"Wrestling with God" book with Barbara Falconer Newhall

Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith

"Any seeker of any faith will be blessed to read the words of this fine author and observer."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Click to learn more about "Wrestling with God"

Wisdom From My Father — Or, How to Sweep the Kitchen Floor

the barn on the farm where my father was born outside scottville michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Falconer barn near Scottville, Michigan, where my father, David Bishop Falconer, learned the work habits he passed on to me. The silo was built the year my father was born on the family farm, 1912. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

My father’s voice came to me the other day as I was sweeping the kitchen floor. To his friends my father was Dave Falconer, to business associates, D.B. Falconer. He died in 1991, but there he was the other day, coaching me as I worked. Per his instructions, I made short, firm, methodical  sweeps, working my way around and around the room until I ended up in the middle, with all the kitchen debris corralled in a tidy mess at its center.

Years and years ago, in a little three-room cottage within breathing distance of Lake Michigan, my father assigned me the job of sweeping up the white beach sand our family had tracked in from the lake. I began the job aimlessly, pushing some sand around over here, creating a pile of sand over there. At the rate I was going, the job would never get done; that was clear to my father.

My Father Shows Me How

My dad took the broom from me and showed me how to go about a task — this task and the thousands and thousands of tasks, menial and mental, I [Read more…]

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I Landed a Bit Part in a Real Movie — Thank You, Armistead Maupin

The crew of a documentary about Armistead Maupin crowded into the writing studio of author Barbara Falconer Newhall: assistant Val Castro, sound recordist Mark Whelan, make-up Joel King, director Jennifer Kroot, cinematographer Shane King. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The crew of an upcoming documentary about Armistead Maupin crowded into my writing room for an interview. From left: assistant Val Castro, sound recordist Mark Whelan, make-up Joel King, director Jennifer Kroot, cinematographer Shane King. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Yes, it’s true. I’ll be making a brief appearance in a movie coming out soon. It’s a documentary about my old San Francisco Chronicle pal, Armistead Maupin, the author of the ribald, much-loved “Tales of the City” novels and TV series.

Documentarian Jennifer M. Kroot needed to interview someone who’d been there at the birth of “Tales of the City” and could tell some tales out of school.

I love a good story and I do have a few to tell about Armistead’s struggles to show up at the Chronicle city room on a regular basis and turn in newspaper copy on a tight deadline. Deadlines are a challenge for the best of journalists, but [Read more…]

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Huston Smith Dies at 97: A Mentor to Me . . . and Millions

Huston Smith signed copies of his book, "And Live Rejoicing," at Sagrada bookstore, Oakland, CA. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Huston Smith at a book signing at Sagrada bookstore, Oakland, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Sad but inevitable news: religion scholar Huston Smith died at the age of 97 on December 30. I’m just one of the millions of fans, friends, seekers and skeptics who admired — loved — this wise and compassionate man. Here’s a piece I wrote about my affection for Huston Smith back in September, 2009. 

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Huston Smith doesn’t know it, but he’s been my mentor for the past decade and a half — ever since I took a job as religion reporter at a local [Read more…]

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Something Old — Ten Ideas, Old and New, From a Mother of the Bride

Something old -- the cream colored pumps I wore for my 1977 wedding were too long and too narrow for Christina's foot. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Something old — the cream colored pumps I wore for my 1977 wedding were too long and too narrow for Christina’s foot. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. — Old English Rhyme

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I thought my 40-year-old shoes would make a perfect “something old” for Christina’s wedding trousseau in May. So did Christina. My wedding shoes couldn’t be more vintage but, given their boxy shape, my daughter and I thought they could easily pass for stylish in 2017.

Too bad that the shoes were too narrow for Christina’s feet. And my lacy 1977 wedding dress was too small.

As the mother of the bride, with lots of years to my credit (my past [Read more…]

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“Bamboo Secrets” — A Love Story in the Shadow of Japan

Patricia Dove Miller signs copies of "Bamboo Secrets," at Book Passage, Marin, June 11, 2016. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Patricia Dove Miller signed copies of “Bamboo Secrets” at Book Passage book store. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

You’d think that if you’d read a book five, six, maybe fifteen times, you wouldn’t want to read it yet again. But I did. I really did. In fact, when I finally got my very own ink-and-paper copy of my writing buddy’s book, “Bamboo Secrets,” and I started reading it, I could not put the darned thing down.

I polished it off in a matter of days, forgoing my morning news fix with the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle for the pleasures of [Read more…]

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