Rehabilitating the Inquisition

These days, one of the blogs where I spend the most time commenting is Leah Libresco's Unequally Yoked on Patheos. This isn't just because its author has a unique and interesting perspective unlike any I've seen elsewhere, but also because there's a lot more give-and-take between atheists and theists (mostly Catholics) than you find in the comments section of many atheist blogs. And while debating and attempting to persuade believers is a fun and worthwhile pursuit in and of itself, I also do … [Read more...]

Book Review: Letters From an Atheist Nation

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.) Summary: A surprising, welcome reminder that atheism has a long and storied history in the U.S. Letters from an Atheist Nation, edited by Thomas Lawson, is a compilation of reader letters printed by the Blue Grass Blade, a pro-atheist, pro-freethought newspaper published in, of all places, Kentucky in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its editor, Charles Chilton Moore, was a … [Read more...]

Unite Against the War on Women

This Saturday, April 28, is the date for a collective movement of nationwide marches and rallies, organized by UniteWomen.org and backed by a national coalition of non-profit organizations, the Center for Inquiry among them. I wanted to write a bit about what motivated this and what's at stake. In just the last few years in America, decades of gains in women's rights have been seriously endangered, with outrageous anti-choice laws proposed or passed by right-wing legislatures in numerous … [Read more...]

The Twitter Report: Nice Guys Finish Last

Once again, I've gotten enmeshed in a debate on Twitter. This time it wasn't with a theist, but with two atheists, Daniel Loxton and Reed Esau. It started with these two posts, which I happened to overhear:I'd support a focussed movement to counter bigoted "atheists as hostile outsiders" stereotype. That mvnt wld be useful for me as an atheist —@Daniel_Loxton, 2:27 PM - 18 Apr 12@Daniel_Loxton Taking atheism out of the nutty, angry fringe and into the no-big-deal territory can … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The End-Times Obsession

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Apocalypse Soon: Why Are Christians So Obsessed With the End Times? In it, I trace the long and ignoble history of failed apocalypse predictions in Christianity: from Harold Camping's infamous pratfall last year all the way back to prominent colonial and medieval preachers, and even the New Testament authors themselves, all of whom were equally sure that Armageddon lay just around the corner. I write about why apocalyptic expectation seems to be a more … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Cranston

Back in January, I wrote about Jessica Ahlquist's court victory over an illegal "School Prayer" banner in her high school in Cranston, Rhode Island. That was almost the end of the story, but since then, there have been a few further developments. In February, following a tumultuous hearing, the school board grudgingly did the right thing and decided not to appeal. Taking the case further into farce, a few Cranston die-hards tried to intervene after the decision had been handed down and filed a … [Read more...]

The Catholic Crackdown on Feminism, Continued

There are some times when it gives me little pleasure to be right, and this is one of them:The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America's 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination.This isn't the result of the "apostolic visitation" I wrote about earlier, but the findings of a separate Vatican inquiry (PDF) into the Leadership Conference of Women … [Read more...]

Sunday Potpourri

The weekend is a good time to get some culture, and since there are a lot of things lately that I'm enjoying, I figured I'd write one completely miscellaneous post to mention all of them. Music: As I mentioned in the last "random & interesting" thread, I'm always looking to expand my musical knowledge. As much as I listen to streaming sites like Pandora, I find I get more and better suggestions from real people. Here are three artists I've gotten into lately:Books: My current read … [Read more...]

Testing My Moral DNA

I read an article this week about a questionnaire whose creator, the "corporate philosopher" Roger Steare, calls the Moral DNA test. Over 50,000 people from 200 countries have taken this survey, which its creator says is designed to help humanity understand how we make moral decisions. He also says the results so far show that women are more moral than men, and older people are more moral than younger people - both of which are claims I find strange, since the test is intended to show what … [Read more...]

Why I Should Pay Higher Taxes

If you're an American, you probably know that this week is income-tax time. (If you didn't already know that, sorry to tell you, but you missed the deadline.) Most people anticipate tax season with dread, but for me, this isn't an especially painful time. In fact, I almost look forward to it, because my withholding schedule is set up such that instead of having to pay more in April, I usually get a big refund. As pleasurable as it is to get that refund, I'm aware this makes no rational sense. I … [Read more...]


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