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Informed Personalities from Across the State, Across the Spectrum
Cary McMullen's picture
"By training and inclination, I am drawn to questions of faith, and many of my columns will address religious beliefs, especially Christian beliefs, and how they are expressed in the public sphere. I’m a follower of politics, with sympathies toward the center and skepticism toward all sides. I’m keenly interested in education and an amateur critic of the fine arts. My goal is for readers to apply the label 'thought-provoking' to whatever I write."
Wednesday, November 07, 2012 — Cary McMullen

A harrowing recent series in the Tampa Bay Times detailed how for 30 years a handful of homes for troubled youth have used a misguided exemption in Florida law to get away with all manner of abuses by using religion as a shield.

These homes have gone unregulated because of a 1984 provision that removes religious homes from state oversight and places them under what is essentially a self-...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 — Cary McMullen

Several ill-advised proposals to amend the state constitution are on the ballot next week, and one of them would do away with Florida’s so-called Blaine Amendment that forbids state money from being used for “sectarian” purposes.

“Sectarian” refers among other things to religious matters, and this proposal, Amendment 8, taps into a complicated history.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012 — Cary McMullen

I’m sitting in a comfortable chair with a libation watching Prince Fielder catch a pop-up and then the delirious celebration. It’s going to be a chilly World Series in Detroit.

When the Tigers come here to Lakeland for spring training, the announcer always makes a point of telling the short-sleeved crowd the temperature back in Detroit – 46 degrees, 52, something like that.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012 — Cary McMullen

It’s hard to explain to high school kids today, but there was a time when teenagers were conscripted -- against their wills -- into military service and sent halfway around the world into live-fire combat zones that make Afghanistan look like a training exercise.

I faced that prospect. Reports of full-on battles in jungle terrain against trained, regimental-strength troops have a way of focusing...

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 — Cary McMullen

In his excellent new book, “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics,” Ross Douthat describes how the heresy of nationalism – idolizing the nation – has rendered American religious groups captive to partisan politics.

“If you don’t want to vote for George W. Bush because of the Iraq War then you’re playing into the hands of Christianity’s left-wing enemies. If you can’t vote for Barack...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 — Cary McMullen

Forgiveness is an increasingly rare quality these days. We live in an age that seems to have lost the capacity to forgive. The demand instead is for justice in as harsh terms as possible, for the redressing of wrongs.

So when someone, especially a public figure, asks for forgiveness, often the response is a resounding “No! Let ’em get what they deserve.” And that brings us to the curious case of Todd Akin.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012 — Cary McMullen

During the annual meeting of the Florida United Methodist Conference in June, a wickedly satirical video was shown poking good-natured fun at retiring Bishop Timothy Whitaker, a mild-mannered intellectual who reads books on fifth-century Trinitarian theology for fun.

The “farewell address” portrayed an unbridled Whitaker daydreaming about a...

Friday, July 27, 2012 — Cary McMullen

It’s interesting to contrast reactions to two judgments handed down this week for nearly identical crimes. The reactions speak volumes about our priorities.

On Monday, the NCAA announced Penn State would be fined $60 million, lose football scholarships and be banned from bowl games for four years for the institution’s failure to report child sex abuse that officials – including head football coach Joe...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 — Cary McMullen

If you are Episcopalian, liturgy is a big deal. Some in the church are still mad that the Book of Common Prayer, first composed by Henry VIII’s archbishop in the 16th century, was modified about 30 years ago.

Last week the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Indianapolis, approved a liturgy to bless the unions of same-sex couples. The approval had several caveats attached. It is...

Thursday, July 05, 2012 — Cary McMullen

It’s a measure of how confused our society is these days that the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on unlikely grounds by an unlikely majority. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, not Justice Anthony Kennedy, a centrist, sided with the liberal justices. And the law was valid not by virtue of the Constitution’s commerce clause, Roberts said in his opinion, but because penalties for not having insurance are really a tax, which falls within Congress’ powers.