JAMES COWLES is a weekly contributing author. Married to Diane for 29 years, going on 30 (as of 18 Aug ’14), no kids. I retired in 2010 after 30+ years as, at various times, an engineer, software developer, and software development manager with the Boeing Co. Diane works as a librarian at the Beacon Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library system. I have a master’s in math from Wichita State Univ, a master’s in physics as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow from Tulane, a master’s in English lit from Tufts by way of Harvard and, as a Council of Europe Fellow, Oxford (Exeter College … same Oxford college as JRR Tolkien), and a master’s in theology (MAPS) from Seattle Univ. My main current interest is constitutional history and theories of constitutional interpretation (my area of specialization at Tufts / Harvard / Oxford was postmodernist / deconstructionist interpretation theory). I’m currently auditing a class in advanced constitutional law at the UW law school, and plan to audit another class on the First Amendment next quarter, plus take a Coursera non-credit course in “con law” from one of my heroes Prof. Akhil Amar at Yale Law early in ’14. I am a “born-again” skeptic / atheist / agnostic (depending on what I ate for breakfast on any given morning) and equally “born-again” progressive who believes that anchorman Will McAvoy’s rant against the Tea Party as the “American Taliban” in the first episode of “The Newsroom” — which, if you don’t watch, you should — was far too charitable to the Tea Party and an insult to the Taliban, who are much more enlightened than, e.g., Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. I believe that the “minimal state” as advocated in Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” is a fine goal — but only for “minimal people”. I also believe the greatest threat to America’s tradition of ordered liberty under the US Constitution is the Christian fascism of the religious right, and the 2nd greatest danger to that tradition is the unintentional, in fact, almost knee-jerk, nurturing of Christian fascism on the part of progressives in the name of “tolerance” (see Sam Harris’s remarks on same early in “The End of Faith”). The latter group, especially, would do well to read John Milton’s great defense of freedom of speech and press, “Areopagitica”, with careful attention to what Milton says about the moral limits of tolerance.
JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day and Beguine Again). A poet, writer, and former columnist. I began a blog after medical retirement as a way to maintain my sanity and stay connected to the arts and the artful. The Poet by Day, the Uncollected Poems of An Accidental Poet ... Sometimes, Not Poems is my playground, a space where I share news and thoughts on poetry and poets, writers and artists and sometimes offer book or movie reviews or my own poems. I often address social justice issues. Here at Beguine Again, my posts in daily practice are Wednesdays and my assigned topic is "joy," which I sometimes address directly and sometimes obliquely.
With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded The Bardo Group a diverse collaborative of creatives. I feel that our art and our social connection through blogging offers a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.” I am the managing editor of The BeZine, published by Beguine Again and The Bardo Group.
CHRYSTY HENDRICK of Reflections on Being, Healing, and Wandering is a weekly contributing writer for “Gratitude Fridays.” She says, “I am a student of theology, people, and life. About a year ago, I decided to incorporate a public element to my private prayer life. I believe that prayer, at its best, can be ministry and expression as well as it’s traditional elements. I have learned from studies that gratitude is a window into the world as it could be. So I tweet a gratitude every day. Nothing grandiose. Just ordinary moments in an ordinary life with an extraordinary God. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @AuntChrysty if you would like to experience an instant of gratitude each busy blessed day.”
RUTH JEWELL is a weekly contributing author and site administrator. Ruth Jewell recently received her Masters of Divinity from Seattle University, School of Theology and Ministry. She is currently in-care at Queen Anne Christian Church in preparation for possible ordination in the tradition of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is a board member and volunteer for the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, which serves youth in criminal detention. Ruth has a long personal history of practicing contemplative spiritual practices, which have been instrumental in much of her own discernment process. She hopes to pass on her love of sitting with the Holy Spirit. She also writes at aquietwalk.com.
DONNA PIERCE is a weekly contributing author for “Mindful Mondays.” Over the years, I’ve been a college textbook sales rep, a literacy education professor, a storeowner, a social service nonprofit founder, a stay-home mom, and the caregiver for my parents during the last few years of their lives. My husband Larry and I recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary, and we have two daughters, one in college and one in high school. I engaged the spiritual practices of both Christianity and Buddhism, sometimes leaning more one way, sometimes the other. Christianity tends to guide my life in community, and Buddhism helps me live more easily with myself, though the reverse is true as well.