Repost: The Guardians of Tone

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from January 2011.]I was tipped off to this excellent essay by a reader (thanks, bbk, even if it was unintentional!) and since it got buried in the comments on the other thread, I wanted to call special attention to it. It's about the virtues of anger, specifically with reference to the feminist movement, but it contains some valuable lessons that are applicable to atheism … [Read more...]

Repost: Fossilized Opinions

Ammonite

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2010.]Sam Harris is famous for the argument that religion, even moderate religion, does harm by teaching that faith is a virtue that should not be questioned, which encourages militant and violent strains of fundamentalism. Today, I want to talk about another way, subtle but unmistakable, that religion causes harm to human beings.Because of its tendency to treat … [Read more...]

Repost: The Power of Christ Compels You

Atheists are not actually afraid of this.

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2006.]Earlier tonight I received a highly amusing e-mail whose author seemed confident that I would cease to be an atheist if I performed a magical ritual of their devising. I don't normally post feedback e-mail in full, but since this one was sent to me anonymously, I have no qualms in doing so:From: Anonymous <anonymous@anonymous.net> Date: Sat, 10 Jun … [Read more...]

The Government Shutdown Blues

This week, the U.S. government shut down for the first time in 17 years, thanks to intransigent House Republicans who refused to pass a budget unless it included provisions to gut or delay the Affordable Care Act. Ironically, this is the same day that the new health insurance exchanges opened for business, since they're funded by mandatory spending that's not part of the budget process.The threat of a government shutdown was one of the last cards played by a political party that's tried … [Read more...]

New Pope, Same Old Dogmas

FrozenFountain

Earlier this summer, I wrote about some conciliatory (but ultimately meaningless) remarks from Pope Francis about gay people. Now he's given a longer interview to the Jesuit magazine America in which he appeared to suggest that the church has been talking about abortion, contraception and gay rights too much:"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Religious Right Loves Putin

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Meet the American Religious Right Figures Thrilled by Russia's Brutal Anti-Gay Laws. In it, I report on Russia's sharp turn towards authoritarianism, its government's violent and repressive anti-LGBT laws, and the American religious right figures who couldn't be happier about it all. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:Russia has become a dangerous place for dissent. Its ex-KGB president, Vladimir Putin, has accomplished what … [Read more...]

The Dreamy Hormones of Matrimony

AntiWomanSuffrage

Last week on Twitter, I saw a link to a Catholic site calling itself Fix the Family, which had posted an essay titled 6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College. It was so hilariously over-the-top that I wondered at first if it was a parody. But after perusing the site for a while, I'm persuaded that it's for real.At the beginning of the essay, the author responds to what he sees as the obvious objections:"You believe in taking away opportunities for women and trapping them into a … [Read more...]

Some Unfinished Thoughts on Syria

Since it looks more likely than not that the U.S. is going to attack the Assad regime in Syria, I wanted to write down some of the thoughts that have been on my mind the last few days.I don't have any particular reason to doubt that Assad used chemical weapons. We know that he possesses them, and he's shown himself to be an extraordinarily brutal dictator with no compunctions about bombing and shelling civilian populations as a form of collective punishment. I also don't think that this … [Read more...]

The Missing Diversity of Intelligence Squared

Intelligence Squared is a group that organizes live public debates on political and philosophical topics. I've been to one of their New York City events before, a debate about whether the world would be better off without religion.In general, I'm all for this idea. It's a welcome echo of the era of Robert Ingersoll, when public lectures and debates were considered the height of popular culture, and I'm all in favor of any kind of entertainment that encourages people to turn their brains on … [Read more...]

The Political Pull of New York’s Ultra-Orthodox

WilliamsburgBridge

New York City's mayoral election is approaching, and as the race heats up, more attention is being paid to the increasing political influence of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish sects of Brooklyn.Like their counterparts in Israel, New York's Hasidim have rebounded from the decimation of World War II. They were nearly wiped out by the Nazi genocide, but their numbers have swelled in the generations since, due to religious and cultural teachings that make it a duty for Hasidic families to … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X