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The Sun Magazine

Religion and Philosophy

Fundamentalism

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How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years

In the summer of 1979, I fell ruinously in love with a coltish, athletically robust Greek girl of fifteen named Nicole Liarkos . When I think of her now (which isn’t very often), I always imagine her poolside, her creamy caramel skin twice bisected by the triple triangles of her buttercup yellow bikini, her left arm blocking the sun from her eyes. We met in July of that year, on a church youth retreat in Panama City, Florida, and, as fate would have it, I fell for her the exact same week that Bob Dylan accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. I was thirteen years old. I knew next to nothing about sex, death, or God and absolutely everything about rock music.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Hell

Ten minutes into a recent flight from San Jose to St. Louis, I was reveling in a first-class upgrade and a new Margaret Atwood novel when I felt and heard a powerful thump. The aircraft, which had been gaining altitude, rocked vigorously. The man next to me widened his eyes, asking, “What was that?” Startled murmurs went around the cabin.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Excerpts From Path Without Destination

Possessions are signs of status, success, position, and power. It’s no wonder that our modern society has been called the consumer society. Unlimited economic growth has become the ideal of every nation in the world. In order to achieve such growth, we have destroyed lives, families, the social fabric, and our relationship with the natural world. We have passed the point of increasing human well-being by increasing material wealth.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

In Defense Of Original Sin

The Neglected Genius Of American Spirituality

Longtime Sun readers are probably well acquainted with John Taylor Gatto’s criticisms of the public-school system, in which he taught for twenty-six years. He was named New York State Teacher of the Year before retiring to become one of compulsory schooling’s most vocal opponents. The following essay, however, represents a departure of sorts. Its focus is not what’s wrong inside the schools, but what’s been kept out of them — namely, spirituality.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Encounter Above Tintern Abbey

Tintern Parva was a Cistercian monastery built in the Middle Ages, on the Welsh side of the River Wye. It was occupied continuously for about three centuries, then plundered and closed during the reign of Henry VIII. The ruins were popular with the English romantics of the 1790s. It was just their sort of place: the ancient stones were covered with ivy, an old beggar woman lived in one of the remaining cells. According to the poet William Wordsworth, the surrounding scenery included “steep and lofty cliffs,” “waters rolling from their mountain springs with a soft inland murmur,” “little lines of sportive wood run wild,” and “wreaths of smoke sent up in silence from among the trees.” In a sketch by the painter J. M. W. Turner, the whole area looked like it might have been full of chasms, measureless to man, haunted by ghosts wailing for their demon lovers.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Drowning

At the age of two, I saw the ocean for the first time. I threw wide my short arms and ran shouting, straight into the Pacific, where an undertow reached out to embrace me. I still remember the upside-down whirlpool of warmth, like the womb out of which I’d so recently swum.

The Sun Interview

Renegade Priest

An Interview With Matthew Fox

For many, God is a forbidding patriarch unwilling to forgive us the episode in the Garden — an aloof being who got the ball rolling and now sits back with finger wagging. Matthew Fox has struggled to promote a radically different view, one that celebrates a God very much in the world, no farther away than the earth beneath our feet or the presence of a loved one.

Readers Write

The Moon

When the moon is full I go absolutely crazy, I do. I go mad. I want to run and jump and leap through the streets, I want to have sex with trees, to dance until dawn. I want to climb mountains wearing soft butterscotch boots that go all the way up my thigh. I can feel radiant energies shooting into and out of every part of me. I don’t know what to do first! I feel totally crazed. It’s a truly wonderful sensation and it lasts (as I believe the full moon does) for about three days — maybe longer, depending. Then I forget about it somehow, just to be surpised all over again.

The Sun Interview

Judaism’s Mystical Heart

An Interview With Dovid Din

Judaism is very concerned with the natural rhythms of things . . . like crying children, and the pulse of family life. It insists on family life, and is very cautious of the ascetic or celibate life — which may be an important route, but it’s not real.