Hell

Hell

I, a confirmed atheist, have found the definitive definition of hell. Now, hear me out, please. If there really were a hell, and who knows, maybe there is, I discovered what it would be. We had to cancel our five-week vacation in Europe after one week because of my...

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Virgins and Martyrs

Virgins and Martyrs

  When I was in the convent a long time ago, we had a lot of instruction periods about virgins and martyrs. I don't know why the women who were martyred were mostly virgins – I guess mothers didn't have much time to defend their faith. They were busy raising the kids....

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Turning Seventy

Turning Seventy

I'm very ambivalent about turning seventy this month. On the one hand, I'm glad I'm still around for my 70th birthday. On the other hand, seventy is really OLD! I managed to pretend I was still middle-aged for a long time. I ignored my first AARP...

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Chicken Dinner

Chicken Dinner

My dad left Germany in 1927 to come to the United States. His father had already arrived here, and was working as a bricklayer. He told my dad there were many jobs for carpenters and that he really should come to America. So my dad left Hamburg. He was lucky to leave...

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Sir Isaac Newton, the celebrated English philosopher

Sir Isaac Newton, the celebrated English philosopher

My dad had a lot of stories about when he came to the United States. He was lucky to leave Germany in 1927, before Hitler came to power. He was a carpenter, and had heard from his father, who was already in the US, that there were lots of jobs over in this...

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Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

My father told me he had only cried two times in his life. The first time was after his voyage from Germany across the Atlantic. As his ship pulled into New York Harbor, he cried when he saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. The second time was when he got fired from his job at Curtiss-Wright, an American airplane manufacturer, the day the United States entered the Second World War. Even though he was a U.S. citizen, he was fired since he was German.

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The Garden of Second Chances

The Garden of Second Chances

I love gardens. I wish mine looked like the "Secret Garden" in the movie, with its climbing roses, vines and daffodils, but I've come to appreciate the succulents and bougainvillea of Southern California. The thing I like best about gardens is that they always give...

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Istanbul

Istanbul

  Rick Steves, the travel expert, wrote an editorial in the LA Times last year. His message was: "Afraid of terrorism? Get on a plane!" We are so bombarded by reports of terrorism that we forget that most people are just like us –– not just in the U.S., but all over...

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Empty Nest?

Empty Nest?

  My birds have gotten out of hand! I seem to be on the edge of ecological disaster in my backyard –– too many nests and species all crowding together. When my children left home, never to return –– as children ought to do –– I did feel like an empty-nester. But only...

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How does an atheist get through a traumatic experience?

How does an atheist get through a traumatic experience?

I had been a Catholic my whole life, and a nun for six of those years. It wasn’t until a mountain lion attacked my 5-year-old daughter, standing next to me in a stream, and almost killed her, that I wondered for the first time whether there was really a God. Once I asked that question, there was no going back.

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Hi, I’m Sue Mattern.

I always wanted to be defined by my music… and by my writing—something I accomplished artistically. But one spring Sunday in 1986, a new definition was suddenly written about me. I was the mother of a 5-year old girl who was attacked and almost killed by a mountain lion in Orange County.