties Of A Different War

My father grew up on a small, family dairy farm in upstate New York.  He would get out of bed at four in the morning, milk cows, deliver milk, and then go to school.  I have a few old milk bottles imprinted with the label of Dann’s All-Star Dairy. That was back in the 1930s.  […]

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What’s Precious and What’s Not

There’s nothing like moving to make you separate what’s precious from what’s not.  I’ve moved eleven times in the last seventeen years.  Somewhere back around move number four I cut my library in half.  At different places along the way I’ve left behind desks, bookshelves, chairs, a tiller, and partial stake in a foosball table.  […]

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Penn State and Us

When I worked with drug addicts, I had a client named Ben.  Ben was in his early twenties, a warehouse worker, a high school drop-out, and an alcoholic who snorted cocaine occasionally.  He was in treatment because the beer and coke exacerbated his temper.  Ben was not a friendly drunk.  Fights with his girlfriends often […]

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The Limits of Occupying Wall Street

I’ve been trying to decide what I think about the Occupy Wall Street crowd camped out in New York City’s Zucotti Park.  I came of age in the late Sixties, and they remind me a little of that time—a disparate bunch, loosely organized around a sense of injustice, with more than a few joining in […]

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Jesus Didn’t Work At Goldman-Sachs

In 2008, at the height of the banking crisis, Lloyd Blankfein attended a meeting with government officials about the insurance giant AIG.  As chairman of Goldman-Sachs, he presided over the purchase of insurance on investments the bank knew would go bad.  Along with other banks who did the same thing, they drove AIG, the world’s […]

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