The Fountainhead: Once More Into the Breach

After finishing my marathon review of Atlas Shrugged, I always wanted to circle back and review Ayn Rand's other major novel, The Fountainhead. It was part curiosity, part completionism. (An unkind assessment might add a hint of masochism.)The Fountainhead is the earlier book, published in 1943, fourteen years before Atlas. While it was successful in its own right and helped establish Ayn Rand as an author, it's not as well-known. This may be because, unlike Atlas Shrugged, it's set in a … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern

[For 2017, I made a New Year's resolution to make sure my elected officials hear from me more often. To hold myself accountable to that pledge, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same, I intend to post the letters I send on Daylight Atheism. I sent a version of this letter to my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Feel free to reuse it or adapt it for your own purposes.]Dear Senator:After Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans' … [Read more...]

Secular Community-Building Is Hard Work

Another of Christianity's big names has left the faith and joined us: Bart Campolo, son of the famous preacher Tony Campolo and a well-known evangelical pastor in his own right.As Mark Oppenheimer's article says, Campolo finally dropped his faith after surviving a serious bicycle accident in 2011, which persuaded him of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of it. But his beliefs had been weakening for some time. A lifetime of experience had eroded their … [Read more...]

Threads of 2016

For many reasons, 2016 was a year that most of us would like to forget. But there are some good things too that are worth an annual wrapup, and so we begin with...Family MattersIn September, I became a parent. I wrote about how child-raising cries out for communal effort and the lessons humanists should take from that. I also listed 20 life lessons I'll teach my son when he's old enough to appreciate them.Later in the year, some old family albums inspired me to contemplate the … [Read more...]

Lord of Misrule

Before the Christian church renamed the day Christmas and tried to co-opt it with their own rituals, the winter solstice holiday was traditionally a raucous pagan festival. One of the old customs, which persisted into the medieval era, was called the Lord of Misrule. A person of low social standing, like a peasant or a servant, was chosen to be king for a day and to conscript everyone else into debauchery:Presiding over these rowdy celebrations of Christmas-tide, held over the twelve days … [Read more...]

The Ashes: A Humanist Sermon

For those of us who believe in liberality and human progress, 2016 has been a terrible year. Our hopes for positive change, which for a time blazed so brightly, have collapsed into cinders. Now we're faced with the prospect of a cold and dark season to come.This year was a painful reminder that there's no narrative to history, no inexorable trend toward redemption. History isn't a smooth arc, but a jagged sawtooth, with dramatic drops and plunges. Atheists, especially, ought to know that … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Activism Makes a Difference

As you can imagine, I've been feeling pretty pessimistic since the 2016 election. It's seriously undermined my positive and optimistic view of America's future.But I've always believed that minds are changed one at a time, and as slow and difficult as that is, it's the only way to bring about lasting transformation in a democracy. This week, I got an e-mail that reminded me of that. It's from Patrick, a high school senior:I became non-religious (or, as I would call it now, atheist) in … [Read more...]

New Channel, Same Old Atheism

You may have noticed a change here at Patheos. All of us secular bloggers used to be grouped under the Atheist channel, but no longer. We're now the Nonreligious channel. Here's the official announcement on the Secular Spectrum group blog.To reassure some people who were worried: there was no pressure from above to expunge our blogs of the dreaded term "atheist". It was an internal channel decision, proposed and discussed among ourselves. There was considerable debate, but there was no … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: The One Moment

The rock band OK Go is famous for their high-concept music videos (like the amazing zero-gravity dance video I mentioned once before), but this might be one of their cleverest ideas yet. It's 4 seconds of high-speed video, slowed down to 4 minutes: … [Read more...]

Getting Off the Carousel of Consumerism

As holidays go, I've always liked Thanksgiving better than Christmas. It's not because one is a secular holiday and one is religious - really, both are secular holidays that have been layered over with religious propaganda - but because, of the two, Thanksgiving has only things I enjoy. It's all about togetherness, gratitude, and great food. I'm up for those things any day. Christmas has those too, but it has one other aspect I dislike: the expectation to buy things.I hate shopping, I always … [Read more...]