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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Faith and Values: Christmas that’s ends-based far more satisfying

So I’ve been mulling over whether to even address a certain holiday, only a few days away, that I think most folks are looking forward to. Why, it’s Godless Capitalism Day, when we celebrate rampant consumerism with the goal of propping up a shaky economy by collectively sinking ever deeper into debt ourselves. This is a Great Good. It’s only why, after all, we’re called “consumers” and not “citizens.” Oops, that’s not much in keeping with the holiday spirit, is it? And I recall that some folks do actually call it “Christmas” and approach the day in a different manner than we godless heathens do.

The son of God was a contrarian from birth

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a yearlong series of letters Paul Graves has written to his grandchildren. They are based on the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

TV star’s struggle is a lesson for all

From an unlikely place comes a lesson in Christianity, conscience and compromise. Angus T. Jones, 19, the young star of the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” has stirred the pot in both Hollywood and Christian circles by declaring his own show “filth” and encouraging people not to watch it.

Letting go can serve as reminder of being forgiven

Editor’s note: This is the 10th in a 12-part series of letters Paul Graves is writing to his grandchildren in 2012. They are based on the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Dear Katie, Claire and Andy,

Faith and Values: Some provocative thoughts – to distract from the election

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally done with this election. By way of relief, I’d like to just put out a few random humanist-oriented thoughts from a file of ideas that I keep, so that you can focus your irritation on me instead of the candidates. Agree, disagree, I don’t care, but it’ll give you something to think about besides how doomed we are if Obama/Romney is elected. Humanism is self-derived, and to the degree that it is a belief system, it is provisional and incomplete, always subject to change as new views of the world provide new ways of seeing.

Giving of yourself can help you lose your ‘self’

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a 12-part series of letters Paul Graves is writing to his grandchildren in 2012. They are based on the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

We all have room to become better followers

Now that both Democratic and Republican presidential conventions are behind us, a little self-reflection is in order. Both candidates made a case for how they’ll deliver what we all seem to want: lower taxes, improved public services, enhanced national image and, in short, a better life for all.

Define wealth: earth’s bounty or Gucci?

A book, a newspaper article and my garden gave me the idea for this column; what I have in mind is a series of observations, based upon life as I know it, juxtaposed against, well, lives so beyond my ken that they may as well belong to another species. I just picked the last of our blueberries, no more than a large handful, and they’re done. Not as many as last year, but not bad. On the other hand, our raspberries were excellent. Tons of cherries, as usual, and the apples and plums are looking good. Our biggest grapevine – a Blue Seedless Glenora – is just loaded, and the transplanted Concord (grapevines don’t like to be dug up) is healthy again and starting to produce. The Canadice? Well, it’s not its fault that it has to grow out from under the shade.

Reveal God with comfort, understanding

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a 12-part series of letters Paul Graves is writing to his grandchildren in 2012. They are based on the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Dear Katie, Claire and Andy,

Counter sadness with joy

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of letters Paul Graves is writing to his grandchildren about St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace. Dear Katie, Claire and Andy,

On GGG&A, we all need to take the high ground

I don’t know much, certainly not the mind of the God whose very existence I doubt, never mind figuring out how he picks sides. So, when the whole GGG&A deal gets going again – like when a presidential election campaign is gearing up – I wonder if there’s any hope at all for us to grow up and address matters of real import. Oh, you know what GGG&A is: God, guns, gays and abortion. I may not know much but I can tell you a few things that I’m quite sure of. First, because no one is ever going to be elected to a high office in this country without professing a belief in God, it’s a sure thing that going for the high ground, so to speak, will continue to be a key tactical move forever, world without end, amen.

Rituals reminders of God’s hope for us

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of letters Paul Graves is writing to his grandchildren about St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace.

Gay marriage offers a moral litmus test

That loud crash you heard Wednesday was the sound of President Barack Obama’s gay-marriage stance colliding with the will of the people, his Christian faith and common sense. Obama has used the bully pulpit of the presidency to shout over the strong voices of opposition to gay marriage. Consider the evidence: In 32 states that have considered resolutions protecting traditional marriage, they’ve passed 32 times.

Donald Clegg: Loss stirs memories of beloved pets

I’ve got dogs, cats and a possum in mind: Pete, George, Minou and now Ellie. The possum was nameless, as were the other small critters that my brother and I interred in our little pet cemetery in the field across the street, by the creek where we caught crawdads and got leeches. (You burn ’em with a match and they let go.) We cared for the possum as best we could but it was dead in a day. Ellie, our eldest cat, died on Jan. 14, about 9 in the morning, after only a couple of hours of – I’m guessing – a stroke-induced fugue where she staggered around the basement, finally settling on a rug in the corner to wait for her last breath. She was a ripe old 17 (85 in people years), and well-loved despite being a cantankerous, grumpy gal most of her life.

Weather, three-pointers, Tributes: It’s all about the money

I’ve got this, that, and the other on my mind. None are worth a full column, but all have been begging for a mention, so here we go. Expect no theme. As I’m writing this, the Final Four is later today, but isn’t the real March madness our ongoing monsoon? Enough already, I’m tired of bordering-on-giddy weather babes pronouncing the New! Record! Rainfall!

Bridge of trust can help heal discord

Dear Katie, Claire and Andy, As we continue on this long journey into St. Francis’ Prayer of Peace, I invite you on a little detour. There is another version of the prayer that is also good to pray. It is used by the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, in the “11th Step” of their 12-Step program of recovery.

Orphanage reveals the benefits of focusing on what is right

KOTTAYAM, India – Perspective is everything. My friend Johnson Mathew demonstrates this truth as he shows me around his small plot of land in Kottayam, India. The din of children playing cricket nearby threatens to interrupt, but for now he is showing off a long-uncompleted expansion to his orphanage.