"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…]


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…]


Fifteen Patriotic Holiday Gifts for the Worried Progressives on Your List

Patriotic holiday gifts: The American flag is spread at a Warriors basketball game in Oakland, CA. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A Warriors game in blue state California, where subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times or San Francisco Chronicle would make patriotic holiday gifts. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The holidays are upon us, and it’s getting way too late to put a package in the mail in time for the celebrations ahead. But it’s not too late to give patriotic holiday gifts to friends and family troubled at the prospect of an incoming president [Read more…]


Christmas Is Big. Bigger Than Christianity — And Donald Trump

A cheery Santa Claus painted by Art Thou on a store window in Oakland, CA, 2016. Christmas is bigger than Christianity. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Christmas is big. And so is this cheery Santa Claus painted by a local artist on a holiday store window in our neighborhood. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Christmas is big — bigger than Christianity. And it’s getting bigger.

Our decades-old World Book Encyclopedia devotes four dutiful pages to Christianity — and nine luscious full-color spreads to Christmas. Copyrighted 1994, our family’s set of books sits on a shelf within reach of our dining room table. There, it was a handy reference in our pre-cell phone days whenever a dinner  [Read more…]


Oakland’s Ghost Ship — A Vigil

A memorial banner by schoolchildren at the site of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 mostly young people, artists, musicians, LGBTQ folks. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A memorial banner, painted by schoolchildren, at the site of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I keep thinking, if only. If only those young people hadn’t decided to party. If only the makeshift stairways of the Ghost Ship had been closer to the exits. If only there had been fire escapes. If only Oakland’s building department had been  [Read more…]