What was so dangerous about Spinoza's ideas that he was ex-communicated for them?

San Quentin Prison Report: A nephew's forgiveness

Sep 3, 2015
Post News Group

In this segment from the San Quentin Prison Report, reporter Tommy Shakur-Ross tells a story about the unexpected bonds that can exist between inmates. 

ABDUL RAHIM:  He looked up; his eyes full of tears and he just told me how sorry he was and I could see it.  I could feel it. 

Click hear for more stories from the San Quentin Prison Report.

Alyssa Kapnik Samuel

In many African American communities, mental health issues have a history of being undertreated and underdiagnosed. According to the federal government’s Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, but less likely to seek treatment.

This is part three of a three-part series addressing mental health care within black communities.

Hands are clapping, children are bobbing their heads and most of the elders are wearing their finest hats and polished shoes at the New Revelation Community Church. Reverend Donna Allen leads a sermon.

“And this notion of law enforcement interacting with people with lethal force? Jesus would cry out, ‘I am the Prince of Peace and I tell you, no justice, no peace, no justice!’”

Hana Baba

About 20 Muslim families are gathered on a hilltop outside the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, just after sunset. A water fountain bubbles, women and men chat, kids run around with snacks in their hands, and everyone at some point or another, looks up to the sky. They are moonsighting, scanning the sky for the new crescent moon that will signify the beginning of the month, Ramadan. 

Courtesy of Dan Harper

Sacred Harp singing is considered to be one of the oldest forms of American folk music. It dates back to the 1700s, to a choral style that developed in the churches of colonial New England, but eventually took root in the South. It’s a participatory tradition, which means that singers perform for themselves, not for an audience. Today, Sacred Harp is experiencing something of a renaissance, some even characterize it as the punk rock of choral music.

Thomas Walden Levy

The Spiritual Edge is a new reporting project from KALW that explores innovation in religious belief and practice in the Bay Area.  And as we plan the next stage of the project's development, we want your ideas and input.

By answering this brief survey, you'll discover the diverse stories that this project has already told, and help shape the future direction of The Spiritual Edge. Thank you!


Elizabeth Beltran-Larios struggled with her identity for much of her childhood. Beltran-Larios was born in Oakland, but she was raised in a small town south of Jalisco, Mexico. Growing up, she felt alienated from the Catholic church because of her sexual orientation. Her exposure to Buddhism in college helped her come to terms with who she is and what she believes. She sat down in the StoryCorps booth to share her story of this transformation.


Belief in God is thought by many to be the only possible source of morality, such that without a God, “everything is permitted.” Yet godlessness is on the rise in the West, with figures like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss leading the “New Atheism” movement. But if atheism is defined by its lack of belief, where do these non-believers find guiding principles? Are there any positive beliefs or values that atheists have in common? If so, are they based on a rational, scientific framework, or must non-believers, like believers, ultimately rely on faith?

Philosophy Talk asks: Why (not) believe in an afterlife?

Jan 9, 2015

The question of what happens to us after we die remains as mysterious now as it always was. Some think that death amounts to total annihilation of the self; others adhere to certain religious traditions, which teach that the immaterial soul (and, in some traditions, the resurrected body) can ultimately survive death. So how are we to judge between these radically different views of what happens to us in death? What would it mean for the self to persist beyond the destruction of the body? Is there room in a scientific account of the mind for the existence of an immaterial soul?

Hana Baba

While the majority of the world’s Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th, a number of Orthodox sects follow an older-than-Gregorian calendar. They celebrate every year on January 7th. 

Stopping Workplace Harassment Because of Race, National Origin, Religion.
Guests:  Phil Horowitz, an Advisor to the Executive Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar; Employment Law attorney Maribel Hernandez.
Listeners with questions for Chuck's guests please call 415-841-4134.

Supersurvivors - Growing from Adversity

Sep 11, 2014


Michael Pisais

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church sits on a quiet residential corner in the outer Sunset district of San Francisco. Upstairs in a meeting room, a small group is gathered around rectangular folding tables to sing Grace before they eat. The sound of a sweetly harmonized “Amen” floats up to the rafters of the high-ceilinged room.

Church members gather every week for a potluck dinner with their pastor-- to share food, fellowship, and spiritual conversation. The group has an easy familiarity with each other; most of the congregants are older folks who have lived in the neighborhood a long time, and have been going to this church for decades. As they eat dinner, Pastor Megan Rohrer plays a contemporary pop song as a launch pad for discussion.

Some heads nod to the beat, but it’s clear that this kind of music isn’t the normal fare for this group. The room is filled with graying heads. Then, there’s the 34-years-young pastor, who stands out for another reason, too.


These days, a lot of people prefer the word “spirituality” over “religion”. Many people associate religion with dogma handed down by inflexible institutions that don’t keep up with the times. 

The Marsh- SF


Dezi Gallegos is a playwright who is searching for God. He's only 18 years old, but says he's already lived through numerous tough life experiences that led to him asking the question: is there a loving God? And if so, why are these bad things  plagues, he calls them  happening to me and my family? 

At the Seams: Eli Conley's "folk songs for misfits"

Sep 12, 2013
Sarah Deragon

Eli Conley sings of love, prisons, coal mining, religion, homophobia and leaving Virginia on his new CD At The Seams, an album he calls "modern-day folk songs for misfits." Hear Eli's music and his chat with Out in the Bay host Eric Jansen about his life, his songwriting and how he helps other transgender singers find their voices. 

Radio Ambulante: El chamán / The Shaman

May 13, 2013
Flickr user AnnGrlk / CC License

The intense winter rains of 2011 left thousands of Colombians flooded out of their homes and claimed hundreds of lives. That same year, a man named Jorge Elías González became infamous for taking public money to keep the skies clear over Bogotá. Melba Escobar tells us his story.

Las intensas lluvias del invierno del 2011 dejaron a miles de colombianos sin casas y cientos de muertos. Ese mismo año, un hombre llamado Jorge Elías González se volvió famoso por cobrar dineros públicos para mantener el cielo de Bogotá despejado. Melba Escobar nos cuenta su historia.

photo by Stuart Locklear

Meet Bay Area-bred singer, songwriter and keyboard player Mark Etheredge and collaborator Michael Cronin, who play in San Francisco  Saturday, and hear their latest music on this week's Out in the Bay.  Mark has just released his first CD, Change Coming,  featuring a wide range of songs about life and love, from the upbeat and humorous "Hot Tub" and "Pimp You Out for Love" to the very personal and touching "Room to Room,"  about his mother's struggle with Alzheimer's.

Religion has been the social backbone of human civilization for thousands of years.  It helps explain the unexplainable, gives hope to the hopeless, and its places of worship have been the common spaces whose members get to know each other, practice common traditions, build trust, and help each other in an enormous and frightening world.  But what happens when the world gets smaller, and people of different faiths, or no faith at all, live together - and in a democracy none the less? Next week we'll discuss the influence faith-based organizations have on secular society.