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...]

“Because of Politics”

I was reading "Life in Obamacare's Dead Zone", about poor Americans stuck in a coverage gap that arose because the Supreme Court made it possible for red states to refuse the Medicaid expansion. I'll get to their stories, but first, I have to vent about the appalling subhead:"Excluded from the Affordable Care Act because of politics, thousands of poor Americans grapple with the toll — physical and psychological — of being uninsured."Whether the author meant it this way or not, the phr … [Read more...]

Generations

I was at a family gathering last weekend, and after dinner, we were looking through some old photo albums that had been discovered in the attic of my grandparents' house. My attention was grabbed by this one, a picture of my great-grandfather Hymie, which is in excellent condition considering it's over a hundred years old:Born May 10 1890 Romania Came to US Nov 1907 Picture taken 1908This one is a little more faded, but here he is together with my great-grandmother … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: St. John’s Folly

I'm continually surprised by what people are willing to declare a "charitable" cause and ask others for money for. This week, I got a solicitation in the mail that pushes those boundaries even further:This letter is asking for money to help pay for the upkeep of St. John the Divine, a huge Episcopal cathedral on the upper west side of Manhattan. Ironically, I know this building well - it's right down the block from where I lived in Morningside Heights when I was in Columbia. … [Read more...]

Coming Soon: The Fountainhead

Good news! I've been reading and making notes on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and I'm nearly done with it now. I'm planning to write another chapter-by-chapter review, like the one I did for Atlas Shrugged, beginning in January 2017.I'll do my best to make it entertaining, but I have to admit that The Fountainhead isn't as wacky as Atlas Shrugged. It's slower, talkier, less action-oriented. It doesn't have the disappearing-geniuses mystery plot, the mad-science sci-fi, or the … [Read more...]

Will Atheists Stand in Solidarity With Muslims?

This election was an ugly demonstration of how many racists and bigots there still are in this country, even in liberal and cosmopolitan areas. And Donald Trump's victory has tremendously emboldened them, as we saw in an ugly story from New York City this week:Straphangers stood by and watched as three drunk white men repeatedly screamed "Donald Trump!" and hurled anti-Islam slurs Thursday at a Muslim Baruch College student before trying to rip her hijab off of her head on an East Side … [Read more...]

Facebook’s Fake News Poisons Democracy

In the past couple of months, I've noticed a significant dropoff in page views on Daylight Atheism. From what I've found out, it's not just me and it's not even just Patheos. It's an industry-wide problem, affecting media companies large and small, and it's being driven by Facebook changing its algorithm to deemphasize links to external sites in favor of native content, like photos and status updates from your friends.In a sense, this is an understandable business decision. Whenever you see … [Read more...]

Why America Needs Identity Politics

The debate about what lessons American progressives need to take from the 2016 election is just beginning. One of the first shots in that war was fired this month in an editorial by Mark Lilla, "The End of Identity Liberalism", that implores us to stop thinking or talking about race and gender so much. It leaves a lot to criticize:In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and … [Read more...]