Robert Hutchinson | Writer | Author | Beach Philosopher

Recent Columns & Essays

Peter Taught Marcus Who Taught Camillus Who Taught Quintus… Peter Taught Marcus Who Taught Camillus Who Taught Quintus…

In the 1980 film The Competition, starring Richard Dreyfus and Amy Irving, there is a scene that has always been a metaphor, for me, for how Christians come to know Jesus Christ. Sounds strange, I know, but bear with me a moment. In the film, Richard Dreyfus plays a talented but not quite top pier pianist desperate to win a major competition so he can become a professional musician. He does everything right: Practices compulsively, really knows his... [Read more of this post]

Why I Secretly Root for the Atheists in Debates Why I Secretly Root for the Atheists in Debates

Around 2008, after my book The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible came out, I was asked to fly to Ireland to participate in a debate on the existence of God at University College Cork. I had been doing radio interviews for my book and was very comfortable discussing some of the sillier arguments atheists use to attack Christianity or the Bible – for example, that the Bible is full of scientific “errors” and therefore is obviously complete... [Read more of this post]

Today’s Golden Age of Philosophy Today’s Golden Age of Philosophy

Few people know this, but our age is an amazing time for people who love philosophy. When I was in college 30 years ago, philosophy was strictly an academic exercise and there were few resources available for people, like me, who view philosophy more as a way of life or avocation than as a job. Today, however, all that has changed. There are three or four excellent “magazines” about philosophy – such as Philosophy Now and The Philospher’s... [Read more of this post]

Can a Faithful Christian be a Democrat, Republican or Green? Can a Faithful Christian be a Democrat, Republican or Green?

What’s a peaceful, freedom-loving, family-oriented, hard-working Christian guy to do with the current state of U.S. politics? For decades, now, it’s been obvious that even a moderately faithful Catholic cannot feel at home in any of the major, or even the minor, U.S. political parties. We are given the choice between an increasingly militaristic, even bellicose Republican Party that goes out of its way to sneer at civil liberties and enthusiastically... [Read more of this post]

Crunching the Obamacare Numbers:  A Lot More Money for A Lot Less Care Crunching the Obamacare Numbers: A Lot More Money for A Lot Less Care

Ready or not, Obamacare is finally here. Polls show that most Americans remain highly skeptical of the law’s benefits. According to a new CNN/ORC International survey released October 1, less than one in five Americans say their families will be better off under the new health care law. Nevertheless, the controversial law’s passionate defenders insist it represents an historic event. It extends health care coverage to between 10 and 35 million... [Read more of this post]

The American People Say:  You Fooled Us Once with Iraq… The American People Say: You Fooled Us Once with Iraq…

You know what they say:  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The American people have learned the hard way that US politicians in both political parties tend to passively defer to what the “experts” in the defense and intelligence sectors advise doing, often to the detriment of the country and of our standing in the world. The prime example of this is the reckless way the politicians accepted, without sufficient questioning,... [Read more of this post]

French Politicians Alarmed by “French Spring” Movement French Politicians Alarmed by “French Spring” Movement

The “French Spring” movement (le Printemps Français) has rattled the French political establishment – and even gay marriage advocates in faraway California. That’s because it calls into question the claim that same sex marriage is “inevitable” and opposition to it mere bigotry. In recent months, between 400,000 and a million demonstrators of all ages have crowded the streets of Paris and other large cities in France, loudly objecting... [Read more of this post]

How I Saw the Loch Ness Monster How I Saw the Loch Ness Monster

I never really expected to actually see the Loch Ness Monster. As a result, when I looked through the tour boat window out at the frigid waters of the loch and happened to spot “Nessie” cruising alongside with a little monster in tow, it was a startling moment. What made it more amazing was that I was gazing at the time at the radar scanner that the boat has in its main cabin. As it moves up and down the loch, this boat, and the other boats as... [Read more of this post]

My First Decade of Aikido My First Decade of Aikido

My knees are a bloody mess. It’s been a while since I did suwari-waza, the strange practice in traditional Aikido dojos of doing techniques, samurai-style, on your knees. Last week, the sensei spent almost the entire class doing suwari-waza and, when I stood up, the skin on my knees was entirely rubbed off. Ouch! And yet here it is, the following week, and I am showing up again. I took up Aikido ten years ago, at the ripe old age of forty, and... [Read more of this post]

Rob Bell Asks the Big Questions Ignored by Many Churches Rob Bell Asks the Big Questions Ignored by Many Churches

What I love most about Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011), is the way it has triggered a new debate about what is really at stake in Christianity. The odd thing about Christianity, at least in the United States, is that tens, even hundreds of millions of its adherents can’t really articulate its core beliefs beyond the most superficial, kindergarten... [Read more of this post]

Evolution, Creation and Adam & Eve, Part 1 Evolution, Creation and Adam & Eve, Part 1

The debate over Evolution, Creation and Adam and Eve is one of my least favorite topics.  That’s because I’ve accepted the theory of evolution ever since fourth grade, when it was first explained to me in science class by a Dominican nun. As a result, debating evolution feels a lot like debating the Pythagorean theorem: It’s something I studied 40 years ago… long ago accepted… but makes my head hurt even thinking... [Read more of this post]

The Power of Habits to Transform Your Life The Power of Habits to Transform Your Life

One of my favorite gurus is a fairly recent one: Leo Babauta, the young founder of the Zen Habits website and the author of numerous books on simple living, getting things done and living a mindful life. I discovered Leo about a year after he launched his website in 2007, and I was hooked. He is an odd combination of classical western wisdom (Aristotle for Pete’s sake!) and contemporary, web-savvy modern living. The father of six kids and a born... [Read more of this post]

Why We Need Both Orthodoxy and Spiritual Cosmopolitanism Why We Need Both Orthodoxy and Spiritual Cosmopolitanism

The photo above is of the main Bahai Temple in Haifa, Israel, one of the most beautiful religious structures in the world. It shines like a beacon on Mt. Carmel, a veritable symbol of spiritual cosmopolitanism and religious tolerance. I visited the Bahai Temple many times when I lived in Israel. It just looms above Haifa. I thought of all this when my son and I visited a Bahai community that just happens to be located less a mile from our house in... [Read more of this post]

Finding a Balance Between Work and Leisure Finding a Balance Between Work and Leisure

I’ve been fortunate, over the years, because I have discovered a number of gurus who have cautioned me about indulging a monomaniacal commitment to work at all costs – especially when it involves a neglect of what really matters in life, such as anniversaries, soccer games and swim meets, school plays, sex in the afternoon, History Day competitions, Rock for Peace concerts, picnics, days at the beach, swimming, Aikido seminars, reading, Mass,... [Read more of this post]

Why Parents Drag Their Kids to Church, Temple or Their Zen Sitting Group Why Parents Drag Their Kids to Church, Temple or Their Zen Sitting Group

Here’s what sucks about life: You wake up in your crib, confused and more than a little dazed, and then spend the next 20 or 30 years trying to figure out what to do with yourself. You mostly do what you’re told. You learn how to read, play sports, try to attract members of the opposite sex. In your 20s, you look for some kind of job – and maybe decide to settle down, get married and have kids. But life, as they say, doesn’t exactly come... [Read more of this post]

How to Muddle Through in Life How to Muddle Through in Life

In the end, life is about muddling through as best you can. Most self-help books (and I read a lot of them) will advise you to find your “life’s purpose and passion,” but that’s like telling you the secret to success in business is to found a good company and make lots of money. The devil is in the details. If I had to summarize all that I have learned about making your way on the path of life, however, I think it would come down to just... [Read more of this post]

A Routine Near-Death Experience… and a Rumor of Angels A Routine Near-Death Experience… and a Rumor of Angels

Two days ago, I was almost killed in an instant. I had one of those experiences that shake you to your very core – and which, to me, constitute some sort of proof of divine providence. It was a very ordinary day. I drove my son to the beach train for his daily trip up the coast to high school. My wife had given me some money and asked me to stop at the store to pick up some sour cream. We were having chicken fajitas for dinner, and one of my kids... [Read more of this post]

How to Be Happy in Life How to Be Happy in Life

There are many different ways of life, of course, and each person has to choose the way that fits his or her personality and intuitions about what life is all about and how to be happy. There is the way of the adventurer. The way of the businessman. The way of the scholar or priest. There is the way of the artist or mystic. There is even Gurdjieff’s Way of the Sly Man, the secret mystic who lives like an ordinary business man. But because... [Read more of this post]

Why Newt Gingrich is a False Messiah Why Newt Gingrich is a False Messiah

Like most people who enjoy frank and intelligent conversation, I like Newt Gingrich. He is smart, knowledgeable, intelligent to a fault, every bit the history professor he once was. I first saw him, more than 18 years ago, at a gathering of conservative activists in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. He mesmerized the audience then just as he mesmerizes growing numbers of Republicans today. Republicans are so grateful to have someone in their... [Read more of this post]

Video:  Avon Descent Video: Avon Descent

One of my favorite gurus, Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler, demonstrates what you can do with your spare time if you don’t waste so much energy on work, paying taxes and doing what everyone tells you. An awesome achievement pulled off at the last minute! This was the 2011 Avon Descent, the only white water race of its kind in the world.  Read More →

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