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‘Mommy, Somebody’s Having a Baby’

By Robert C. Koehler On a shrugged-off afternoon of YouTube wandering, I came upon this: “Is There Life After Death?” Hmmm . . . well, is there? Turns out it was a presentation by five professors at the University of Virginia, moderated, good God, by John Cleese. I more or less had no choice but […]

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Surrendering Power to Reverence

By Robert C. Koehler “I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous Peoples.” So said Pope Francis last week, at a powwow in Alberta, at the start of his “apology tour” across Canada — for the participation of the Catholic Church in the multi-century horror of Native American […]

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The Cynics’ Monkey Wrench

By Robert C. Koehler If you depart from an “us vs. them” philosophy of life, your first confrontation is likely to be with the cynics. Last week, for instance, I wrote about the weekend I spent, a decade ago, getting handgun training from the NRA — and what I learned, which is that the things […]

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My Weekend with the Good Guys

By Robert C. Koehler You may find this shocking, but a little over a decade ago I spent a weekend learning how to shoot a handgun — under the auspices of the NRA. I wound up earning myself an NRA “personal protection in the home” certificate. For years I have pondered writing about this weekend, […]

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White Supremacists Want ‘Their’ Country Back

By Robert C. Koehler Is an insurrection percolating in the MAGA universe? A civil war? One thing I notice as I read the growing warnings that this is the case is the assumption that suddenly the USA has become a divided nation, a splintered democracy, when, in point of fact, it has always been deeply […]

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Growing Up, Becoming a Man

By Robert C. Koehler I’ve made my own choices along the path of life — spiritual, mental, physical. I declared myself a non-believer in my parents’ religion at age 16. I’d just read the book Exodus, by Leon Uris, and couldn’t tolerate the church’s teaching that all non-believers, including all Jews, were going to hell. […]

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Choice Without Shackles

By Robert C. Koehler “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.” What could be more convincing than that? […]

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Good Guys with Guns?

By Robert C. Koehler Ready, aim, fire: “I believe in Jesus, guns and babies.” So declares Kandiss Taylor, GOP candidate for governor of Georgia, in a campaign ad. Or how about: “I’m Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, and today, we’re going RINO-hunting.” This is not about killing rhinoceroses. “RINO” stands for Republican in Name Only – […]

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Embracing the Complexity of Peace

By Robert C. Koehler “Just imagine for once if we led the world in funding peace and not wars.” Just imagine! The words are those of Robert Weissman, president of the organization Public Citizen, in response to the legislative efforts of Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, who are the co-chairs of — glory hallelujah! […]

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The Collateral Damage Comes Home

By Robert C. Koehler “They were at places that seemed safe — but few spaces in America are guaranteed safe anymore.” This is CNN, doing its best to stay atop America’s mass shootings and keep the survivors (by which I mean us) informed. Yeah, 13 gun massacres this past weekend, at strip malls, nightclubs, graduation […]

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Sexual Abuse and the American Way

By Robert C. Koehler And another sex scandal pops into the news. This time it’s the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, cringing in shame upon the recent release of a “bombshell” report detailing two decades of sexual abuse by pastors and other church officials, along with ongoing official coverup of the crimes […]

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Beyond Gun Control, We Need Hatred Control

By Robert C. Koehler Another terrorist slips into the classroom, into the news. Does anyone understand this? Even if guns are easily, readily available, why, why, why? I find it impossible even to be angry — it’s hard to be angry under incomprehensible circumstances. Instead, I find myself imagining George W. Bush giving a speech […]

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The Heart Is Mightier Than the Sword

By Robert C. Koehler They’re coming for me! Sounds like a horror movie on permanent rewind through the brain, through the soul. Catch your breath, buy a gun. What other choice do you have? It’s called, among other things, “white replacement theory” — but my sense is that the fear itself (fear of God-knows-what) comes […]

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Eve’s Choice: Patriarchy No Longer Rules

By Robert C. Koehler “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” — Genesis 2:18. RSV One chapter later, after Eve was held responsible for the First Sin (Adam, the submissive male, just did what she told him to), […]

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A Promise to Our Kids: We Won’t Kill You

By Robert C. Koehler At a certain point, as I was reading the book I’d recently been sent, a strange transformation began occurring: Gradually, as I moved ever deeper into it, I wasn’t so much reading as quietly singing a hymn . . . participating in a chant. The book is A Promise to Our […]

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The Global Suicide Budget

By Robert C. Koehler “Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” I truly wish these words of Ike, uttered seven decades ago, were no longer quite so relevant. Perhaps what he should have called it was a “cross of irony.” In 2021, the human race, in order […]

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Humanity: Evolving in Spite of Itself

By Robert C. Koehler As wars rage, as cruelty shatters lives across the planet — as nuclear Armageddon remains a viable option for all of us — I think it’s time to claim some stunning awareness in this regard. The human race is evolving in spite of itself — evolving beyond war, beyond empire, beyond […]

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Nuclear Weapons and Cranial Winter

By Robert C. Koehler Nuclear sanity: ultimate (or, God help us, immediate) disarmament. Nuclear insanity: ongoing development and deployment, endless investment, eventual (either accidental or intentional) use. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., addressing Congress several weeks ago, made a heartfelt and powerful case for nuclear sanity, for a revamping of the system of mutually assured destruction, […]

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Standing Together for the Sacred

By Robert C. Koehler The soul of humanity cries out from the crowded streets of Moscow, from steps near the Kremlin, as a man — an artist in the deepest sense — brings the slaughter of civilians in Bucha back to the home country . . . not by killing a bunch of Russians, but […]

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Save the Planet, Behead the Military Budget

By Robert C. Koehler Americans “need to imagine their vote has an impact on policy, an illusion the media encourages them to believe in.” Ouch! Peter Isaacson, writing in Fair Observer, seems to be saying . . . oh my God, democracy is a cliché, a big sham. I stand up, put my hand on […]

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When Jim Crow Greeted Black Veterans

By Robert C. Koehler I figured I’d better write this column while doing so is still legal (at least I think it is), but I don’t recommend reading it aloud in a third-grade classroom. There’s a piece of legislation sitting in the House Veterans Affairs Committee — H.R. 5905 — that cuts a swath 75 […]

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Transcending the Certainties of War

By Robert C. Koehler Peace, in the deepest sense — in the midst of war — requires a clarity and courage well beyond the boundaries of linear understanding. The warning lights flash. World War III has entered the red zone. Can we stare into hell and refuse to see . . . an enemy? This […]

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Life Goes on, Right?

By Robert C. Koehler I had a breakthrough yesterday — and I don’t mean metaphorically. Wars rage, countless humans suffer, the rich get richer, life goes on. I still have my morning coffee. But not yesterday. What happened — about 5 a.m. — was a fleeting . . . oh so fleeting . . . […]

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The Frailty of Peace in the Midst of War

By Robert C. Koehler Prior to any analysis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prior to the casting of blame and outrage — at Putin’s hubris, at NATO’s pernicious eastward expansion over the last three decades — there’s this: “Our world has become so interdependent that violent conflict between two countries inevitably impacts the rest […]

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Creating Peace Means Changing the World

By Robert C. Koehler Only threat, pain and inflicted hell preserve peace, right? Get the bad guy! Russia: bad. If it invades Ukraine, such a “voluntary war of aggression,” according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times, “would be a sign that Putin believed that Pax Americana was over and that the U.S., the […]

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