The first time I met Richard Rohr, I disgraced myself. It was at the wonderful Greenbelt festival, where Father Richard was a speaker.
I am a skeptic. Some years ago, my mother 'blamed' this on my education in science. And it's true, over the years of analysing molecules and ideas I have become extraordinarily critical. I challenge most things I read in the news; doctors' diagnoses and marketing campaigns
Indeed, so magnanimous have some seen this spiritual Love to be, that an early follower of Jesus once said (emphasis added): "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
Being spiritual is easy if you spend your life meditating on a mountain top with intermittent breaks for yoga and energy treatments (I actually know people who pretty much live like this) but for most of us attempting to live a spiritual life of sorts we simply don't have the pleasure or privilege of living in this way.
The inconvenient truth is that the collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza is a collective endeavour in its own right - led by Israel, enforced by Egypt, endorsed by Saudi Arabia. Pity the poor Palestinians. Their territories are occupied by the Jewish state; their cause is abandoned by the Arab world.
In Iraq, right now, an ancient culture is being exterminated, wiped from the face of human history. The Yazidi minority had, until recently, found relative safe haven in Kurdish-controlled areas... However, recent reversals have forced both the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to withdraw their forces from the region, as ISIS continued its murderous advance across the north and west of the country.
1000 humanists from over 60 countries are assembling in Oxford today for the 2014 World Humanist Congress. This triennial gathering of members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) unites men and women from across the globe who believe that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity alone, without religious beliefs.
For violent religious extremism, what ISIS is doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what some Theravada Buddhists are doing to the Rohingya in Myanmar, is not only the enemy of Buddhists, Christians and Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Myanmar and Nigeria but the enemy of our common humanity.
One major objective of secularism is to balance everyone's religious rights and freedoms fairly. This naturally includes the rights and freedoms of the non-religious and those of minority religions. Yet Mr Pickles chooses to portray this as secularists trying to "impose" their "politically correct intolerance" on others.
The grave must have lain untended and forgotten for more than 70 years. And now, just three days after honouring my grandmother Ilse at the scene of her death, here I am in the cemetery, honouring her husband, my grandfather. This is truly a journey back to my family roots.
The first amendment in the United States is a wonderful thing. It means you can say whatever you like about anything... But with the increasing popularity of Facebook comment section fights, and chatroom brawls, I'm seeing more and more often that people seem to forget that freedom of speech goes both ways.
Nothing should be off limits to discussion. No, let me amend that. If you think some things should be off limits, let's sit down together and discuss that proposition itself. Let's not just insult each other and cut off all discussion because we rationalists have somehow wandered into a land where emotion is king.
During the Arab Spring, the ongoing Syrian revolution and now the war in Gaza, I find myself to be more of a political activist than an "impartial" journalist because I do not see how I can "sit on the fence" when injustices are taking place right before my eyes. Am I at risk of being criminalised for mixing my political views and how I report news?
On 29 November, 1941, my grandmother, Ilse Cohn, was shot here, in this field, by members of the Nazi death squad Einsatzkommando 3, under the command of a Swiss-born SS colonel called Karl Jäger. On that one day alone, they murdered 2,000 Jews who had been deported by train from Vienna and from my grandmother's hometown of Breslau. So I have come to honour my grandmother's memory. My mother was her only child and although Ilse had three brothers, she had no nephews or nieces. My brother and I, and my two children, are her only living relatives.
In short, any agent who is not registered and cannot provide anything in writing needs to be given a wide berth. Otherwise for many it could mean not just a ruined Eid, but also the trip of a lifetime.
Apparently, The Gaza Strip isn't just a lap dancing club in Golders Green, nor is it a new waxing technique adopted by Israeli women. Believe it or not, it is in fact a place where stuff has been kicking off for a long time...