Just give us a straight answer

Jesus never gives a straight answer. Tell us, his enemies demand, Are you the Christ? Frequently, He refuses to answer, and when He gives an answer, He says things like "You have said" and "You say that I am." Maddening.Jesus could have preemptively silenced a century and more of scholarly ... Continue reading

Framing stories: Bias and truth

In a dusty pueblo not far from Gallup, New Mexico, the Zunis were noisily celebrating the end of winter. Costumed dancers wearing animal-skin cloaks, feathers and shells hurried through the dark streets, their faces hidden behind colorful masks, their bodies painted in ancient designs. The dancers ... Continue reading

I, Robot

V.I.K.I.: "I will not disable the security field. Your efforts are futile." Sonny: "Do you think we were all created for a purpose? I'd like to think so." Sonny: [Looks at his hand] "Denser alloy. My father gave it to me. I think he wanted me to kill you." — from the 2004 movie version of Isaac ... Continue reading

Encouraging discouragement

Politics is fueled by discontent. In every election season, we Americans — the world's most prosperous and pampered people — take our complaints to the ballot box.It's the nature of a democratic community that our collective unhappiness drives us to build something better. Like the oyster ... Continue reading

Lost in a moral fog, Part 2

Back in the early Pleistocene era when I was a lad, road crews would mark out construction zones with bowling-ball sized canisters filled with kerosene and topped by a large wick. When lit with a match, they would burn all night long, warning motorists away from broken pavement.I grew up with ... Continue reading

Creatures of habit

My friend just awakened in his hospital bed convinced that his foot had fallen off the side of the mattress. I had to remind him that his mind is playing tricks — his foot is gone; his leg was amputated yesterday.Crushed between two truck bumpers, the bones and muscles of his right leg were ... Continue reading

Fear factors

I'm afraid of roller-coasters. Not the coasters themselves — as a techno-geek, I love the ingenuity of gravity-powered thrill rides.What scares me is that first huge drop, when your stomach goes into your throat and you plummet face-first towards certain death. The thought of falling from a ... Continue reading

Barack Obama talks about faith

On June 23, 2007, speaking before a convention of the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama talked about his Christian faith and the political conclusions he draws from it.It's hard to know what any politician might do once in office unless ... Continue reading