Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith" book cover with photo of author Barbara Falconer Newhall

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

Click to learn more about "Wrestling with God"

Today: Radio Host Bob Dutko and I Get Real on WMUZ-FM Radio

Bob Dutko talks about God’s sovereignty and his daughter’s sudden death.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Conservative Christian radio host Bob Dutko will be calling me up at 2:30 ET today to chat about my new book, Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith.

Bob’s nationally syndicated show is broadcast out of Detroit at WMUZ 103.5 FM. If you live in southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio or close-in Ontario, no problem, you should be able to catch the radio broadcast. Otherwise, you can go on line and hear the show streamed live. Just follow this link and click on the big red “Listen Live” button.

I’ve listened to Bob’s show, and he seems to be a thoughtful guy. But — and this is a big but — he’s a Bible-believing defender of Jesus as the only way to God, and I’m a religion writer with a broad-based, interfaith outlook.

Bob is the former national press secretary of the Christian Coalition, and he has debated the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and atheist groups. He’s also gone head-to-head with scientists on the subject of evolution. I’m not much of a debater, but I love to talk about my book and the diverse people who tell their stories in it. I’m looking forward to getting to know Bob Dutko!

There will be more author events coming up, including a reading and talk at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 11, at Book Passage bookstore, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, California.



  1. David Newhall says:

    Why is the god of every religion so intent on making it look like they don’t exist? Absolutely everything we see in the world is completely consistent with a universe that is not dualistic, i.e., that has no supernatural component whatsoever. If, in fact, the universe is indeed dualistic, and humans actually have a supernatural aspect, and there is in fact one or more supernatural beings of the kind believed in by religious people, why is it now so important to these beings that it not look like they exist? The scriptures from various religions make it clear that in their belief systems, it was not always this way – miracles abound in the Bible, for example, and no attempt to hide their source is made in the stories.

    • David, how about thinking about God in some other way than as a being outside of the universe?

      Maybe God is part of the Universe, exerting an influence on it.

      Consider process theology wherein “it is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes,” and “God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. “Persuasion” in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control . . .” That’s from Wikipdia:

      • David Newhall says:

        God’s being part of the universe or outside it does not go to the question of why the universe does not give any indication of a dualistic aspect. If there is some “divine” aspect to the universe, why is it that this is never apparent in any way that is inconsistent with a universe entirely devoid of such a divine aspect? To me, it seems pointless to chase the question of the exact nature of the divine down the labyrinthine rabbit hole of tortured logic until we have indeed established that such a thing might actually exist. To people who believe, I would suggest that this should be a compelling question. Let us decide what we are, first; are we beings with an aspect far more complex and incomprehensible than we appear, with the ability (and destiny) to survive death? Is there a “dual” existence, mostly (but not entirely) separate from the obvious, physical one? What is the nature of consciousness, and in particular, how does a supernatural element in what makes us us interact with the physical brain? If the answer to these can be found through an entirely nondualistic approach (which I am convinced it can, and actually must), then all the speculation on the nature of the divine is doomed to writhe forever in meaninglessness.

        In an old joke, the head of the physics department of a university meets with the dean to discuss his proposal for buying new equipment. The dean is surprised by the amount of the request, and tells the physicist, “This is huge! The physics department always needs new machines, ever-more-expensive particle accelerators, computers, staff, and on and on! Why can’t you be like the math department? All they ever need are pencils and erasers! Or better yet, the philosophy department — all they need are pencils!”

        The great temptation, I think, with ideas that have no bounds or constraints, is that they allow endless escape from apparent problems through more and more reinterpretation and redefinition, without the need to accommodate external constraints. This leads to ideas that can suit any outlook or attitude. Now, this seems like it would cause bursts of incredible imagination, that without bounds, the mind could reach the full potential of imagination, and that such pursuit might lead ultimately to a deep truth. However, I think that this turns out not to be true at all. Left to its own devices, the mind will explore the territory it knows (this territory is huge), and never be forced into other areas, areas it didn’t even know existed. With constraints, however, the mind is forced to find new ways out of a problem. When desperately flailing for the exit in the dark, when it seems like all possible routes have been found, the mind finally goes in an entirely different direction, and discovers that the room it thought it was trapped in had, in fact, a very different nature than it seemed at first. Without the walls of that room, the mind could wander forever in some direction, and never be forced to explore this different nature.

        The best example I can think of here is mathematics. In areas such as topology, we are forced to deal with shapes that are not imaginable on their own; higher-dimensional shapes and spaces that cannot be visualized, and that would never be thought of “out of thin air”. We are forced to try to understand them because of the mathematical properties they have (that they can be proved to have). This forces us to think in entirely new ways to get out of a situation which is defined and impressed upon us by the constraints. It’s a bit like coming to a road block. You would have happily sailed right by the small road that took off into the wilderness if the road block hadn’t been there. But because it is, you are forced to find that small road, and it turns out to take you to amazing places.

        Thus, religion in particular seems very one-dimensional and simple to me. It only goes down the obvious road, and uses a small “bag of tricks” to try to answer what it thinks the biggest questions are. The “deepest” conclusions of most religious philosophical excursions seem to involve the idea that we, as conscious beings, are much more significant than we seem. The questions all revolve around us and our relationship to the universe, particularly the “divine” aspect. I find it frustrating that the thinking gets so trapped in a small space, when, by exploring the vast other areas of thought that are opened to us precisely by rejecting religion and embracing the idea that the universe has nothing to do with us, we could reach a much deeper understanding of everything.

  2. My conversation with Bob Dutko went pretty well, I think. He totally disagreed with my interfaith approach: he’s pretty sure that Jesus is the one and only way to God. But he was willing to have a conversation about things — instead of trying to flatten me with a debate . . . I think I’ll be OK with future radio interviews. Bring ’em on!

  3. Rich Riley says:

    Barb, I think you are right and Bob Dutko is wrong. By the way I noticed a pea levitating above my plate
    last week. I don’t know what that means. Rich Riley

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