Search
About Me

I write the monthly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and also report for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere. I have four daughters and two dogs.

Read More »

Invite me to speak

I speak often to universities, civic groups, public forums, houses of worship, and ideas festivals.

Learn More »

My New E-Book

My Recent E-Book



Read on PC/Mac, Kindle,
Nook, iPad, Smartphones
Social Media
Books I’ve Written

Site Design & Development
Monday
Oct042010

More on gay religious pioneer Jim Stoll

For those still interested in Jim Stoll, I will keep posting email threads like this one:

Hi Mark & Laura, Yes of course you can mention me on your blog and thank you for the fond memories you brought up with your article.

 

Jim was not an artist just fond of ethnic art.

 

5 or 6 of us activists SF Chapter Board members would often sit around in his front room planning our civil liberties agenda. He was a brilliant strategist always knowing the “bigger” issues involved. He was the inspiration in the early ‘90s for the SF Chapter bringing Keith Meinhold, the first Gay serviceman to be discharged from the military when he came out in public, to speak of his experience at a public forum at Golden Gate Law School.

 

After one of many medical diagnosis Jim received for a host of medical issues he told us that he would rather die with his legs on knowing if he didn’t have them amputated because of his diabetes  he would die. He was totally relieved and at peace with his decision and started making preparations for his death. This included giving away all his possessions and saying good byes to his friends. We loved him.

 

Take care, Phillip

 

Phillip Mehas Art Consulting
Tewksbury Heights
5815 Bernhard Ave.
Richmond, CA 94805
Office: 510 237-0066
Cell: 510 693-7000
phillipmehas@earthlink.net  

“Let the beauty we love be what we do”. Rumi

 

From: Laura Saponara [mailto:lsaponara@aclunc.org]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 10:07 AM
To: 'phillipmehas@earthlink.net'
Cc: 'Mark Oppenheimer'
Subject: FW: We love your article about Jim Stoll

 

Phil,

I will let you respond to Mark’s question (below) directly, okay?

Laura

 

From: Mark Oppenheimer [mailto:mark.e.oppenheimer@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 9:06 AM
To: Laura Saponara
Subject: Re: We love your article about Jim Stoll

 

Also, could I mention Phil's name on my blog, which I am using as a clearinghouse for people who want to know more about Stoll?

On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM, Mark Oppenheimer <mark.e.oppenheimer@gmail.com> wrote:

Thanks!

 

On Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 7:11 PM, Laura Saponara <lsaponara@aclunc.org> wrote:

Many people here have read it and we’re collectively grateful for the time and care you’ve taken to excavate Stoll’s contribution – to history and to our consciousness of the courage it takes to “take a stand for freedom,” as we say.  You succeeded in shining light on both his heroism and his struggles, allowing those of us who didn’t know him to take inspiration from him.  Very meaningful.  Thank you.

 

I just finally spoke with a fellow who served on the San Francisco ACLU chapter board of directors with Jim, a man by the name of Phillip Mehas.  Phil is one of the people who visited Jim often, remembers him very fondly, and told me about his memories of a catered dinner with a group of loving people gathered around, during those very final days.  He also said that Jim invited his friends to take the artwork that he had in his house, and so Phil has a few pieces that belonged to Jim.  (I’m not clear on whether Jim was an artist, or simply owned art by others…)   If you write more about Jim and want to be in touch with Phil, here is his contact information:  510.693.7000 (cell); 510.237.0066.  phillipmehas@earthlink.net

 

Best wishes,

Laura

 

Laura Saponara

Communications Director

ACLU of Northern California

tel. 415.293.6326

lsaponara@aclunc.org

Sunday
Oct032010

What I would have added to the NYT’s Glenn Beck piece.

An admirable and highly readable piece about Glenn Beck in the Times Magazine on Sunday. I remember Glenn Beck from when he was one half of Glenn and Pat, and then one half of Glenn and Vinnie, on the KC-101 FM morning show here in New Haven. He always struck me as a typical morning-radio clown, not a particularly gifted practitioner of the art — no Howard Stern, Gary Craig, or John DeBella — but it does seem he has found his niche with the politics thing. Anyway, I have just three things to add.

First, it really ought to be read alongside this amazing article from Salon.com’s Alexander Zaitchik. The Times piece sportingly mentions the Salon.com piece about Glenn Beck a couple times, but really, there is so much to read in the Salon.com piece. Check it out.

Second, my own small contribution. Mark Leibovich hints at this in passing, but I want to focus on the fact that Glenn Beck actually appeals to listeners by offering them intellectual sustenance (or something pretending to be). My dad was in a Dunkin’ Donuts recently — we are from Massachusetts, after all — and a woman he met there said, “You know, Beck discovered that FDR knew the Japanese were going to invade. Beck has a whole staff of researchers learning things for him.” And as Leibovich notes, Beck can hold people spellbound by talking about the founding fathers and whatnot. Here is the point: the theologian Stanley Hauerwas was once talking to me about premillennial dispensationalists — you can Google it, if you care, but it is a kind of fundamentalist Christian, basically — and he said, “You know, their theories about the end times are not for stupid people. You have to be smart to follow that stuff.” His point was that people want ideas to chew over, they appreciate complex ideas, and they will gravitate toward people or institutions who seem to offer them red meat of that particular kind. Beck with his incredibly convoluted theories, the gold-standard stuff, the hatred for Woodrow Wilson: he really is offering a pretty deep, if internally inconsistent, worldview for people who do not have another worldview, like progressivism or Marxism or monetarism or even Christianity, in place. And he is offering books and thoughts and ideas, without condescension, to people who may not be comfortable getting such ideas from the Times or National Review.

Third, I would have said more about Beck’s place in contemporary Mormonism. I mean, if he and fellow Mormon Harry Reid bump into each other at Mormon worship, how does that go over?

Sunday
Oct032010

Do the Dutch hate Muslims?

A thoughtful piece from Christopher Beam about why the Netherlands produces so much anti-Muslim sentiment.

Sunday
Oct032010

Mail I Get When I Write About Atheists

This came to my e-mail inbox after I wrote my Times column about atheist and humanist Paul Kurtz. The subject line was “Mr. Kurtz, he dead”:

Spiritually dead, for sure.
 
Poor Mr Kutrz, too proud to see the abundant physical evidence of God's omnipotence and omnipresence.
 
--spontaneous remission of advanced diseases in the baths at Lourdes, France, since 1858.
--the Tre Fontane apparition in Rome, 1947
--the apparition and miracle cure at Isle d'Chambord, France, in 1947.
--the miracle cure of Peter De Rudder, Oostakker (Ghent), Belgium, 1875.
 
dozens of others, similar to the above, have been extensively chronicled over the centuries.
 
Please consult "The Miracle Detective" (2002) by a former skeptic and Rolling Stone reporter, Randall Sullivan, for many such cures, and detailed investigation of the miraculus apparitions at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, since 1981.
I must say, I do want to go read the Randall Sullivan book, which I had not known.
Saturday
Oct022010

Annie Murphy Paul supports my writing habit

I am thrilled for my friend Annie Murphy Paul that her new book is on the cover of Time magazine, is getting a strong review from The New York Times, and is generally rocking and rolling. Thrilled indeed, not just because she is a worthy soul, but also because if she makes a ton of money for Free Press, our shared publisher, than they can continue to lose money on books by the likes of me. Onward!

(I should, however, say that I am terrified to read her book, because what if it tells me that my wife has to give up doing stuff I love during pregnancy, like, you know, baking brownies or reading to me from the “Star Tracks” section of People magazine, lest she retard our fetuses’ development?)

Here she is on the boob tube, just for your pleasure: