Category Archives: A Rational Woman

What If It’s Now or Never?

Grim ReaperI used to keep a New Yorker cartoon taped to my printer. It showed a hooded death figure, scythe in hand, standing next to a writer seated at a typewriter. The caption was something like “Oh good, I’m glad you’re here. I can never get anything done without a deadline.”

I don’t think many of us can be quite content, much less happy, if we’re … Read more

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9 Insights into the (Misnamed) Pro-Life Movement

Whthoughtful womany, after all these years, are we still talking, reading, and writing about why abortion should (or shouldn’t) be legal? In the United States, at least, so long as a woman’s right to control her own body is under threat, we must continue to have this discussion and tell our stories.

Katha Pollitt, author, essayist, poet, and long-time columnist for The Nation, … Read more

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12 Ways to Raise a Savvy Skeptic

curious kidSkepticism is sometimes given a bad rap.

Skeptical doesn’t mean cynical. Raising your kids to be mindful, to question, to apply critical thinking to ideas that are popular in the culture (often undeservedly), will help them become more informed and woo-averse adults. So how do you raise a little Bright?


1. Teach your child to see everything in new Read more

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The Truth About Getting Older

old people signIt’s said that age is just a number. Sure it is. But I wonder why that number, the one that implies, “Now you’re actually old,” varies so widely among individuals.

My husband Stephen and I are both in our 60s. Yet often (too often) he says to me, “We’re old now.” With our four parents aged 85, 89, 89, and 90, I refute his … Read more

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The End is Near

cherry tomatoesThe following narrative is closely based on a deeply moving conversation I had with “Knut,” an elementary schoolmate whom I’d never forgotten, and with whom I managed to get back in touch just as he was facing his mortality. In this novel excerpt, the grieving narrator, an atheist, is trying to decide her own future.

Knut lives in a fatigued yellow wood-frame bungalow with windows … Read more

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The 9 Commandments

10 CommandmentsSay it’s an extremely hot day, and you’re out in the sun and get a vision. Metaphorically, of course. You ponder what might be on the tablets you’d bring down from a mountain to share with the world, your own version of the ten commandments. Because, obviously, only about four of the so-called Biblical commandments have any value whatsoever in a rational world.

So make … Read more

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What’s a Flower For?

flowersNot very long ago, when I went to our local post office to buy a couple of rolls of stamps, I noticed a display of flower stamps. Putting my mouth close to the inch-thick partition, I asked the postal clerk, “Do you have those? My husband loves flowers.”

Reaching for the little booklets of stamps imprinted colorfully with lilies, zinnias, gladioli, marigolds, and roses, the … Read more

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6 Silly Things You Shouldn’t Do

silly emuEven the most psychologically and philosophically aware among us make mistakes. As a Bright, I believe that most of us aim to behave rationally most of the time. So how come we sometimes act in mindless ways that aren’t in our best interests?

Here are some ideas for bringing daily actions more in line with a belief in rationality:


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3 New Books Brights Might Like

bright girl readingI’ve made a point lately of seeking out signs of religious belief or its lack in the main characters of books I read. More and more I’m noticing signs of characters (and one would think their authors) coming out on the Bright side. At least in the sort of literary novels (and memoirs of literary novelists) I tend to favor.

While I certainly don’t read … Read more

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This Will Solve the Middle East Crisis

medieval warriorIn a recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Daniel Sokatch and David N. Myers wrote

Israel has been beset by a pair of controversies relating to its Arab minority: first, the proposal over whether to resettle Bedouin Arabs against their will in state-sponsored towns, and second, the renewed call by Israel’s foreign minister to “transfer” Arab residents of northern Israel to a

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