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The Secular Mind

By Robert Coles
Princeton University. 1999. 189 pp. $19.95 ISBN 0-691-05805-9

Reviewed by Charles Davidson
Farmington Hills, Mich.


What does it mean to be within hearing distance of the Holy? Does it mean we hear? And if we hear, we understand? And if we understand, we heed what we hear?

Of mites and miters

In semi-retirement I turned down an opportunity to serve on the candidates committee, as we used to call it, thinking that if I accepted the assignment I'd feel like I hadn't retired from anything.  I'm sure those who do serve the committees on preparation for ministry are much appreciated for the work they do on behalf of new "recruits." Here are some "post-game" reflections for the benefit of those who're soon to become "rookies" and are wondering and wavering about whether or not to enter the field.   

Easter at Christmas

Christmas is both "the best of times" and "the worst of times." It is best when its spirit kindles the light of Christ’s compassion and love in the hearts of believers. It is worst when it brings to mind the loneliness, melancholy and sorrow that is felt by all who grieve their losses, unable to touch the hands and faces of those whom they once loved. It is worst, too, for those whose life at the margins, in deprivation, impoverishment and disenfranchisement, casts a long shadow upon the future.

Voices of Dissent and the Bush Doctrine

In times of crisis as well as tranquility, public dissent is the conscientious conservator of democratic freedoms. As Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, retired Navy, recently said, "Where there is no dissent, there is no democracy."

He was speaking in dissent and opposition to the "Bush Doctrine" of "exceptionalism" which has flouted the judicious wisdom of historic international principles for waging war, including the classical Christian bases of a just war.

Christmas Evermore

What do you do with the tinsel on the Christmas tree after Christmas? Save it for next year? Decorate birthday gifts? Throw it away?

I still have the handmade Santa Claus that I fashioned out of poster board, and then colored with red crayon (Santa’s suit), with black crayon (Santa’s belt and one boot) and with brown crayon (Santa’s other boot) plus a clump of fluffy cotton glued on for his straggly beard. Santa has hung around on the family Yule tree every year since I was in the first grade.

The Bitter Frost and the Wild Snowflake

Despite late November spring-like temperatures, the fiery red, golden passion of October's glory has fallen fast. From the mighty oak, maple and ash, the crippled stem and crinkled leaf have tumbled down to the hard, hard ground, where they are crushed like fodder under the hoof of the deer and the boot of the hunter.