There’s a weird advice-columnist habit.

Go to any hip, forward-thinking online publication and look over their advice columns. It’s mostly what you’d expect: etiquette, “self-care,” and injunctions to stop keeping secrets from your spouse. Run-of-the-mill agony-aunt fare, not so different from “Dear Abby” or “Miss Manners.”

But if someone writes in with a serious problem, they get two answers instead of one. The columnist makes their suggestion, but also says, “You should talk to a therapist about this.” The psychotherapist has the real answers. …


Back when I practiced it, we didn’t call it “cancel culture.”

More than a decade ago, it wasn’t even “call-out culture” yet. My friends and I just called it “being an intersectional feminist.” We ran on moral outrage — our morality versus both the Christian Right and its moderate-liberal enablers. More than anything else, it was the other side’s hypocrisy that rankled us. How dare they call themselves “values voters” and “believers in traditional morality” when they were thrilled to get to mistreat immigrants, gays, women, and the poor? Where did they get off, claiming to represent a universal tradition…


I don’t remember the first time I learned about Hell.

Maybe it was at Sunday school. Maybe it was at home, when my parents read out loud from the book of Bible stories for children, with illustrations by children (“just like you!” the cover promised). The Devil, red and angular, drawn in crayon by a six-year-old just like me, was a living presence in my world. He lived in Hell — a physical place, a region of the universe just like the neighbor kids’ backyard or my classroom at school or the asteroid belt out in space.

Hell terrified me…


I transitioned back in the Aughts. Most of the cisgender people in my life were baffled. I remember a good friend, a cis man who always expressed support for my choice and never said a hateful word, still admitting it really made no sense to him. He simply could not grasp the impulse. But that wasn’t an issue between us. After all, I was the one transitioning, not him. Wherever my need to do so came from, it wasn’t any threat to him. We remained friends because we had a baseline of trust. He knew I wasn’t bothered by his…


Last night, I was listening to an ex-Evangelical friend talk about her upbringing. She explained how she used to believe that earth was such a horrible and unpleasant place. She wanted so badly for the world to end. She couldn’t wait to die, because what was there for her here?

Now, as an adult, she doesn’t think her younger self was precisely wrong — at least not in the factual sense. After all, she can still see famines, wars, diseases, and poverty. She still recognizes that the amount of suffering in the world is immense, and that plenty of that…


What are you physically made of?

Every time you breathe in, your lungs transfer the air’s oxygen into your bloodstream. Your red blood cells trade it out for carbon dioxide. When you breathe out, that carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere. It finds its way to the leaves of plants. They take it in and exhale oxygen, which completes the cycle by returning to your lungs. The molecules they produce become part of your body. The molecules you produce become part of theirs.

When you drink water, it enters your cells, replenishing the moisture lost through sweat and saliva. When you…

Source: AP News

Does Donald Trump literally believe that he won re-election?

When he claimed victory on Election Night, he knew not enough votes had been counted to determine a winner. He’d watched months of polling consistently show Biden ahead, and history demonstrates that the incumbent party almost never wins in the middle of a recession. He also knew that the still-uncounted mail ballots would lean heavily Democratic. (For that matter, he himself was mostly responsible for that fact. What did he expect to happen after he spent weeks discouraging his supporters from voting by mail?) Further, he knows that there’s no actual…


Climate change is frying the planet. One lying, war-loving, rapist president is about to get replaced with another one. The pandemic has killed more than a million people worldwide. It will likely kill many thousands more before a vaccine makes it into production. The economic crisis it’s sparked will burn the poor and the precarious for years to come.

The world feels like it’s falling to pieces. It’s little wonder that the last decade has seen the predominant Millennial/Gen Z mood shift from bright-eyed enthusiasm to gloom. Anxiety and depression are spiking in tandem with mass indebtedness and unemployment. Why…


You can’t get away from nature.

The ancient pagan philosophy of Stoicism teaches that a good life comes from acting in harmony with nature. If you understand how the world works and apply that insight to your conduct, you won’t take setbacks to heart. Neither will success distort your thinking and throw you off-kilter. Living according to nature creates a state of flourishing, where other people and chance events don’t govern your well-being. You begin to exercise your inherent human capabilities to the fullest — you bloom into the person of excellence that you’re meant to be.

What the Stoics…


I know several adults who aren’t sure whether they were raised Pagan.

Their parents weren’t Wiccan initiates or members of any Pagan organizations. They didn’t explicitly self-identify as Pagan, but they didn’t describe themselves as non-Pagan, either. And every year, they celebrated the Solstices and Equinoxes at home, taught their children that nature was sacred and that divinity need not be only masculine, and made use of Pagan parenting materials (especially Starhawk’s Circle Round).

Paganism is a broad, loose movement. The edges aren’t cleanly defined. Where, exactly, does Paganism end? Where do the New Age movement, feminist and environmentalist culture…

Sophia Burns

Pagan theology & virtue ethics. Patreon: Old writing:

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