Okay, it’s deep winter. The snow has turned crusty and brown. The sky is grey. The ice is black. We need a bit of color and light.

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Sorry folks, all I have to offer is the ugliest house in Cambridge.


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It’s been more than twenty years now since I heard Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie deliver a sermon at the Arlington Street Church in Boston titled ‘Would You Rather Be Happy or Be Right?’ The distinctions she laid out on that sunny Sunday morning have stayed with me ever since. Given Reverend Crawford Harvie’s generous perspective, and the Unitarian-Universalist penchant for relativism, she did not make a definitive claim in favor of one perspective over another. However, by questioning the absolutism inherent in the word ‘right,’ she leaned heavy in the direction of happiness.

At that time I was impressed, and…


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They’re the most dependable ones. The cancer patients. Arriving at the same time each week, head wrapped in a turban or scarf, checking in before chemotherapy. Or worse, hobbling in daily for three, four, five weeks straight to receive radiation. One might think they’d be most irritated by the three screening questions I’m required to ask everyone who enters the building. No, they haven’t been outside of Massachusetts in the past two weeks; they’re too ill to go anywhere but here. No, they haven’t been around anyone who’s tested positive; they’re too vulnerable to see any one any way. …


Which definition best describes what occurred at the US Capitol on January 6:

A. An act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government

B. Needless or willful damage or violence

C. A sudden decisive exercise of force in politics especially: the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group

These are three definitions from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary of words that express various forms of unrest.

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If you selected ‘B’ you are in agreement with The Boston Globe’s recent headline, which describes the actions of January 6 as ‘mayhem.’ …


When this ‘Lefties are Nazi’s’ post appeared on my Facebook wall, I realized that extreme labels, stripped of their actual definition, retain only the power to divide and offend. I cannot provide any reasoning to this conflagration of errant history and twisted tongue. Instead, I offer this parody, based on “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” from Avenue Q. Enjoy!

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Steve McQueen. Not the bad-boy race car driver from The Great Escape, idolized by all guys over sixty for nabbing Ali MacGraw. The other Steve McQueen (officially Sir Steven Rodney McQueen CBE). The twenty-first century British filmmaker of Grenadian and Trinidadian descent who’s the polar opposite of last millennium Steve. Where American Steve McQueen is all frenzied pursuit, British Steve McQueen delivers deep stillness. His camera sits patient, documenting a passive black face so long, the inner rage rises through the skin and pierces our soul.


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“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

On this day of our nation’s rockiest Presidential Inauguration, I turn my thoughts to John Adams.

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”

George Washington served as our first President for eight years, so popular he could have continued on forever, yet he established the precedent of two terms and a graceful hand-off to…


September 10, 2020

Cambridge, MA

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A chilly drizzle sprinkles discomfort over our Black Lives Matter evening vigil. The number of people taking a knee since late May has shriveled to five. My meditation wanders from the horror of Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pinching George Floyd’s neck to whether — or why — we should keep this going. Gone are the halcyon summer days with dozens of kneelers, a parade of encouraging car horns, accolades from people of color, spontaneous applause. Summer’s collective energy has morphed into quiet persistence. …


This is the letter I sent to my Representative and Senators regarding the Capitol insurrection on January 6. Feel free to use any or all portions with which you concur in reaching out to your own elected officials.

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January 10, 2020

Dear Senators Markey and Warren; Representative Clark,

What we allow, we enable.

We allowed domestic terrorists to storm our Capitol. We allowed them to disrupt a peaceful government process. We allowed them to enter, deface, and ransack out nation’s most prominent public symbol.

It is only dumb luck for us that they were so disorganized. They had no real…


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A tall elderly man approaches the desk. Patrician in bearing, not a millimeter lost to the gravity of age.

“I’d like to find out how to get the vaccine.”

“Do you work at the hospital, sir?”

“No, but I’m seventy-five.”

“At this time, the hospital administers vaccines to health-care workers according to the governor’s priorities.”

“But I’d like to get one.”

“I suggest you review the guidelines to find your priority. Perhaps you can contact your physician.”

The gentleman gives me a look I’ve seen before, though usually from immigrants or non-English speakers, folks unfamiliar with American culture. A bafflement…

Paul E. Fallon

Seeking balance in a world of opposing tension

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