Book Review: Nature’s God

NaturesGod

(Editor's Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: A dense philosophical-historical synthesis that rewards the diligent reader by opening up a new window on the beliefs of America's founders.Matthew Stewart's book Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, like Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers or Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History, plumbs the freethinking ideals that played an outsize role in the … [Read more...]

The Mabus Problem: Fighting Anonymous Harassment on Social Media

Gargoyle

I'm not much of a video gamer (I spend my free time writing!), but I've been following the work of Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic whose non-profit group Feminist Frequency critiques sexism in popular culture, with a special focus on video games. Her series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games points out lazy, sexist clichés that game designers resort to repeatedly: damsels in distress, women in refrigerators, scenes of sexual violence just to make the game world darker and "grittier", and so … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: September 6

Coffee

• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Triage for Dummies

Caduceus1

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VAs the next chapter opens, halfway through Part II of Atlas, the crumbling of society is accelerating. Fuel has become scarce, household appliances and other modern conveniences are vanishing, and people are dying by the hundreds in winter blizzards. But what's far worse is that Hank Rearden has failed to fill an order for the first time in the history of his company:"It won't make any difference to us now, forget it, Hank, it doesn't matter," said … [Read more...]

Tiptoeing Around the Civil Rights Act

Segregation

The Civil Rights Act is an abiding dilemma for members of the right-wing Church of Not Gay. As marriage equality continues to progress, their latest cause celebre is arguing that believers should have the right to refuse service to gay couples - whether they be photographers, bakers, owners of wedding venues, even county clerks - all in the name, supposedly, of "religious liberty", which they believe should be a trump card allowing holders to opt out of any generally applicable law.The … [Read more...]

Prayer Can’t Fight Ebola

Ebola

The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola virus is still raging in West Africa. There are over 1,500 confirmed deaths so far - including, heartbreakingly, doctors and nurses treating other sufferers - though the real number is probably much higher, since widespread fear and mistrust means that many of the sick never come forward.The epidemic has also been helped along by traditional herbalists who claim they can treat Ebola, but only end up spreading the virus. Some people don't even believe it … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian? It's about the increasing conflict between liberal and moderate religious believers who feel the doctrines of their churches should be open for reexamination, and the authoritarians who are determined to quash these democratic notions at any cost. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:Religion is a noteworthy exception to this trend of progress. Secular moral reasoning, founded on considerations … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Slash Fiction

MaleSymbols

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVRearden is winning plaudits for the innovative "la la la, I'm not listening to you" defense strategy he deployed at his trial. Even the government overseer at his mills, the boy Rand nicknames the Wet Nurse, is coming to admire him:The Wet Nurse asked him at the mills, "Mr. Rearden, what's a moral premise?""What you're going to have a lot of trouble with."The boy frowned, then shrugged and said, laughing, "God, that was a wonderful show! What … [Read more...]

The Coming Secular Era

NYCSunrise

The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: the long-term, across-the-board decline of Christianity and the corresponding rise of atheism, which has been going on behind the scenes for more than twenty years and is now … [Read more...]

The South Will Not Rise Again

Last year, I wrote about the continuing exodus of members from the Catholic church, and apologists' fumbling suggestions for how to reverse the trend. I noted with amusement that there was an elephant in the room - the church's retrograde doctrines which drive away young people - which the apologists were carefully tiptoeing around while they made minor suggestions about the decor and the color scheme.Well, as they say, history rhymes. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X