Publications
The Amish Atheist Print E-mail
Criticism

kenneth copp amish atheist(The Truth Seeker October 1, 2021)

In the long history of free thought and the millions who’ve come into the light of reason, there are a few examples of men and women who have retained the best parts of their religious past and their secular present. One such is Kenneth Copp, the “star” of the new film short, Amish Atheist, an affecting portrait of a cultural Christian reborn in a freethinker’s body. Copp, a Maine woodworker, was raised in a Pentecostal church; under his parents’ tutelage, he practiced the carnival sideshow of “speaking in tongues.”

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What's in His Wallet? An Addendum to the Texas Abortion Law Print E-mail
Articles

6c4d22f7c2a14f7c1a701e281e06dc54(First published in Times of San Diego September 9, 2021, later revised)

Everyone knows—or should know—how burdensome a pregnancy is on a woman. It’s especially hard now if you live in Texas where a fetal heartbeat detected at six weeks means by law the woman cannot terminate her pregnancy; she must carry it to term. The burden of having a child, whether planned for or forced, is made worse by the financial responsibility of raising that offspring, for parents and families, through childhood and adolescence, the next eighteen years. Would any man argue that such a load, for poor women in particular, is among the toughest things she’ll ever face?

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Unchurched Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210901(San Diego Reader September 1, 2021)

In 2011, Colby Martin, an assistant pastor in a Gilbert, Arizona, evangelical church near Phoenix, was summoned one day to a board meeting of the elders. The concern was a Facebook post Martin shared about President Obama lifting the ban on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military regulation by which an LGBTQ person keeps that fact private. To the post, Martin appended six words: “I’m glad this day finally came.” Martin, who is 39 and met me for breakfast in Del Cerro, possesses a confessional well-being, equal parts vexed and resolute. Rigorously thoughtful, he took his time with my questions, waiting a bagel slathered with cream cheese. For those six words, a storm blew in. Further comments on Facebook hatched his superiors’ suspicions, and he was called on the carpet.

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The Multimedia Art of Chauvet Cave Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

chauvetpan(3QuarksDaily July 12, 2021)

In 1994, Chauvet cave was discovered near the township of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France. The cave is a spectacular venue for the earliest known rock art made by our ancestors and in no way “primitive.” Deep inside the limestone cavern are hundreds of highly animated wall paintings of bison, bear, ibex, lion, rhinoceros, hyena, wooly mammoth, and horse, “signed” by the red-ochre handprints of the artists.

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Certainty Makes You Stupid Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210630(San Diego Reader June 30, 2021)

Sign of the Times: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo M. Cipolla, written and published privately in 1976 and reissued in April, is a sudden bestseller. Hardly unexpected, given the idiocy these days. If you’ve read this tiny masterpiece, you have a framework for labeling stupidity a syndrome, one with symptoms that are clearly expressed in both individuals and groups. Indeed, the condition may be worth an entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry’s etiological bible. As one reviewer has written, “Idiots suffer from a disease that has no cure.” But a cure aside, classifying a disease should lead to treatment. Some researchers see parallels between medicalizing things like racism and mass shootings as public health crises and — wish upon a star — the remediable disorder of stupidity.

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On Cezanne's "The Card Players" Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Cezanne The Card Players Barnes(3QuarksDaily June 14, 2021)

Not long ago, in Philadelphia’s Barnes’ Foundation, I stood close enough to touch Paul Cezanne’s monumental, “The Card Players.” I was mesmerized how paint, texture, composition, and pose achieve an almost granitic-like intensity—three burly men around a table, cards in hands, another man holding a pipe and looking on, and a fifth, a feminine boy, his eyes downcast, echoing and softening the self-absorption of the men before him. The standing man and boy are witnessing the huddle of the three; the two standing invite us to witness the subject and its witnesses, a triangulation of viewer, inner viewers, and inner seen. A painting with its audience internally present and, thus, externally implied.

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Fraudsters Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210506(San Diego Reader May 6, 2021)

White-collar criminals come in all sizes and styles but they share an overarching motive: to steal money. Anyone’s stash will do. According to the FBI, they are experts at “deceit, concealment, [and] violation of trust.” Of the lot, the most complex to prosecute and the likeliest to weasel a light or “deferred” sentence are the fraudsters whose open secret is to appear legitimate, the neighborly crook, the good egg from church. Money launderers, work-site embezzlers, pyramid scammers, phony security traders—nice folk like Gina Champion-Cain. The latest basket term for crimes perpetrated on the near and maybe dear is “affinity fraud,” tricking those the swindler knows, often intimately.

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