News & Politics


The Power of "I Am..." One Year after Charlie Hedbo

A year ago, after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, one of the most prevalent responses was the declaration “Je suis Charlie”, I am Charlie. Soon after as the terrible assault unfolded, some added the phrase “Je suis Juif”, I am a Jew, to reflect the victims of the Kosher market taken over by the same attackers. That incident also led to “Je suis Ahmed,” a reference to the Muslim police officer who was slain while protecting Charlie Hebdo’s offices. Other versions of the ” I am” tag have become familiar elements of......

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It Takes a Village, and Other Things I Want to Believe

On September 13th, 2001 you checked out “It Takes a Village” from the public library in town. Not this one. This one. You probably had your toddler with you – maybe in your arms – as you walked along the shelves. Because who in their right mind could have let their kids out of sight in those days after the attacks? You had thousands of children’s books at your fingertips that day. You could have picked any one of them – about princesses, trucks, penguins, or anything in between – and yet......

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Talking About Donald Trump: Why We Should Channel George Orwell

Donald Trump makes me think of George Orwell, but perhaps not for the reason one might expect. My association is not with the totalitarian state described in Orwell’s book, 1984, and its dictator, Big Brother. Rather, it is with the author himself, and the value he attributed to words, their import and the responsibility human beings have when using them. George Orwell was first and foremost an opponent of using language in a sloppy or unthinking way. For Orwell, without clear and precise expression, there could be no clarity and precision in......

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Fear, ISIS and the American Way: A Refugee's Reflections on 35 Years in the United States

Fear is an odd thing. A fearful instinct telegraphs an imminent danger to you, allowing you to be alert and protective. Fear in the wake of national tragedy or an act of terrorism is a common response. What we do with such fear in the wake of ISIS attacks and threats will reflect the best or the worst of our humanity, values, and character. For many Americans it also a spiritual question about the soul of what makes us American. My life took an unexpected turn in 1980. I was hurriedly sent......

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It's Okay to Grieve for Paris

The day before the people of Paris suffered their deadliest assault since World War II, ISIS detonated two bombs in southern Beirut, killing 43 people and wounding hundreds. Some have taken to social media and combined the blue, white and red of the French flag with the cedar tree of Lebanon, or otherwise marked these tragedies together. Still, it’s an uncomfortable question why this attack did not spawn the universal calls for solidarity and recognition as the outpouring seen for those in France. There is something at stake in allowing ourselves to......

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The Starbucks Cup: It's About Conversation

To paraphrase a famous statement, nonsense is nonsense, but the reaction to nonsense is worth looking at. What was at the bottom of the Starbucks cup controversy for me is not what it said about Christians and Christianity, but what it means for those of us who strive to make meaningful connections between religious traditions, rather than reinforce barriers. At issue here is not watering down what is Christian to avoid offending someone who is not Christian. What is at issue is maintaining spaces that can be conducive to meeting on equal......

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Student Activism at Yale: Rethinking What Is Worthy of Our Outrage

Are you following the drama of the costume scandal transpiring at Yale University? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry but something is off on our campuses. Here is the story in a nutshell. Thirteen Yale administrators co-signed a pre-Halloween letter, advising students on how to dress for Halloween so as not to offend their fellow students. The committee’s email acknowledged that students “definitely have a right to express themselves,” but hoped they would “actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of......

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Stolen Wisdom, Shattered Trust

I was raised by two teachers. My parents taught me to respect and trust authority; to question with appreciation and understanding for those before whom I stood. They also taught me to be wary and discerning of people who might hurt or take advantage of me. Sadly, recent news reports have revealed chilling stories of clergy allegedly using their positions of power to sexually abuse members of their flock. Even as my parents cautioned me about the danger that might lurk in any human being, they stressed that in order to progress......

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Should a Public School Coach Be Praying With Players?

Which does the U.S. Constitution guarantee – freedom of religion, or freedom from it? The short answer (as with so many constitutional issues) is: It depends. Contextualism and the ongoing ability to interpret the document are two of its greatest strengths, helping assure its durability and relevance. There are settings where an enforced absence of public religious expression is required (bans on prayer in public school classrooms); other situations allow for religious expression, as long as all religious sensibilities are respected (wearing a cross, a yarmulke, a hijab or whatever religious symbols/clothing......

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