Below are a selection of the 5,839 blog posts I've written, and the four books I've authored, that are shared on this site.  Click on the links in the left sidebar to view them by category. Some videos and photo essays I've created aren't shown below -- just in a category. 

Break Free of Dogma

Since 2004 the Church of the Churchless blog has been inspiring, entertaining, and educating people who view themselves as spiritual but not religious, an ever-expanding group of truth-seekers. The 93 churchless “sermons” in this book have been selected from the early years of the blog, 2004-06. By turns provocative, heartfelt, challenging, humorous, and philosophical, these blog posts reflect the author's struggle to come to grips with the dogmatism he embraced during 35 years of religiosity.

Southern California or Oregon? Take a guess

It's photo quiz time. See how many questions you answer correctly. Any Oregonian who gets less than 100% needs to better appreciate the beauties of southern California, which includes my three year old granddaughter. (Q.1) Was this girl posing provocatively for a photographer on a beach in Lincoln City, Oregon or Malibu, California? Well, duh. Have you ever observed this scene on an Oregon beach -- especially in late March? While in the LA area to visit my daughter and her family last week

I changed a Bollywood actor's life... turning him vegetarian

Until recently I'd never heard of Shahid Kapoor, a Bollywood actor in India. But it turns out that we have a connection: after reading my book, Life is Fair, Kapoor became a vegetarian. Here's the tale, as told in "The Man Who Changed Shahid Kapoor's Life" His father, who follows Radha Soami, had been preaching to him for years about the benefits of eating only what is grown in the farms, had no effect on him; but the book converted him. A decade ago Shahid Kapoor turned vegetarian. He got

I'm 65. Where's my "Aging Hippie" retirement community?

My wife and I are starting to ponder our options when coping with our non-easy-care house on ten rural acres near Salem, Oregon gets to be too much of a chore for us. Some days, I feel like that day already has arrived. We've got a large early 1970's house; something regularly goes wrong. We've got a large yard in addition to the ten acres; something regularly needs attending to -- leaves, mowing, pruning, whatever. But we're healthy (albeit with a few nagging problems). And maintaining our

Outrage: the true story of Salem's U.S. Bank tree killings

I like the subtitle of my just-released "Outrage: Salem's U.S. Bank tree killings" report. The true story of how City officials and the bank president cut down five large, healthy, beautiful downtown trees for no good reason, and misled citizens about why they did it. The highly readable report is based on new information I got about this debacle after forking out $726.61 for public record requests that reveal for the first time how truly outrageous the tree killings were. Download Outrage

One hour with my father

Here’s a contrarian Mother’s Day story about the one hour I spent with my father. Note: the one hour, period. This wasn’t the best or worst hour, nor the happiest or saddest hour. It was the only hour I spent face-to-face with him. Well, not counting a bunch of hours when I was a baby that I can’t remember. These are the only photos that I have of my father, John Hines. They always have been part of my Baby Book. I used to stare at them a lot when I was a kid, wondering what my father was li

God’s here, but I’ve got to go

If Jesus returned to earth and you were part of the multitudes listening to him preach in person, what would you do if you had to go to the bathroom? This is the sort of deep theological question that we love to consider here at the Church of the Churchless. It also was a deep experiential quandary for me back in December of 1977 when I made my first visit to India. I went to see the guru, Charan Singh, who had initiated me by proxy six and a half years earlier. I had never seen Charan Singh in

Now we've really proven Dr. Laura wrong

For five years Laurel and I have been building up to our ultimate nyah, nyah, you're so wrong! retort to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, the advice guru who is fond of reducing complex and mysterious human relationships to simplistic sound bites. Back in 2004 I warmed up with "14th anniversary -- take that Dr. Laura!" I noted that Laurel and I had known each other for about eight months before we got married, and I proposed within four months. A no-no for Dr. Laura, especially since I'd recently ended

My grandmother taught me the power of "I like it"

It was a pleasure to write my latest Strange Up Salem column for Salem Weekly, The power of "I like it." I told the story of how, when I was thirteen, my grandmother was the only person in a group of adults who responded positively when I read them a poem I'd written about the darkness that lies between the stars. Yeah, the poem was admittedly weird. But so are 13 year old minds. (All minds, actually.) Thankfully, Gram, as I called her, resonated with my early teen weirdness. That meant a lo

Too depressed to do anything else, I'll write about my depression

It's a new experience, being depressed. Now, to be honest I haven't actually gotten a depression diagnosis. But my wife, Laurel, is a retired psychotherapist. And she tells me, "Brian, you aren't just tired. You're depressed." At first I didn't believe her. But Laurel gave me a Psychology Today article, "Depressed Without Knowing It," and that helped to change my mind. I knew that several health problems had made me anxious, sad, worried, nervous about the future. I also was feeling a lack o

Tai Chi has taught me that flowing is way better than forcing

I've been learning Tai Chi for about thirteen years. That makes me a near-beginner in this oh-so-subtle "soft style" martial art. Before taking up Tai Chi I studied "hard style" martial arts for about the same length of time. My previous Tai Chi-related posts are here, on my other blog. For some reason I haven't written about Tai Chi for five years. This hasn't been from a lack of interest. It must be because Tai Chi is something I do and experience much more than I think about it. Well, latel

New York Post features us in story about hippie retirement communities

Yes, that's us, Brian and Laurel Hines, displayed in all our 60'ish glory (both age and decade) in a New York Post story this month: "When I'm 64. Tie-dyed-in-the-wool hippies are redefining retirement homes and end-of-life choices." After being asked for a photo of us, I'm pleased that the Post went with the one I sent them that a friend took of us at the 2014 Oregon Country Fair.  We were leaving this marvelous annual counter-cultural celebration in Veneta when I spotted a perch that seeme

Mindfulness has become my meditation

Back in my true-believing religious days, when I embraced an Eastern form of mysticism that espoused several hours of daily eyes-closed meditation, I thought that the ultimate aim of life was to experience higher realms of reality beyond the physical. Of course, I had a job to go to, a wife and daughter, worldly activities I enjoyed. But I viewed these as mostly distinct from my spiritual goal of god-realization -- those things were part of my karma; important, yet not what my life's highest pu

Here's my 12 favorite churchless blog posts of 2018

Why, this is almost like the Twelve Days of Christmas -- aside from the Days and Christmas part. It's my Twelve Favorite Blog Posts of 2018 here on the Church of the Churchless. (Image below came from here.) I picked one post from each month, because that was easier. And I generally chose posts that I'd written mostly by myself, rather than posts where I quoted a lot from someone else. But since rules are made to be broken, a few posts don't contain mostly my own words. So here they are, the

The universe is a paper bag turned inside out

Some forty-two years ago, back in 1968, I had a revelation: The universe is a paper bag turned inside out. Now, at the time I had some reasons to doubt the veracity of this insight into ultimate reality, since it was fueled by mescaline and dissipated the following day. But another guy and I intuited this truth at the exact same moment. Today I've gotten confirmation that, indeed, the universe is a bag turned inside out. Tucson, a regular Church of the Churchless visitor, left a comment on thi

My twelve favorite 2018 blog posts

How I feel about my blog posts is a lot like how I'd feel if, instead of only having one child, I had several. They all would be my favorite! But risking some tears from unchosen posts,  I was able to pick just one Salem Political Snark post per month to comprise my favorites list for 2018. Before sharing them, I want to say that the always-interesting Breakfast on Bikes blogger has put together an absolutely great overview of goings-on in Salem during the past year from the standpoint of land

My Paris Hilton relationship revealed

I’ve come to feel that it finally is time to reveal the nature of my relationship with Paris Hilton. Laurel and I have been following her “career” (so to speak) with considerable interest, observing with wonder the marvel of how—as others have noted before me—it is so easy in America to be famous for being famous. While this tidy circularity implies that Paris’ accomplishment has been largely effortless, our research on E and VH1 tells us otherwise: Paris works very hard at partying, and she de

Death and the primal fear of non-existence

I’ve come face to face with not-existing. It’s scary. Really scary. I’ve never experienced anything scarier. I can call it “fear,” but it’s more than that. Worse than that. Regular fear arises when something bad is happening or could happen. But primal fear is looking into the maw of nothing happening to you, because there will be no you around for anything to happen to. Do you get the difference? I hope so. I don’t know if I can describe it any more clearly. This experience has come to me abo

Judge's final decision on Laack subdivision: the meaning for me

A few days ago Judge Nely Johnson finalized her oral opinion in Marion County (Oregon) Circuit Court that overturned a flawed Board of Commissioners' decision to let a 43-lot, 217-acre subdivision move ahead on high value, groundwater limited farmland. Land use junkies and interested neighbors can read all about it here (4.1 MB PDF file): Download Final decision FOMC v. Marion County (Laack) This has been a long journey for our neighborhood and me. It started in 2005, when plans for this Mea
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