Articles & Essays

Comments from Readers:

“Beautifully written and inspiring!”

“Thank you so much for your eloquent essay.”

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“Just read [your] article. . .wonderful and very well-written, expressed. YES!”


Published Articles and Essays

(Note:  the Citizen-Times columns are now readable in PDF form; also, some of the listed columns use my original titles)

“A weekly column on interfaith issues and the relationship of nonbelievers to communities of faith and to nature from Asheville’s Chris Highland” (USA Today)

Frederick Douglass on Religion and Discrimination (Citizen-Times) PDF

Secular Responses to Addiction (Citizen-Times) PDF

Strangers on the Road, a Parable (Citizen-Times) PDF

What We Bring to the Table is Important (Citizen-Times) PDF-p1, PDF-p2

When Suffering Comes to the Door (Citizen-Times) PDF

Walt Whitman: Model for Chaplains, Secular Saint (Citizen-Times) PDF

Mission Work, Compassion or Conversion (Citizen-Times) PDF

Facing Disasters with Faith or Without Faith (Citizen-Times) PDF

Blessed are the Poor? (Citizen-Times) PDF

So You Believe or Don’t Believe in God, Then What? (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Fiery Freethinking Gospel of Frances Wright (Citizen-Times) PDF

Theology for Beginners, Hints from Hindus (Citizen-Times) PDF

Seeing Through Stevie Wonder’s Eyes (Citizen-Times) PDF

An Incredulous Creed (Rational Doubt)

Awakening to Sabbath (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Interfaith Alternative (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Face of Nature (Citizen-Times) PDF

Proverbs from the Sea-Island Gullah (Citizen-Times) PDF

A Secular Crusade? (Citizen-Times) PDF

Is Your Family Divided By Faith? (Citizen-Times) PDF

Rivers Across the Religious Landscape (Citizen-Times) PDF

Does Nature Care? (Citizen-Times) PDF -corrections:  fourth paragraph should begin with “Pleased that I am now known. . .” and in the first paragraph of the last column the line should read “beauty, God or much good”

No Clergy Guilt for a Naturalist/Secular Chaplain (The Clergy Project blog)

Kitty Hawk, Curiosity and an Ethic of Care (Citizen-Times) PDF

Thoreau, Darwin and the Book of Nature (Citizen-Times) PDF

Ingersoll’s Middle Name was Green (Citizen-Times) PDF

What Does it Mean to Be a Religious Progressive? (Citizen-Times) PDF

Here We Sit:  The 500th Year of Luther’s Reformation (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Wisdom of Doubt (Citizen-Times) PDF

Francis of Assisi: Secular Saint? (Citizen-Times) PDF

In Whom Do We Trust? (Citizen-Times and Coloradoan) PDF

Naturally Curious, Children Ask Good Questions (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Heaven I Look For Now (Citizen-Times) PDF

The Nature of Humanism and Faith (Citizen-Times) PDF

Fostering Contemplation (Citizen-Times) PDF

Peeves, Goats and the Faith of Children (Citizen-Times) PDF

A Secular Reflection on Passover and Easter (Citizen-Times) PDF

Meditations of Robert Ingersoll, Part 4: “Fear” (North American Review)

Bridging the God-Gap (Citizen-Times) PDF

Welcoming People Not Like You (Citizen-Times PDF and USA Today)

Non-Fiction Book Review:  Manifold Nature (Rain Taxi)

Bridges to and from Belief (Citizen-Times) PDF

A Secular Jesus (Citizen-Times) PDF

Climbing Beyond Scripture (Citizen-Times) PDF and USA Today)

Meditations of Robert Ingersoll, Part 3: “An Equal Right to Be Wrong” (North American Review)

Faith and Frederick Law Olmsted (Citizen-Times) PDF

Freethinker’s Trek Through Spirituality, Mysticism and Nature (Rational Doubt)

Climbing Out of Hell (Citizen-Times) PDF

Shoes On, Shoes Off (Citizen-Times PDF and USA Today)

Nature Calls Us to Step Back, Consider (Citizen-Times) PDF

Meditations of Robert Ingersoll, Part 2: “A New, Secular Scripture” (North American Review)

One Nature Indivisible (Citizen-Times) PDF

A Religion of Freedom: Ingersoll’s Cane and Thomas Paine (North American Review)

Secular Prayer (Citizen-Times) PDF

When a Minister No Longer Believes–The Clergy Project (Citizen-Times) PDF

Meditations of Robert Ingersoll, Part 1: “A Church of the Future. . .Without God “(North American Review)

Do Holy Books Speak? (Citizen-Times) PDF

Ever Mindful of the Needs of Others (Citizen-Times) PDF

Give Fire to Your Dreams (Citizen-Times) PDF

Nailed to the Manger: A Christmas Baby Reflection (Patheos)

The Good Beyond Us and Them (Citizen-Times) PDF

Adopting the Bethlehem Baby (first printed in the Citizen-Times) PDF

Welcoming to a New State? (Rational Doubt)

Something is Broken in Religious Education (Citizen-Times) PDF-p1 PDF-p2

Giving Thanks–Without Religion (Citizen-Times) PDF

Can Secular People Also Have Devotion? (Citizen-Times) PDF

(My original letter to the editor of the Citizen-Times, August, 2016)

“I hope the column. . .by Chris Highland. . .is a harbinger of things to come.”

~Reader’s Letter to the Editor of the Citizen-Times

Beyond the Trumpery (Rational Doubt)

A Freethinker Returns to Seminary (State of Formation-Journal of Interreligious Dialogue)

“Secular Testimony” (The Clergy Project)

The New American Religion (Patheos)

Divorcing Spirituality (Patheos)

Why Isn’t Wonder Wonderful Enough? (Rational Doubt)

Why Progressive Faith Needs Progressive Secularism (Patheos)

Taking the Sacrament with John Muir (Patheos)

Climbing (not cutting) a Christmas Tree (Rational Doubt)

An Atheist at the Cross (Rational Doubt)

A Post-Supernatural View of Death (Patheos)

The Bible of Nature: A Scripture for Seculars (Realization)

Clergy Doubt (interview with Rational Doubt)

Seminary or Cemetery (Rational Doubt)

Leopard in a Minefield (Patheos)

Practicing Secular Chaplaincy (Rational Doubt)

Holy Babies (Faith Forward, Patheos)

Higher Trails (Ex-Christian Net)

John Muir Was a Pagan (Patheos)

Bless You!  The Last Blessing (State of Formation)

Proof of Heaven (State of Formation)

Why I Am a Freethinker (Faith Forward, Patheos)

The End of Spirituality (State of Formation)

Beyond Sectarianism (Patheos)

Praying Down the Tornado (State of Formation)

God in 100 Words (Patheos)

“Waterfall Spirituality” (Whidbey Island Record, interview)

Free to Be a Freespeaking Freethinker (Marin Interfaith Council blog)

Interfaith Marriage (Patheos, interview)

There’s Always that Beginning (SFTS Chimes, interview)

“Local Author Writes Two More Nature Books” (Whidbey Record, interview)

“Thoreau’s Teachings Still Inspire Many Lives” (USA Today, interview)

Rain and Need for Shelter Return (Marin Independent Journal)

End of Shelter. . .Closer to Home? (Marin Independent Journal)

Tam House Keeps the Light Burning (Marin Independent Journal)

Homelessness (Marin Independent Journal)


For More Essays by Chris Highland:

Selected Essays from the e-Book, Nature is Enough

9 thoughts on “Articles & Essays

    1. Thanks for the comment. You are correct that freethinking is not necessarily anti-faith, but Freethought tradition challenges orthodoxy and questions faith and theology, so I wouldn’t say it is “pro” faith or god. There is a primary agnostic position, which is the most reasonable, in my opinion. Glad you’re reading.

  1. Your column today on peeved goats and faith of children was spot on. When I had children and started to teach them the practice of kneeling by the bed for prayer each evening, I started to teach them the prayer I had recited as a child: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake,, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.” and it hit me: what a terrifying thought with which to end each day! No wonder I suffered from insomnia all my life!

    1. Thanks, Karolyn. Yes, it seems we need those “hit me” moments to wake up sometimes!
      Same prayer I recited as a child. Others tell me they were horrified too when the real message hit them.

  2. Re: “What if nature doesn’t care about us?”

    A very refreshing read. Nice to disconnect the frivolity of anthropomorphism from Earth’s activities and forces. Faith, in and of itself, is fine. It only becomes clouded and controversial when contaminated by organized religion and its dogmas. I am reminded of a cartoon by Wiley, the creator of Non Sequitur, showing the supreme deity gazing down on a turbulent Earth and saying, “That’s it. Lesson learned. Next time, no religion.”

    To say that the solar system and the vast, intricate, and expanding universe are stunning, is an obvious understatement — to say the least. We, intellectually lilliputian, short-term residents, of the planet, lack the depth of intelligence and mental power, in our present state of evolution, to grasp how this all came about. Given the current course of human events, it is unlikely that we will reach that understanding before we achieve our own extinction. That is a shame, because the odds against our having come into existence at all are truly astronomical. Homo sapiens really need to re-evaluate priorities.

    Thank you for your courage in publishing such clear, well thought out (albeit controversial) common sense articles. Nice to experience “thought freedom” so well articulated.

    1. Good to hear, and well said, Peter.
      Yes, it would be a shame if we didn’t learn our lessons and show human evolving.
      I figure that publishing more common sense, in the radical tradition of the writer of “Common Sense,” shall we say, makes sense!
      I appreciate your comment.

  3. In re your article “Theology for beginners, via Hndus,” your “summary of the world’s major religious philosophies” was cute. Even though you have handed in your membership card with Christian religion, I still see many echos of it in your writing. You probably know that there are many different kinds of yoga (cognate with “yoke”). The brand of yoga one practices reveals what your yoke to God is: Hatha yoga connects through the physical body; jnana yoga connects through knowledge and the mind; bhakti yoga is practicing devotion to God; nada yoga connects through sound/music; karma yoga is the path of unselfish action. Christianity falls very nicely into the karma yoga path, as the heavy emphasis on behavior suggests: what you do or don’t do foretells whether you go to heaven or hell. In my mind the two best features of Christianity are its call to forgiveness and charity. In your writing I often see your approval of such behavior. Perhaps you are a karma yogi? I recall one of my spiritual teachers explaining “guru” as G-U-R-U (Gee, you are you!)

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