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A Time to Be Silent

I haven’t been able to write an essay for a while. I could call it an extended case of writer’s block, except that doesn’t explain very much. Who knows what blocks a writer? I could say I ran out of things to say, except that isn’t true. Just ask the classes I teach; they endure […]

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Our Greatest Enemy

No hate can hurt, no foe can harm, as hurts and harms a mind ill-disciplined.  -Buddha No nation in the history of the world spends more on defending itself than the United States.  According to the Defense Department, the U.S. will expend $687 billion in 2013 on the military, with an additional $54 billion for […]

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Confucius Says

If the leaders desire what is good, the people will become good also.  –Confucius Some people doubt if Confucianism is a religion.  Confucius never talked about a god; he didn’t discuss the afterlife.  His sole interest was establishing what he called The Mandate of Heaven upon the earth.  He envisioned a perfect society, without crime, […]

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A Time For Silence

“It’s all beyond me—how can I reply to you?  I put my hand over my mouth.”  – Job 40: 4 Sometimes nothing can be said.  Not everything can be put into words.  Language often trivializes what we’re trying to express, because our lexicon is completely inadequate to the occasion.  To say the universe is vast […]

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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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Murderers

The string of homicides gaining national attention over the last few weeks have caused me to reminisce about the murderers I’ve known.  Working in an urban outpatient clinic for substance abusers caused me to meet more than a few.  A majority of the people who walked in our doors were in trouble with the law, […]

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Is That A Gun Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

German police fired a total of 85 bullets in 2011.  49 were warning shots.  With the rest, 15 people were wounded and 6 killed by police countrywide for the entire year.  As a contrast, in the U.S. in 2011, 84 shots were fired by police at a single murder suspect in Harlem.  90 rounds were […]

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Ideologically Speaking

We all like to be right.  In my experience, being wrong has never had a big upside.   It’s usually followed by taking the blame for everything from embarrassments to car wrecks, and is why we constantly try to convince people the truth is on our side.  The F was the teacher’s fault. The ways we […]

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The Things We Imagine

Two chimpanzees mauled an American graduate student in South Africa last month.  He was leading a tour of a jungle refuge filled with our closest animal relatives.  Tragically, he stepped inside a restricted zone, violated chimpanzee territory, and they defended themselves.  The young man is missing fingers and toes, one testicle, hunks of arm flesh, […]

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Highway Anthropology

I have just returned from a 3,000 mile trip to catch fish.  I drove 1100 miles to a friend’s house, from where I rode another 650 miles to an outfitter and back, and then another 1400 miles as I visited more friends on the way home.  At such distances, a couple hundred miles no longer […]

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