Russell E. Saltzman is a former Lutheran pastor, transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

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Impeach Obama 2014

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I cannot think of anything more disastrous for the Republican Party than an attempt to impeach the president. Yet there are scenarios being put forth, along with what I regard as a lot of irresponsibly loose talk, some of it getting ginned up by Democrats. . . . Continue Reading »

The Selfie Presidency

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Though I didn’t vote for President Obama I was unusually happy for his election. To me it said many good things about America. While his speaking ability was possibly the best since Ronald Reagan (whose speaking ability was the best since John F. Kennedy), I thought his small business tax policy, as he explained it to Sam Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber), was appalling. I didn’t much like his notions on a lot of other issues either, starting with questions over abortion, but to be honest, I really wanted a reason to for vote for him. . . . Continue Reading »

What If We Are Alone in the Universe?

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A new study suggests there are 8.8 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Habitable is defined by, among other things, the Goldilocks zone, that magical narrow band of space extending around a sun where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold, where water can exist as a liquid. . . . Continue Reading »

What Ancient Astronauts Teach Us

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Once I served a parish where we had enough guys swept up in ancient astronaut fantasies to have started our own MUFON chapter. I enjoyed things from the fringe, but one guy in particular was a true believer, if not a proselytizer: UFOs are real; there is every reason to accept the ancient astronaut “theory” and, importantly, no reason not to; the universe is simply brimming with intelligent life. He was a fellow Trekkie so I did try to go easy on him . . . Continue Reading »

Disturbances on the Left

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Maybe Clark Kent misses them, but I don’t: phone booths. They were a bane in my left-handed life, one of those countless petty irritations left-handed people encounter in a right-handed world. Lots of little things still exist telling me I am left-handed, but only phone booths went out of their way to try and kill me… . Continue Reading »

Lazarus at Blue Ridge

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The panhandler was at the I-470 exit at Blue Ridge Boulevard when I first saw him. That’s about 101st Street on Kansas City’s Southside. He looked bad. Unkempt, he was holding a makeshift sign with a typical message, and trying to make eye contact with people who did not want to make eye contact with him. I was in no position to stop and wave the usual dollar kept on hand for such encounters… . Continue Reading »

Dream a Little Dream of Me

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Last Monday night I dreamed I drove Richard Nixon to the Kansas City International Airport after he’d delivered a speech in KC. I had offered him our guest room to stay the night, but”despite his schmaltzy cocker spaniel speech in 1952”he apologetically claimed a pet allergy and could not possibly abide our cocker spaniel, though he was certain she was a charming and disciplined animal. She isn’t, but in a dream many things are dreamlike… . Continue Reading »

Jenifer Estess, R.I.P.

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Jenifer Estess died of A.L.S., Lou Gherig’s disease, on December 23, 2003, nearly ten years ago now, at the age of forty. Before last week I never had any reason to seek an obituary for her. But I did and I found it. Finding it came with an inexplicable sense of loss… . Continue Reading »

We Must Learn to Be a Minority

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Former First Things editor Joseph Bottum’s Commonweal essay, “The Things We Share: A Catholic’s Case for Same Sex Marriage,” left me puzzled at first. I am pretty certain neither friends nor opponents can really grasp quite what he is after with only one reading. Blame him for that… . Continue Reading »

All Happy Families are Unalike

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Ah, the winsome sounds of a grandson in meltdown sweep up to my study and inspire this reflection. I did not find it quite so irritating, I do not think, when the child that became his mother was doing the same thing at age four. In any case, he is learning: The sufferings of life begin early… . Continue Reading »