Threads of 2013

Mixed Media Painting (Detail) by Choichun Leung / Dumbo Arts Cen

The sand is draining from the last hours of 2013, so here's a look back at the passing year. Of course, it started off with Daylight Atheism moving to a new home on Patheos, but there were lots of other major developments as well:Feminism and the Atheist MovementIn January, I launched a petition calling for more emphasis on feminism and diversity in the secular community, which garnered over 2,000 signatures and was delivered to the leaders of many atheist and secular organizations. … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Deconverting from Hinduism

Krishna

Living in a culture where Christianity is the dominant religion, I don't often come into contact with former Hindus or ex-members of other Eastern faiths. But there are atheists in every culture and society in the world, and they all go through the same intellectual and emotional struggles. I got a reminder of that in an e-mail the other day from an ex-Hindu atheist named Vikram who was seeking some advice on handling his own deconversion:Dear Mr. Lee,I have greatly enjoyed your book … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 28

Coffee

While you rest and recover from all the holiday feasting, some links:• The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the Roman city of Pompeii also buried another town, Herculaneum. One of the buildings that's been unearthed was a rich Roman's villa - including the library. The thousands of scrolls it contained were thought to be charred beyond recognition, but high-resolution CAT scans and multispectral imaging are finally making it possible to read the lost scrolls from the Villa of the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Battle Cry of Freedom

WoodenShack

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter IXLeaving Hank and Dagny for a little while, we turn to a scene in Connecticut:The silhouette of a conveyor belt moved against the strips of fire in the sky, raising coal to the top of a distant tower, as if an inexhaustible number of small black buckets rode out of the earth in a diagonal line across the sunset. The harsh, distant clatter kept going through the rattle of the chains which a young man in blue overalls was fastening over the machinery, … [Read more...]

The Rising of the Sun

SolsticeEclipse

In most of the Western world, today is Christmas Day. We rationalists know that, despite the meandering of the calendar and all the religious mythology that's become encrusted on it, this date was first chosen for its astronomical significance. The winter solstice is an inflection point, after which ancient people knew dark days would brighten and long nights would dwindle as the sun returned. That's what we're really celebrating, and all the "Keep Christ in Christmas" signs in the world won't … [Read more...]

The Actual Victims of Discrimination

The dominoes keep falling in the U.S., as this month courts ruled in favor of marriage equality in New Mexico and Utah (!!). Until this decision, New Mexico was the only state that had no law either permitting or prohibiting same-sex marriage, creating a legal ambiguity that the state's highest court has now resolved.But it's the shock decision in Utah that could be far more significant in the long run. In that case, a federal judge struck down an anti-gay amendment to the state … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: His Dark Materials

HisDarkMaterials

There's a lot of fantasy fiction that I enjoy in spite of its religious themes - C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, or Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. But sometimes I'm in the mood for fiction that takes an explicitly atheist and humanist point of view, which is why I've lately been rereading one of my favorite series, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.The first book in the series, The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights outside the USA), is set on an alternate Earth that … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Madonna-Whore Complex

WomanInProfile

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter IXAs the next chapter begins, we fade in on Dagny waking up in bed with Hank, the two of them still in Ellis Wyatt's house:She looked at the glowing bands on the skin of her arm, spaced like bracelets from her wrist to her shoulder. They were strips of sunlight from the Venetian blinds on the window of an unfamiliar room. She saw a bruise above her elbow, with dark beads that had been blood. [p.237]Say what? This is one of those double-take … [Read more...]

My Debate at the Midtown Scholar

MidtownScholarDebate

This past weekend, I was at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for my first ever in-person debate, part of the "Think! Of God and Government" debate series I'm having with Christian author Andrew Murtagh.The Midtown Scholar is a huge, gorgeous independent bookstore - I'm told it used to be a movie theater - with a cafe and reading area surrounded by tall bookshelves and murals, and a second-floor viewing gallery that overlooks the rest of the space. I got there just a short time … [Read more...]

No Segregation in the Marketplace of Ideas

Last month, Universities UK, an umbrella organization representing institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom, published guidelines for how colleges could host controversial speakers on campus in a way that respects both free-speech and anti-discrimination laws. Among their case studies was the hypothetical example of a fundamentalist religious speaker who wanted his audience to be segregated by gender. Shockingly, Universities UK concluded that such a demand can and should be agreed … [Read more...]


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