I’ve made a big decision this past week . I will no longer be covering the news of “Religion and Politics” for Examiner.com. I will however continue to post strategic essays as they relate to religion and politics for Examiner but on a far less frequent basis.
My concentration this year has been on completing my MFA and finishing my novel, Living in Harmony, so that it can (hopefully) be sold for publication. Getting the novel and my thesis 100% complete by July is a huge task. Knowing that beyond July my goals will be to work on getting LIH published and in working on another fiction novel project means that my interests in covering religion and political news has waned.
My first article with Examiner appeared just over a year ago in March 2010. Since that time, I have posted over 100 articles with Examiner. The popularity of my local articles led to my national column which led to some of my articles being posted on Associated Content and appearing on various other online news sites.
This year, my articles have come out much slower due to my time restrictions and increasing interests in other works (fiction). So moving forward, I will only be posting essay-style commentaries with Examiner.com as “evergreen content” (content that is not news focused but content driven) and only plan on maybe 10-12 articles a year with them at this current time. These essays will primarily be focused on religion and not so much on politics.
The good thing about Examiner.com is that the over 100 articles I have written will remain in their archives and available for the foreseeable future. So you will continue to have access to my past year’s work with Examiner.com as well as any new content I post there. Click here for my Examiner.com archives.
I have enjoyed writing newsworthy articles and have enjoyed the exposure it gave me (including my radio appearance). I especially enjoyed pushing buttons and debating issues with those who opposed my view-point in the comment sections of several articles. That was probably the best part of it.
Thanks to all of you who have read loyally and hopefully you will continue to enjoy the essays as they come out on Examiner.com. Look for more information on Living in Harmony later this summer and fall.
Immigration remains a hot topic today. It is one of my favorite subjects to tackle and my Examiner.com series this week really encompasses all my favorites. This one tends to draw the most criticism (nationally and even within my family). The issue of those that immigrated here legally versus those who come illegally seems to be the tipping point for most critics of my position on immigration. I think this article addresses the points of that very well here.
The point of the article isn’t to argue what the reform should be or who should be here or not. It is more about showing tolerance for those who come here seeking a better life and suffer discrimination similar to the discrimination your ancestors likely endured as well.
Click here to read \”Immigration Tolerance: Reach Out of Your Darkness (Part 3)\”
In the article, I also attached this video from School House Rock of the 1970s. I think it best simplifies the immigration culture of America’s history (although it leaves out slavery entirely). It was also my first introduction to the importance immigrants played in our nation’s growth that included my ancestors as well.
I was first baptized into the Catholic faith as an infant but later my parents converted to a protestant belief system as I was growing up. One thing that has stayed with me as an adult is the fact that so much of what the church we attended believed in was about the church leaders’ personal interpretations of scriptures. In the church we attended, the use of instrumental music was strictly restricted. A Capella was said to be God’s preferred method of worship. This belief was linked to a specific scripture (one I do not recall) that obviously ignored the countless times in the Bible where musical instruments were used in worship to the Lord.
In addition to what this church believed, it also professed to know what other faiths believed. As an adult, most of what I was told about other faiths and beliefs has turned out not to be true. For this reason, I have always been skeptical of one faith professing to know what the intent and beliefs of another religion is. In particular, I have written several cautionary articles about Christian condemnation of Muslims. While I do not claim to understand the Muslim faith completely, I am always concerned when others villianize Muslims based on what they have heard from non-Muslims. None of us knows the depth of God’s divine grace and justification. Who is to say the Muslim, Mormon or Jew aren’t entitled to the same heaven Christians believe in? Only God makes that determination.
In part 2 on my Examiner.com series of “Reach Out of Your Darkness”, I encourage every believer to practice the very Christian value of love toward others no matter what their beliefs are. No matter who we are – God loves everyone. Click the link below to read my article on the subject. The article also has a link to a survey where you answer a series of questions that determinewhat Christian denomination you are most aligned with. You may be surprises at your results.
Click here to read \”No Divine Denomination: Reach Out of Your Darkness (Part 2)
With this week being the start of the Holy Week of Easter, I am relaunching a popular article series that ran locally on Examiner.com last year. This year the series is entitled “Reach Out of Your Darkness” and is about appreciating differences. The series first ran this time last year as “No Matter Our Differences: God Loves Us All” and was hugely popular.
This year, I am using the old Friend & Lover song, “Reach Out of the Darkness” as my inspiration. It’s a great song about peace and learning to appreciate our differences. So much of what we focus on these days is what divides us (our religious differences, our political differences, our sexual orientation, our citizenship status, etc…). What the bible reminds us time and time again is that we are all God’s creation. All created for good. This needs to be our theme for this Easter season.
Who did Christ die for this Easter season? A select group? He died for the salvation of everyone. In the spirit of this, I launch this series this week.
Click here to read \”Reach Out of the Darkness: God Loves Everyone!\”
Fox recently reran Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” episode and I received some new comments and e-mails about my article that came out on Examiner.com when the show originally aired. Click here to read the article.
I am not a fan of “Glee” and certainly think the show is overtly sexualized. Yet, the some have called my praise for the episode misguided. One comment on the article pointed to the fact that the episode makes fun of religion and portrayed religion in a negative light. I didn’t see it that way and responded to the comment. I am posting my response here because what I wrote pretty much sums up what the show was attempting and what I attempt with my Examiner column. Here’s my response:
I think you are too focused on what they didn’t say and less on what they did. This episode basically said that a non-belief in God comes from having been hurt by religion/God and that can be overcome. I also think you missed that they sang “What if God Was One of Us” at the end so God was definitely mentioned. I think that song summed up the intent of the episode that we need to live as if God was one of us.
The fact that people (not just characters on the show) think God and the “moral authority of the universe are bigoted homophobic idiots” is a sad commentary on what you and I are doing to bring those people into belief. Dennis, you are a sinner just like I am…just like the homosexual kid watching the show who feels shunned by religion. Are our sins less then his? Shouldn’t there be a place for him in God’s house every week? If we make room for the adulterous man, the divorced woman, the cheerful alcoholic, the married pedophile, the chronic tax cheater, the girl who aborted her baby and even a murderer every week – shouldn’t religion accept everyone? The fact that gays and others (who feel shamed by their choices in life) are kept away from the church is a saddest part of religion. Add in the fact that we don’t willingly accept believers of other faiths into ours as the greatest cause of war and misery in the world and that is what is wrong with religion today.
While you point out that a kid praying to a sandwich is a slap against belief in general, what about the fact that the two who don’t believe in God were shown what believing can do. Isn’t there hope in that? I think that was the point of the show and my article.
If you read my article, I did criticize the show for its sexual overtones. The show is in no way a religious show (just ask all the pre-teen kids who make up the largest demographic for the show…better yet ask their parents who allow them to watch it).
I simply choose to be more open-minded than others. Sometimes you need to look at the good that can come from a non-religious specific morality tale and see that there is some good there to be gained. Sure it’s not perfect but neither are we. I think (as a religious observer) more was achieved in the episode than wasn’t for believing in religion. Sorry you missed that.
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you’re doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.” George Lucas
It’s been one of those weeks…I mean months. You ever feel like no matter which way you turn something is standing there ready to clobber you “Fight Club” style? It’s been one of those months for me.
It’s been two months since I posted an article for my local Examiner column and a month since my last national article. What’s the reason? I’ve been working on my edits for my novel-in-progress and finishing up work on my MFA but more than that I’ve felt like I have been out of juice when it comes to the religion & politics column. I haven’t had enough love to throw myself over the hurdles or crumble the brick walls. It’s a temporary thing and my goal is to be back at it before April rolls around. I’m putting ideas and plans together for the articles I will write when the mood strikes. My category manager wants me to focus on doing more “evergreen” content (content that is always fresh for those searching that topic) and I think that will be a good place to pick it back up. I have a bunch of ideas but until I feel the need, I’m happily letting time pass. Whether that is good or bad for the column, we’ll find out.
In the meantime, it’s been fun focusing more on pop culture stuff here on the blog. While I don’t get paid to post here, I have enjoyed watching the blog readership grow tremendously over the past months. The growth rate has been 218% since November. I’ve loved the posts I written and evidentially many of you have been drawn to them as well. It’s nice to know that when you are doing something you love that others find it amusing too. Thanks for reading.
Please feel free to post your suggestions, comments, or ideas here for what you’d like to see more of. I’d love to hear from.