"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

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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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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…]

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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…]

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One Broken Ankle, and Two Lives Grind to a Halt. Or, Why You Should Definitely Stop and Tie That Loose Shoelace

A 75-year-old man with his broken ankle in a cast in a hospital bed in his den with TV. Photo by Barbara Newhall

I rented a hospital bed to set up in the den, the room with the biggest TV. It’s not far from bathroom and kitchen. Jon’s non-injured leg was weakened by polio, so he needs that wheelchair and knee walker to get around. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Jon’s got a broken ankle — and a torn deltoid ligament. Life has ground to a halt for him. And for me. The orthopedic surgeon who stitched the ligament back in place says absolutely no weight is to be put on that foot for at least four [Read more…]

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The Turkeys at Our House, Dead and Alive

A turkey roasted brown and ready to be carved. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Turkeys at our house: this one was delicious. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Hope you are having a great Thanksgiving surrounded by friends, family or both — of every political persuasion. As always there’s a lot to be thankful for, but today I’m feeling especially grateful for that most American of birds, the turkey.

Every year around this time a bunch of them show up at our house. One arrives in a shopping bag, all plucked and cleaned and frozen and ready to be stuffed. [Read more…]

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