Merging Churches Are “Better Together”

When pastor Eric Sandras asked to rent space in a nearby church, they gave him the whole building! In this article from the Colorado Springs Gazette, see how three Colorado churches did what thousands do every year: merge for greater effectiveness.ChurchMerge (Photo by Tracy Aung.)

Posted in Articles, Blog

How “Heaven Is for Real” Came to Be

Heaven Is for Real

It’s been over a decade since Colton Burpo told his parents he had visited heaven during surgery. And on Wednesday, the movie version of “Heaven Is for Real” opens nationwide.

If you want to know how we got from one child’s experience to a major motion picture (thanks to agent Joel Kneedler), check out my article in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Posted in Articles

Christians and Marijuana?

GAZ-leaf-crossAmerican are experiencing a major shift in their attitudes toward marijuana (see recent surveys from CNN and Gallup).

But what do American Christians think? I had the opportunity to explore this question in three recent articles:

“Pot Pilgrims” tells the stories of Christian families relocating to Colorado Springs to treat their children with Charlotte’s Web marijuana oil.

“Marijuana Ministry” offers the first-ever look at the Stanley brothers’ faith and the Christian commitment that is the foundation for their work with Charlotte’s Web.

(Thanks to On Faith and editor Patton Dodd for assigning me these two long-form articles on this historic topic.)

“Moraljuana” is a slimmed down version of these articles published Sunday in the Colorado Springs Gazette. (It’s their cross/leaf illustration used above in this post.)


Posted in Articles, Blog

Super Book for Super Bowl Fans: “All-Pro Wisdom”

I’m back after an extended absence with some exciting news that actually helps explain that absence.

Super Bowl fever is spreading here in Colorado, but even if you don’t like the Broncos or Seahawks, you will love the new book I wrote with NFL All-Pro center Matt Birk and business/leadership guru Rich Chapman: All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead to Greatness.

Birk_Allprowisdom book coverMatt is scheduled to discuss the book on “Hannity” on Fox News this Thursday night Jan. 30.

In his 15 seasons in the NFL, Matt was a two-time All-Pro NFL center and was the NFL’s 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year. (He was also a member of the Baltimore Ravens team that beat the Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship game, but even that can be  forgiven.)

All-Pro Wisdom explores issues of character and commitment that lead to greatness in all areas of life, and features insights from other all-pro players, including the NFL’s 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year Jason Witten, Jerod Allen, Anquan Boldin, Adrian Peterson, Troy Polamalu and Aaron Rodgers.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote the foreword to the book, saying, “This is not a book about football. It is a book about choices.”

You can learn more about the book here and purchase the book here.

Posted in Blog, BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion)

John Denver and Windstar: the Death of a Dream

John Denver died 16 years ago this week when the small plane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He was 53. This year, a bit of Denver’s dream died with the sale of land that had housed his Windstar Foundation, which focused on the environment and other issues.


Aspen Times photographer Scott Condon took this photo of John Denver’s “Spirit” statue being removed from the property of the former Windstar Foundation.

Forty years ago, Denver had a huge hit with “Rocky Mountain High,” a song inspired by his love for Colorado (not drugs, as he testified before Congress). The song was named an official state song by the Colorado General Assembly in 2007, five years before voters here approved recreational marijuana.

Earlier this year, Denver’s music experienced a mini-renaissance thanks to The Music is You, a tribute album featuring Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, My Morning Jacket, and other artists.

The tribute album gave critics a new chance to assess Denver’s musical legacy, but meanwhile, Denver’s vision for Windstar has faded with the sale of nearly 1,000 acres of land near Aspen that he donated to the foundation.

Denver told me about his vision for Windstar in a 1991 interview for The Colorado Springs Gazette about his spiritual values, a subject says he had never explored in depth during thousands of previous media interviews:

 “I was somebody who felt alone and spent a lot of time alone. And one day I had a vision and saw that some day I was going to have a place in the mountains where people could come from all over the world. They would be friends of mine, and they would be able to come to this place, and meet other people like themselves, and rest and rejuvenate, and go back to whatever they were doing, knowing that they were not alone. That was pretty far out for a 12-year-old kid.”

The son of a Catholic mother and Protestant father, Denver was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s. He was attending Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Tucson, Arizona when he began doubting Christianity and experiencing visions about the universe and his future.

His spiritual journey would take him through Eastern religions, American Indian spirituality, humanism and est (Erhard Seminars Training). But his real religion was love of nature. In “Rocky Mountain High” he sang about the comfortable familiarity with God that nature-lovers enjoy: “You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply.”

In 1976, Denver and a partner founded Windstar on a 957-acre property near Snowmass. Now Windstar has sold the property and relocated what remains of Windstar to nearby Basalt. Locals worry that the property Windstar conserved for 37 years will be developed without respect for the area’s beauty.

Finally, in September, a statue of Denver entitled “Spirit” was moved from the former Windstar to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in Denver. Here, fans can appreciate Denver’s work. Meanwhile, back in the Aspen area, the worries about the Windstar land continue.

Posted in Articles

Following St. Francis

Just In time for Francis’s feast day this week, my story in The Gazette about local believers who try to incorporate aspects of the saint’s teaching into their lives.

And here’s a bonus: a portion of the story that was cut from The Gazette because of space limitations (which means the story I turned in was too long!):

“Peace, People and Planet”

Steve Saint was in high school when he encountered St. Francis in a movie theater. He had come to see “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but the second feature, “Brother Son, Sister Moon,” introduced him to Francis and led to his converting to Catholicism and devoting his life to following Francis’s model.

“I was raised Lutheran, and became an evangelical in high school,” said Saint. “And even though Protestants often consigned Catholics to hell, I could see clearly that Francis was a way more committed Christian than I was. He was a compelling figure who gave his entire life to Christ.”

In Derry Northern Ireland

For the last five years, Saint has served as Director of the Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission. The local organization serves “peace, people, and planet.”

“Francis taught that God speaks through all of creation,” he says. “People can either see creation as sacred, or we can trash everything God created, subjugating it, having dominion over it, chewing it up and throwing it away.”

Saint can clearly see the influence of St. Francis on pope Francis. “He has done things that would make St. Francis smile, like shunning the papal mansion and the Vatican’s trappings, by washing the feet of people in a drug rehabilitation center, and by the inviting way he cares about people.”


Tagged with:
Posted in Blog

Love for Sale: Revisited

When I started this blog I wrote about TV commercials: “Advertisers are using love to wrap us and their products in one big All-Consuming Embrace.”

Now, Cheerios has taken the love sell to a new low with its commercial featuring a mother, a child, Cheerios and a dead nana.

On his Sept. 17 show, Stephen Colbert weighed in, satirizing Cheerios for “leveraging the death of a grandmother” to sell cereal.

See Colbert’s hilarious segment here.

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

Burning Art: The Art of Burning Man

Some 60,000 people attending this fall’s Burning Man celebration of “radical self-expression and self-reliance” turned Nevada’s Black Rock Desert into a temporary art museum.

PBS’s News Hour featured a great segment on this year’s art, including the work of San Francisco area’s Flaming Lotus Girls.

You can see the video report here.

And you can see still photos here.

In 2008, I interviewed reporter/photographer about her book, Burning Book, and about the spiritual aspects of the annual Burning Man celebration:

Jessica Bruder is a reporter for the Portland Oregonian and the author of the 2007 collection, Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man.

“Spiritual isn’t a word I use a lot in my own life,” says Bruder, who was raised in a Jewish-Catholic family. “I spend most of my time in the secular world. But as I look at it, and think about the roots of what drives people to participate in Burning Man, I see that it’s a sense of community similar to what people find in religion.

“If they’re religious people, or if they hunger for something bigger than them, Burning Man is certainly bigger than they are, even though they create it themselves.”

Find out more about Jessica’s book here.

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media, Picture=1000

Available Now: What Would Jesus Ask?

This just in:

What Would Jesus Ask? 10 Questions That Will Transform Your Life, my new project with Jim Dixon, is now available.


If you’re in the Denver area, you can hear Dr. Dixon preach on selected chapters from the book on Sept. 22, Oct. 13, and other dates (check here for details).

You can read more about the book here.

Posted in Blog, BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion)

Colbert and the Cardinal (U.S. Catholics #1 and #2)

Timothy Cardinal Dolan kissed the hand of host Stephen Colbert on the Sept. 3 edition of “The Colbert Report.” Perhaps the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of New York agreed with Colbert’s comment:

You’re the second most famous Catholic in America, next to myself.

Other revelations during the interview segment with U.S. Catholics #1 and #2:

Colbert said that when Dolan was not elected Pope, as some had expected, he lost 50 bucks in a bet. Dolan affirmed that no Ouija board or chicken bones were used in the papal voting.

More important, Colbert isn’t sure about Mass attendance after Pope Francis reportedly said that “even atheists are redeemed by Christ.”

“He’s too soft on sin for me,” said Colbert, adding: “If even atheists are redeemed by Christ, why have I been going to Mass on Sundays? I could have gotten another nine holes in.”

Posted in Blog, Quotable

TIME for Some Football?

Millions of folks are glad to watch football on TV once again. But how much playing time does the average NFL game include?

The Wall Street Journal used stopwatches and calculators to determine that there are about 11 minutes of actual play per NFL game.

football clock

That’s less than the average baseball game, which includes almost 18 minutes of actual play.

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

Seamus Heaney’s Celtic Catholic Poetry (R.I.P.)

The world lost one of its greatest and most popular poets Saturday Aug. 31 when Seamus Heaney died in a Dublin hospital.


Born on a family farm named Mossbawn in County Derry Northern Ireland, Heaney often wrote about potatoes, peat and the power of rural tradition, as well as the Troubles that plagued his native land. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, his life and work were described in the Award Ceremony Speech:

Seamus Heaney comes from a humble, farming community, but at the same time we meet in him a learned poet who in the very microcosm of language cultivates and reveals the Celtic, pre-Christian and Catholic literary heritage.

His first collection of poems, published in 1966, included “Digging,” which paid homage to his rural roots:

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

Before describing his choice of a different calling:

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Ten more collections would follow, the last published in 2010.

His 1984 collection, Station Island, was inspired by Lough Derg, the penitential pilgrimage site that has attracted disciples for centuries:

Blurred swimmings as I faced the sun, my back
to the stone pillar and the iron cross,
ready to say the dream words I renounce

See his obituary here.

Posted in Blog, Quotable, Writing Life

Plastic Jesus Attacks Again!

No, we’re not talking about the popular song recorded in 1962:

Well, I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far.

We’re talking about a modern-day anti- consumerist prankster who goes by the name Plastic Jesus.

His latest attack involved sneaking a Useless Plastic Box into a Best Buy store and posting this photo.
We will be looking to see what Plastic Jesus does in the lead up to Christmas!

Posted in Blog, Man&Machine, Mixed Media, Picture=1000

Colbert Turns the Other Cheek

It was another Colbert Report classic, combining spoofs of pop culture, the broadcast media, and religion.

The occasion was Flo Rida’s performance of “Can’t Believe It” on NBC’s Today show, complete with the line about the rapper’s love of shapely posteriors (or “bubble-yum bum”).

Following the performance, Flo Rida explained the gaudy piece of Jesus jewelry he wore during the performance.

“I put God first with everything I do,” said the rapper, soberly.

It was all too much for Colbert and his writers, who logically concluded that “Jesus was a bootie fan,” and also gave a new twist to a classic Christian commandment.

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

Real Persecution in Egypt

Christians in many areas of Egypt have been under attack since the army removed President Mohamed Morsi from office. The attacks have grown in number and severity since the army violently moved against large camps of protestors on Aug. 14.

“Egypt is in the midst of an anti-Christian progrom,” says National Review Editor Rich Lowry in a recent column.

Here are three ways to grasp the persecution:

1) A Human Rights Watch report says 42 churches have been attacked, along with many other institutions and schools, along with homes and businesses owned by Christians.

2) USA Today created a map showing the locations of major attacks.

3) Today, The Wall Street Journal focused on the destruction of one treasured Coptic Christian monument, the Virgin Mary Church, a historically significant place of worship for 15 centuries.

Why are Christians being attacked? For one thing, they are a convenient scapegoat for Muslim Brotherhood supporters upset over Morsi’s ouster.

Another reason is that many Egyptian Christians supported the army’s coup. The photo above shows Coptic Pope Tawadros II (seated third from right) lending his official support at the July 3 press conference where Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced the army’s takeover.

One often hears many North American Christians claim they face persecution. For example, in 2010, bestselling author and former megachurch pastor Jack Hayford offered these dire opinions in a Charisma magazine feature on: “What will life be like for the church in 2020?”

“The next 10 years will bring increasing persecution upon believers. The spirit of anti-Christ is increasing its intensity. The heat will not only increase against institutional Christianity, but any believer who lives ‘out of the closet’ of silence or reserve.”

Hayford was speaking of persecution in “the Western world.” But British journalist Rupert Shortt offers a different perspective on real persecution in his recent book, Christianophobia (published by Eerdmans):

“About 200 million Christians are now under threat” around the world, “more than any other faith group,” writes Shortt in his guided tour of nearly 20 countries where believers are in danger. Shortt documents numerous recent cases in which believers have been burned alive, beheaded, crucified, tortured, had their tongues cut out, been forced to emigrate, and witnessed their churches bombed and their homes burned to the ground.

This is “persecution as I understand it,” he writes. “None of the opinions, insults, or laws judged offensive by many Western Christians amounts to persecution.”

May God help Egypt, where real persecution is breaking out, not the kinds of issues and inconveniences often confused with persecution in the Christian West.


Posted in Blog

The Butler’s Faith

The movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” tells the story of Eugene Allen, who faithfully served eight presidents while working as a White House butler. The film includes religious elements, as Director Lee Daniels explained to Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service:

You can’t tell a story about the civil rights movement without the gospel and gospel music. You just simply can’t. It’s impossible.

butler moviejpg

Banks’ story goes deeper into Eugene Allen’s faith, including his six decades as a member of Washington’s Greater First Baptist Church, where he served as an usher and trustee.

Forest Whitaker plays Allen and Oprah Winfrey plays his wife Gloria in the film, which opens Friday Aug. 16.

For even more, read The Butler by Wil Haygood, the writer who tracked down Allen for The Washington Post and wrote the book that inspired the movie (and the cover photo above).

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

Yod Lives!

Was he a holy man or con man? A benevolent father figure or a dirty old man? Decide for yourself after watching The Source Family, a documentary film about the former Marine named Jim Baker who transformed himself into Father Yod and led a utopian commune of wide-eyed young followers who were devoted to healthy food, the Sacred Herb, and sex.
“I’m the father you all wanted,” said Father Yod. His devoted followers seemed to agree, most sticking with him even after he determined he should have 13 wives.

“They transformed sex, drugs and rock and roll into a genuine religious formation,” says a scholar quoted in the documentary.
Thanks to an abundance of photos, film, and music (provided by the commune’s band, YoHoWha 13, which recorded numerous albums), The Source Family transports you back in time to the early 70s.

The documentary also features more than a dozen former members of the group, which disbanded after Father Yod’s sudden death in 1975. Some, like Isis Aquarian, one of the 13 wives, remain as devoted as ever.

If you’re interested in cults, groupthink or the legacy of the 60s, see The Source Family.

Posted in Blog, Mixed Media, Past Is Present

Civil religion, “Sheilaism,” and Robert Bellah (R.I.P.)

Those of us who follow religion and culture lost a founding father last month. Robert Bellah, the Berkeley scholar, helped open the academy doors for the sociological study of religion.


He gave us the term “civil religion,” but was best known for his (and his co-authors’) 1985 book, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, which explored the ways that the American individualism that had been largely praised by de Tocqueville had, in more recent times, “grown cancerous.”

American cultural traditions define personality, achievement, and the purpose of human life in ways that leave the individual suspended in glorious, but terrifying, isolation.

Other Bellahisms:

For many, “freedom means being left alone,” or “freedom from the demands of others.”

“Sheilaism” is what we get when American-style individualism meets religion, as explained by Sheila Larson, one of the many Americans interviewed in habits:

My faith has carried me along way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.

When the kind of “expressive individualism” pioneered by Walt Whitman collided with the cultural revolution of the 1960s, the result was a new kind of mysticism that tends to “radicalize and absolutize” religious individualism.

Bellah’s prescription for recovery includes a return to tradition and community:

Perhaps common worship, in which we express our gratitude and wonder in the face of the mystery of being itself, is the most important thing of all.

Thank you, Robert Bellah.

See the New York Times obit here.

Posted in Blog, Past Is Present, Quotable

Mindy Kaling: Kindness Rules

Funny but not mean. Honest but not vicious. That’s Mindy Kaling’s goal in her popular TV show, “The Kaling Project,” according to a recent profile in Entertainment Weekly.

“Mindy’s Rules for Writing,” a sidebar to the Aug. 9 cover story on Kaling and “The New Hollywood,” describes the ethos encoded in the “voice checklist” the show’s writers follow. Among the six rules:

1) Characters are helpful and kind.

2) No one is a moron.

4) Conflict should never come from a desire to be cruel or mean.


Posted in Blog, Quotable, Writing Life

Art as Argument: Leon Ferrari (R.I.P.)

La civilización occidental y cristiana (Western Civilization and Christianity)
by Leon Ferrari, 1965

Leon Ferrari, a controversial Latin American conceptual artist and activist, died July 25, 2013. His most famous work, which features Christ crucified on an American fighter plane, expressed his opposition to the Vietnam War, and more.

Like his other works, La civilización occidental y cristiana explored themes of religion, power and illegitimate authority, especially the oversized global influence of both the United States and the Roman Catholic Church. When the work was exhibited in Ferrari’s native Argentina in 1965, the Catholic Church had the exhibit closed down. He faced a similar fate in 2004, when the Archbishop of Buenos Aires helped close down a show featuring more Christian imagery. (That Archbishop is today’s Pope Francis.)

See Ferrari’s obituary from The New York Times.

Posted in Blog, Picture=1000

Are We Searching or Being Searched?

“By the time you search, something’s already failed.”
– Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, quoted in New York Times story about a new generation of “Predictive Search” apps that anticipate what you need to know before you search for it and that are raising questions about privacy and other concerns.

Posted in Blog, Man&Machine, Quotable

Those Quotable, Quixotic Jesus People

Religion historian Larry Eskridge’s excellent new book, God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Oxford) is the definitive look at “the Jesus Revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, “a remarkable upsurge in traditional, evangelical Christianity with a hippie twist” that “is one of the most significant American religious phenomena of the postwar period.”

Eskridge, who has been working on this project for ages, has a great ear for killer quotes, as this selection of ten comments indicates.
“If you’re God, I am truly disappointed.”
– Ted Wise, Haight Ashbury’s “Evangelist to hippies,” responding to Charles Manson’s claim of divinity

“No ‘thou shall nots’ about that.”
– Ted Wise, explaining why he and other early Jesus People continued smoking pot

“I saw them as parasites upon society.”
– Pastor Chuck Smith on the hippies who were attending Costa Mesa’s Calvary Chapel in increasing numbers

“No Bare Feet Allowed in the Church.”
– Sign posted by disgruntled members of Calvary Chapel members. (Smith had the sign removed.)

“We do not believe…that a shave and a haircut make you a Christian any more than long hair and sandals….We are not rehabilitating people to melt back into society as good, clean-shaven and well-spruced American citizens.”
– Letter from leader David Hoyt to supporters of Atlanta’s house of Judah community

“These girls are somewhat afraid of men, but they are very precious people and God loves them so much.”
– Kent Philpott on the members of a lesbian commune he befriended

“A collar or a business suit wouldn’t get you anywhere. The first time I walked into a trip room I wore a tie and a suit. The heads panicked. They thought I was a narc agent out to bust them. After that I switched to turtle necks and psychedelically-patterned slacks or bell bottoms and sandals. Then came the beads.”
– Arthur Blessitt, founder of Hollywood’s His Place, on the evolution of his wardrobe

“Jesus Loves Viet Cong & G.I.’s, Parents & Cops, Rednecks & Freaks and YOU!”
– Hand-painted sign in House of Judah’s front yard

– Name that Akron’s Craig Yoe gave to his dog, enabling him to yell the word at the top of his lungs in the city’s parks

“They are great kids. I haven’t been called a pig once.”
– Policeman working EXPLO ’72 in Dallas

Posted in Past Is Present

E-book explores insights of the dying

Today, Lois and I are celebrating the release of our first e-book: Lessons for the Living from the Dying. We talked to a number of hospice workers to see what they learned about life from the dying people they serve. Here’s the official info:

Someday. That’s when many of us plan to finally start those long-delayed travel, reading, fitness and personal projects. But for those whose days are truly numbered, “someday” may never come.

Those who are dying have a hard-won clarity about life’s limits. Fortunately for us, they often share their wisdom, advice and regrets about life with hospice workers, those skilled companions who devote countless hours to serving people who are in their final days. In this inspiring and gripping book, we are invited to embrace end-of-life lessons so that we can start living better lives–not just someday, but today.

If you participate in a death cafe, or simply interested in living well and ending well, you should find something helpful. Available from Bondfire Books through Amazon.

Posted in Blog, BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion)

Know Your “Nones”

Why No Affiliation Is Fastest Growing Religious Affiliation

You knew Colorado Springs is home to dozens of big evangelical organizations, but did you know it is also home to big-league atheists Becky Hale (president of the American Humanist Association) and Gary Betchan (who runs the secular emporium,, out of a storefront located next door to a church)?

The two say they never would have met if it weren’t for conservative “religious crazies” seeking to impose their values on the city.

You can read the Gazette story about their journeys and their work here:

Know Your “Nones”

I also wrote a stat-filled sidebar, connecting Becky & Gary’s story with national polling data from Pew and Gallup.

This data suggests that nones outnumber true believers in Colorado Springs. The sidebar was not published with the article, but you can read it.

Know Your Nones stats (.docx)


Posted in Blog

Love for Sale?

Have you noticed? Advertisers are using longing, love and Al Green to sell us more stuff.

Advertisers are using love to wrap us and their products in one big All-Consuming Embrace. Take another look at these 7 commercials:

1) Subaru makes some good cars, but this commercial seem to suggest we should love our automobiles like we do our partners, kids, and dogs.

2) Did you know pizza functions as sacrament at family love feasts? “When you get together around a Papa Murphy’s pizza,” says the spot, you can experience “Love at 425 degrees.”

3) Johnson & Johnson’s new branding campaign, “For All You Love,” features evocative images of parents and kids. Cute, but the New York Times suggests J&J may be trying to powder over the $68 billion corporation’s recent problems with massive product recalls and consumer lawsuits.

4) “Love” fills the final screen of a recent spot for heart-healthy Cheerios. But apparently, not everyone was feeling the love. The commercial’s multiracial family (the cute kid has a white mother and black father) has generated online racist comments.

5) Love your dog? “Keep love strong” with Iams dogfood. Installments in the “Keep love strong” campaign tug at your heart by featuring a woman returning to her beloved pet following a military deployment or a girl putting lipstick on her dog.


6) Starbucks claims its rewards program is OUR WAY OF LOVING YOU BACK in print ads that invite readers to “see how rewarding a friendship can be.”

7) “I’m so in love with you” croons Al Green, in his 1971 #1 hit, “Let’s Stay Together,” which was used in this commercial featuring  Meanwhile, an alluring woman enjoys an intimate moment with some Lay’s potato chips. “One taste and you’re in love,” says the voice-over.

Vance Packard’s 1957 book, The Hidden Persuaders, explained why “professional persuaders” (guys like “Mad Men’s” Don Draper) used insights from psychiatry and social science to create commercial imagery that bypassed our brains and went straight for our gooey core:

…they see us as bundles of daydreams, misty hidden yearnings, guilt complexes, irrational emotional blockages. We are image lovers given to impulsive and compulsive acts.

More than half a century later, some still create commercial come-ons that exploit the deepest affections of the human heart. But in the last line of his song, told us how to handle people who mess with our emotions:

  And if you do me wrong, I just might leave you alone.


Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

Welcome to My Brand New Blog

Greetings, and welcome to my new blog!

With some 200 million blogs readily available, you may not feel the need for more content, but I hope to offer a different take on the fascinating ways that people’s experiences of religion, spirituality and culture intersect (or collide). These intersections have been the prism for much of my writing, reading and observing this world of wonders.

It’s an “occasional” blog because there are word-drenched days when my cranking out a post wouldn’t be in your interests, or mine. I’m also setting aside times for obeying a much-needed 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not touch any digital devices today!”

I (along with guests, including my wife Lois) plan to post things Only When Moved, which we hope will happen twice a week!

Here’s what’s moving us today: concern for the thousands of people (including friends) here in Colorado and the West who have lost their homes in devastating wildfires over the last two long, hot summers (and the 19 firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona).

C-Fire-2013If you want to help those impacted by this year’s Black Forest Fire and last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire, consider:

Giving to The Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s emergency relief fund;

Or purchasing a Wild Fire Tee (proceeds help The Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s emergency relief fund).

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Posted in Blog

Beatles to Bhagavad Gita

Photo of Ravi ShankarHow George Harrison Brought the East to the West

“My Sweet Lord,” a global hit featuring chants of “Hallelujah” and “Hare Krishna,” was the first solo single by George Harrison, the former lead guitarist of the world’s biggest rock band. His decades-long spiritual quest (starting with Eastern music before progressing to Hinduism and Krishna Consciousness) changed the ways people in the West looks at God, gurus and life, and made him the most influential religious rocker of the last half century.

Posted in Articles

Evaluating Evangelism

Religion Becomes Battleground at U.S. Air Force Academy 

An angry debate over the role of faith and evangelism at the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs creates controversy and leads to a Pentagon review.

The ongoing USAFA religion controversy and a lawsuit about proselytizng at the Academy led to new Air Force regulations governing how to handle (and not handle) religion.

Posted in Articles

“Twilight’s” Family Values

twilightStephenie Meyer Mixes Mormonism, Morality and Vampires

Stories about love, lust and the undead may not seem like the best vehicle for teaching teenagers about faith and morality. But Mormon author Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novels use vampire legends to offer LDS-friendly instruction on sexuality, dietary restrictions and more.

Posted in Articles

God and Douglas Coupland

Author of Life After God Is “the Most Uncynical Person on Earth”

People assume the man who wrote 1991’s Generation X and 1994’s Life After God is a cynic. But the author who skillfully skewers his generation’s skepticism is himself a convinced anti-skeptic. “I am the most uncynical person on Earth,” said Coupland between bites of spaghetti in Denver before a reading at the Tattered Cover. “I have so been looking forward to this interview so I can discuss real things.” Things like his faith in God. “But I’m really mad at him right now,” he admits.

Posted in Articles
A to Z

Steve's articles have appeared in these publications and outlets:

Akron Beacon Journal
Albany (NY) Times Union
The American Spectator
Ann Arbor News
Arizona Republic
Atlanta Journal/Constitution
Associated Press
Birmingham (AL) News
Bookstore Journal
Boulder Camera
Catholic Digest
CCM Update
Charlotte Observer
Christian Examiner
Christian Herald
Christian History
Christian Management Report
Christian Post
Christian Reader
Christian Research Journal
Christian Retailing
Christian Single (Southern Baptist Convention)
Christianity Today (since 1982, EPA Award)
Church Bookstore
Columbus Citizen-Journal (Sunday magazine features)
Columbus Dispatch
Compassion Update (Compassion International, editor)
Cincinnati Enquirer (Sunday magazine features)
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Current Thoughts & Trends
Daily Guardian, Wright State University, Dayton, OH (editor)
Dallas Morning News
Dayton (Ohio city magazine)
Dayton Business Journal (editor)
Dayton Daily News and Journal-Herald (news, features, stringer)
Devo'Zine (United Methodist)
The Disciple (Disciples of Christ)
Discipleship Journal
East Asia’s Millions (Overseas Missionary Fellowship)
English Journal (National Council of Teachers of English)
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Freedom Wire
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO: Religion Editor, news, features)
Grand Rapids (MI) Press
Herald of Holiness (Nazarene)
HIS (InterVarsity)
Home Life (Southern Baptist Convention)
Houston Chronicle
Huntsville (AL) Times
Indianapolis Star
Kansas City Star
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service
Leadership Journal
Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader
Life@Work (EPA Award)
The Living Church (Anglican)
Los Angeles Times
The Lutheran (ELCA)
The Lutheran Witness (Missouri Synod)
The Magazine for Christian Youth! (United Methodist)
Media Update
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Missions Today
Mobile (AL) Register
National and International Religion Report
New Age
New Orleans Times-Picayune
New Sound
New York Times (Religion Journal, news, stringer)
New York Times Syndication Sales Corp.
Newark Star-Ledger
Omaha World-Herald
Orange County Register
Parents of Teenagers
Pastor's Family
Policy Review (Heritage Foundation)
Publishers Weekly
Pueblo Chieftain
Pulpit Helps
PW Religion Bookline
Re:generation Quarterly
Religion News Service (news and features)
Religious Broadcasting
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Saint Paul Pioneer Press
San Diego Union-Tribune
Shepherdess International (Seventh-day Adventist)
Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard
Tallahassee Democrat
Today’s Pentecostal Evangel (Assemblies of God)
Twin Circle Catholic Weekly
Vue (Wesleyan)
Washington Post
The Wittenburg Door
World Pulse
Worship Leader
Young Salvationist (Salvation Army)
Youthworker Journal (writer, columnist, editor)
Youthworker Update


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