"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"

Goodreads Giveaway: Win a Copy of “Wrestling with God”

Barbara Falconer Newhall, author of "Wrestling with God," is shown with a copy of her book. 2015. Newhall is offering free copies of her book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. Photo by Barbara Newhall

This book could be yours. Selfie by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

OK, the odds of winning are against you: I’m giving away three copies of my book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway contest, and typically hundreds of people enter those contests.

But — if you’re already a Goodreads user, there’s no downside to entering. Just click away and
you have a chance of winning a free copy, signed by me, of Wrestling with God.

If you aren’t on Goodreads, now’s a good time to think about joining. Goodreads is a fun [Read more…]


Cheap Thrills at the Glasmuseum Passau — Outrageous, Over-the-Top Decorative Glass.

Rich, meticulous design from Josephine Glassworks, Silesia, circa 1898-1905. Photo by Barbara Newhal

Rich, meticulous design from Josephine Glassworks, Silesia, circa 1898-1905. Jugendstil-Art Nouveau. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Spotted at the labyrinthine Glasmuseum Passau — wonderfully outrageous, phantasmagoric decorative glass. Gotta share it with you. Take a look. Cheap thrills.

Yeah. Yeah. I’m definitely indulging in a bit of smug irony here. The folks [Read more…]


I’m a Studs Terkel Wannabe — He Captured American Voices

Studs Terkel, photo by Nina Subin

Studs Terkel. Photo by Nina Subin

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I’m a big fan of Studs Terkel. I love his books Working, The Good War and Hard Times. I admire the way Terkel captured voices, the individual, distinctive voices of Americans at work, at war, and in the throes of the Great

Studs let people talk and tell their stories. Every voice was different. The way Studs did it, it felt like you were sitting in a room with that World War II sailor or that guy who lost his business in the Great Depression.

Imitating Studs Terkel

It was with Studs in mind that, [Read more…]


Retired Is a State of Mind — Six Ways to Know If You’re There Yet

How to know when you're retired. You're on a  trail alongside Bon Tempe Lake in Marin county, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

On the trail around Bon Tempe Lake: That barely visible orange speck at the upper right is my hiking buddy. No doubt  I wasted some time taking photos, and she got way ahead of me. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Retired is a state of mind. Not a state of paycheck, or work schedule, or commute, or how much time you spend at the office.

I work full time. Forty hours a week, these days. Sixty maybe. But some time ago, I realized [Read more…]


Was That Old Testament God Just Trying to Keep Us in the Game?

Monopoly game board. Old testament God.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

People like to grumble about the out-datedness of the Bible in general, and of the very male, very judgmental Old Testament God in particular. But that fiery, ancient God of Hebrew Scripture has at least one redeeming quality, one he shares with my son Peter.

When Peter was four or five years old, he spent an afternoon with a little friend who was developmentally disabled. Peter was ready to play that afternoon. That is to say, Peter was ready to play – with somebody.

I watched my son try strategy after strategy to engage the other little boy. Patiently, he set aside one superhero figure after another, one truck, one train, one pile of blocks until at last he had found something that held the other boy’s attention and allowed the two of them to interact genuinely as friends.

Peter Newhall engaged in a fierce tug of of war game. Like the Old Testament God. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Peter at age 8. He didn’t give up easily, like the Old Testament God. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A few years after that, Peter discovered Monopoly. He was good at the game and, if he was playing with me, Park Place and St. James Place soon fell under his purview, and my stack of bills quickly dwindled to a few tens and a couple fifties.

At this point, I’d be ready to quit and get back to the kitchen, but Peter wanted to keep on going. He wanted to play – with somebody.

To keep me in the game, my son would stake me to atrociously large loans. His generosity was beyond reason – but it kept the game alive until dinner time or bedtime finally intervened.

Redeeming That Old Testament God

The God of Genesis is a lot like Peter. Crusty and angry and judgmental though he was much of the time, he had one endearing quality: he wanted to interact with humans — with somebody.

In Genesis 9, for example, when human beings mess up, the Old Testament God sends a massive flood and gives creation a fresh start. He quickly recognizes, however, that these creatures of his are bound to mess up again. It won’t be long before humanity is reduced once more to the moral equivalent of a few tens and a couple fifties.

To keep creation in the game, God ties one hand behind his back: he promises never to use the flood punishment again.

That old God, like little Peter, didn’t give up easily.

More about Peter at “When Your Six-Year-Old Wants to Talk Money.”  More about God at “John Shelby Spong: Christianity (Some of It) Is Bunk”  More about my new book at WrestlingWithGodBook.com.