Category: Religion

The Morality of Greed

Anyone who enjoyed a high school or college infatuation with the ideas contained in the popular novels of Ayn Rand knows that characters like John Galt and Howard Roark represent all that is good about capitalism. Their intelligence, determination, and ethics made them heroes — heroes of acquisitiveness passed off as heroes of innovation and...

Joy and Its Absence

On a hot Saturday night in the provinces, two handsome young lovers made their nuptial vows at a Christian church in front of family and friends, as is the custom. But at this wedding, unlike every other I’ve attended, the preacher harangued and scolded and pretended to cry, careful, it seemed, to inject the proceedings...

Labis: “Too Much”

If there were an easy answer to endemic poverty, the kindest among us would surely have already implented it. There’s no simple solution. But one thing is obvious — at least to an outsider: desperately poor people must stop having desperately poor children, most of whom cannot be fed, educated, and cared for properly.  The...

Getting it Wrong on Prop 8

This weekend, a number of dear friends, some straight, some gay, will be picketing in front of Los Angeles City Hall, venting their anger at an empty building. The protesters are furious about the passage of Proposition 8, which amends the California Constitution to permit holy matrimony solely between a man and a woman. Prop...

He Doesn’t Believe In What We Believe In

Among the usual detritus that makes its way into my inbox, an email I got recently made the come-ons for penny stocks, penis enlarging pills and Nigerian lottery windfalls seem downright benign.   I was forwarded a missive featuring an authentic photo of Barack Obama standing in front of an American flag with his hands...

A Christmas Wish

Once, long ago, in an arid place where life was hard, harder than in the yet undiscovered precincts of what we now call the Americas, a crazy Jew started a cult. Despite the objections of the local authorities, who, like most authorities, preferred the populace to be docile and compliant, the crazy Jew spoke passionately...

Newton’s Law

My Dad, who was notorious for repeating useful nostrums as though they were Gospel, had a limited but effective collection of epigrams he liked to trot out whenever his boys required illuminating instruction. Some of these Rules to Live By were gleaned from his formative years in the Marine Corp, where he learned essential truths,...

Cutting Scientology Some Slack

Not long ago I attended a concert at the Celebrity Center, on the campus of Scientology headquarters, in the heart of Hollywood. Independent producers like to rent out the theater there because in addition to a good sound and light system, the Celebrity Center offers below-market rental rates in exchange for subjecting the audience to...

The Power of Power

Of all the abstract notions that motivate human beings to behave as they do, power, it seems, is the most compelling. Truth and beauty, fame and wealth — they’re nice. But power (and the mad pursuit of it) makes people betray the basic tenets of decency that allegedly govern our interactions. Power is like a...

The Nicest Part of a Worship Service

I don’t attend church services regularly. All the salvation talk is a little much. But when I do, my favorite moment is when the leader asks the congregation to give salutations to those around them. Strangers introduce themselves. Old friends share a handshake. Couples embrace.  In those gentle moments, when the warnings and imperatives have...