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The New Sexual
Ethic

Thou Shalt Have Great Sex

For most Americans, issues of sexual ethics and sexual morality have long been intertwined with the teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition. But today, growing numbers of people who call themselves “spiritual but not religious,” along with more liberal members of the nation’s churches and synagogues, are looking for a new sexual ethic—one that goes beyond the “thou shalt nots” of organized religion.

Many are searching for a more joyous, sex-positive theology. They are looking to see what their own sexual experiences tell them about spiritual truth—and to connect their spiritual and sexual selves.

This exploration raises as many questions as answers in an era of rapidly changing sexual mores. Today, once-closeted gay couples are living happily ever after in marriage; pornography formerly restricted by obscenity laws is available 24 hours a day for mass consumption online; teens flirt by “sexting”; and online dating sites facilitate everything from quickie hookups to clandestine extramarital activities (“Life is short, have an affair,” suggests Ashley Madison.com, a dating website specifically for married people). Without the sexual rules that once governed our relationships, how do we separate right from wrong? What makes sex “sacred”? What makes it “profane”?
Spirituality & Health
July-August 2013

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The Next Sexual
Revolution

SF minister spreads gospel
of sex in China

The Rev. Ted McIlvenna, whose pioneering work in the 1960s helped inspire the sexual revolution and the gay rights movement, has a new crusade.

Next month, the 80-year-old Methodist rebel will lead a delegation of 10 sex experts to China to help an emerging class of financially independent Chinese women achieve female sexual empowerment.

“The second sexual revolution is about female sexuality,” said McIlvenna, a San Francisco preacher who owns what may be the world's largest collection of sex books, erotic art and vintage pornography. “And the women of China are starting to say, ‘What about our sexuality?’ ”
San Francisco Chronicle
February 18, 2013

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From Agnostic
to Zoroastrian

A-Agnostic with Answers

B-Baptists v. Mormons in Salt Lake City

C-Carter - Interview with President Jimmy Carter

D-Death -- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Faces Her Own

E-Evangelist Billy Graham talks to Don Lattin

F-Francis of Assisi – In his home town

G-Gong – Falun Gong and China

H-Heaven’s Gate: The UFO Cult

I-Interview with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

J-Jerusalem at the New
Millennium

K-Kids in Cults

L-Lattin – Memories of Grandpa

M-Methodists Mix it Up

N-Nazareth on Christmas 1999

O-On the River Jordan

P-Pope John Paul II

Q-Questions about the Mormon’s Global Crusade

R-Rock n Roll for Jesus

S-Shameless Self-Promotion

T-Torah Rave

U-Unplugged

V-Very New Age

W-Women Transform American Church

X-X Generation Finds Jesus

Y-Your Tax Dollars and Charitable Choice

Z-Zoroastrian Christmas

Saying “Hello” in Cairo



All I was trying to do was greet Mahmoud, the front desk clerk at my small hotel in the Garden City district of Cairo

“Issallam ‘alaykum,’” I proudly proclaimed.
Momdouh return my morning greeting with a thin smile.
“We don't say that her,” he explained. ”This is a Christian hotel. We say ‘sabah il-khayr‘ or ‘good morning.’”

Travel Writing
December, 2008
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Old Hippies and the
New Mainstream

hippies

It could happen on Tuesday. Finally. The end of the '60s counterculture.

All of us aging hippies and unrepentant cannabis connoisseurs will be forced to face the fact that “we” are “them.” If Prop. 19 passes, and California legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, we must face the (rock) music and accept the fact that the counterculture is now the mainstream culture.
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, October 29, 2010
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Mohammed Comes to
Holy Hill




Berkeley is fast becoming an American mecca for Islamic studies - -

and a testing ground
to see if Jews, Muslims and other “passionate believers” can all get along.
California Magazine
January, 2009
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The Second Coming of Psychedelics
Psychedelics
Inside the mind-tripping, soul-changing, ground-shifting, 21st century therapy.

Ric Godfrey had the shakes. At night, his body temperature would drop and he’d start to tremble. During the day, he was jumpy. He was always looking around, always on edge. His vibe scared the people around him. He couldn’t hang on to a job.

He started drinking and drugging, anything to numb out.

Years passed before a Department of Veterans Affairs counselor told him he had severe posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The former Marine had spent the early 1990s interrogating prisoners in Kuwait. Years later, he was still playing out the Persian Gulf War.

Counseling helped a little, but the symptoms continued. He went to rehab for his substance abuse, then tried Alcoholics Anonymous. “That went on for 10 years,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I hit rock bottom.”
Spirituality & Health
January-February 2013

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To Forgive and
Forget

mom and meA son confronts his birth and his mother’s death.

Having a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be a painfully long and sad way to say good-bye. It also reaffirms the adage about laughing to keep from crying. After my mother’s memory became seriously impaired, my older sister and I never knew how much of Mom would be there when we visited her at the assisted living facility. She changed from moment to moment, which is how she lived the final months of her life, from moment to moment. Buddhists spend their whole lives trying to live in the moment. By that standard, Mom was enlightened.

Her existence in the moment also provided my sister and me with a running comedy routine, one that was both funny and tragic. One minute my mother would introduce me to the other ladies in the unit as “my son, Don.” Two minutes later, she’d turn to me and say, “Where did we meet?”

Where did we meet? Actually, it’s a good question.
California Magazine
Spring, 2013
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Mitt Romney and the Mormon Song and Dance

Election shows how far religion has come

The last thing we heard before the lights went down and “The Book of Mormon” began was the couple behind us saying, “They are only two electoral votes apart.”

“Who's winning?” the wife asked.
“Romney,” the husband sighed.
It was election night at the Pantages Theatre, and there were more than the usual number of smartphones glowing inside this old gem of a playhouse at the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

One of the first-act songs in this dazzlingly irreverent musical comedy (which previews Tuesday and opens an already sold-out monthlong run Wednesday at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco) is a lullaby promising that tomorrow will be “Latter Day.”

“Evening star shines brightly/ God makes life anew/ Tomorrow is a latter day/ I am here for you.”
San Francisco Chronicle
November 25, 2012
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Chasing the Divine

Huston Smith and the seekers of Trabuco Canyon

Huston Smith was at Berkeley working on his Ph.D. in 1945 when he stumbled upon the work of Gerald Heard, a British writer and philosopher—a man who would later be called “the grandfather of the New Age movement.”

Smith, who would later write The World’s Religions, a book first published in 1958 and still widely used as a religious studies text, had come to Berkeley from Chicago in 1944 with his wife, Kendra, and their daughter, Karen. He was already an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and spent his weekends down on the Monterey Peninsula, where he had a part-time job leading Sunday services at a small church with a congregation composed mainly of local cannery workers.
California Magazine
Articles of Faith
Spring, 2011

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The New Believers

the new believers
A surprising number of Asian Students are drawn to the supportive structure of
evangelical congregations.

Christian rock music blasts through the open doors of the Student Union as hundreds of Asian-American undergrads clamber up the stairs to a packed Pauley Ballroom. It’s the annual New Student Welcome Night hosted by three campus ministries run by Gracepoint Fellowship Church, a fast-growing Berkeley congregation that has redefined what it means to be a Christian at Cal in the early years of the new millennium.
California Magazine
Fall, 2009

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A Prophet in Purgatory


Photo by Trent Nelson

Will throwing the book at poly-gamist Warren Jeffs bust up his sect or be a boon to it?
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
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The Truth About “Big Love”


Photo by Lacey Terrell

“Big Love,” the HBO series, is a big hit among some dissident members of Jeffs' sect, the
largest of several polygamist factions that refuse to accept the mainstream Mormon Church's long-standing decision to renounce the practice of plural marriage.

San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, June 10, 2007

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Gay Monogamous Couple
are Brains Behind Polygamy Show



Photo by Ron Batzdorff

Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, the screenwriting team that created “Big Love,” don't have a personal interest in Mormonism or polygamy, but they do know something about family lifestyles outside the American mainstream
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, June 10, 2007
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Former ‘Jesus freak’ traces the evolution of Christian rock
bob dylan
Bob Gersztyn owned a fine collection of 300 rock ‘n’ roll albums in 1971, the year he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Among them were some choice 1960s vinyl from Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Mothers of Invention.

But all of a sudden, this was the devil’s music.

“I destroyed some of them with a hammer and took the rest to a used record store,” he recalled with a laugh. “I think I kept 10 classical music albums that I decided were not anti-Christian.”

Today, at age 65, Gersztyn’s religious fervor has mellowed; he rarely attends church and calls himself “an allegorical Christian.” But he has put together his love of pop music and photography to publish an illustrated, two-volume work titled “Jesus Rocks the World — The Definitive History of Contemporary Christian Music.”
Washington Post
April 17, 2013

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Esalen Institute
Like countless spiritual pilgrims, Esalen Institute
faces its own midlife crisis

Perched atop the rugged splendor of the California coast south of Monterey, the Esalen Institute is the mother church for people who call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Over the last five decades, hundreds of thousands of seekers have come to this incubator of East-meets-West spirituality looking for news ways to bring together body, mind, psyche and soul.

But today, as this iconic hot springs spa and retreat center celebrates its 50th birthday, a bitter dispute has broken out over its future. Like the many “seminarians” who come here after losing a spouse or a job, Esalen now faces its own midlife crisis.
Washington Post
May 29, 2012
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Studying the art of gratitude

Are we in the middle of a gratitude movement? Evidence suggests so

Publishers can't seem to print enough books with the words “gratitude” or “gratefulness” in the title. Scientists rake in millions of dollars in grants to study how feelings of gratitude might improve physical health and psychological well-being. And this weekend, hundreds are expected to attend a Pathways to Gratefulness conference at the Palace of Fine Arts to talk about cultivating gratefulness in their lives.
San Francisco Chronicle Datebook Page E - 1
Monday, June 18, 2012
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Leary's Legacy

People still have issues with the Sixties.

It was a decade of idealism and divisiveness. Three years into the decade, Bob Dylan railed against mothers and fathers throughout the land. Don’t criticize what you can’t understand. Jim Morrison proclaimed we want the world, and we want it … now. Much of this can be explained by demographics and the arrogance of youth. Then there were the drugs, especially the psychedelic drugs.
California Magazine
Fall, 2010

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Choosing to be Chosen

Religious leaders gather
to challenge notions 
of “Who is a Jew?”

Rabbi Capers Funnye, the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew  Congregation in Chicago, doesn't look  Jewish—at least to some Jewish eyes.
California Magazine
July/August, 2008

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