The Contributions of Freethinkers: Zora Neale Hurston

I've been reading this essay from Sikivu Hutchinson in the L.A. Watts Times, which calls on black atheists to come out of the closet while acknowledging the difficulties they face in doing so. The cultural barriers, she says, are even greater than for white atheists: African-American culture is "heavily steeped" in Christian dogma, the legacy of a "culturally specific survival strategy" - in the slave era, it served them as a unifying force and a source of comfort (despite the fact that it was … [Read more...]

Smoke on the Breeze

In May, I wrote about the freethinker Giuseppe Verdi and my experience attending a performance of his operatic masterpiece, the Requiem. At the time, I had one other thought: strange as it sounds, and despite the fact that its composer was no friend of orthodoxy, Verdi's Requiem was one of the more effective arguments for Christianity I've ever heard.I'm not a frequent attendee of sermons, but even so, I doubt few of them would match Verdi's orchestral eloquence. Even though its arias were … [Read more...]

A Cold and Sterile Heaven

The other day while browsing in the library, I found out that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the Left Behind series, have also written a trilogy of prequels. (As long as Christians continue to purchase these awful books, it seems, they intend to keep churning them out.) The final installment of this trilogy is called The Rapture, and it's about just that, written from the point of view of the faithful Christians who are miraculously transported to Heaven.Much of the book is taken up … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Verdi

Today, I'm inaugurating another new post series on Daylight Atheism, "The Contributions of Freethinkers". The purpose of this series will be to dispel the myth that nonbelievers have never contributed anything of worth or value to human culture by highlighting some famous historical atheists and freethinkers who've left their mark. Whether in the arts, the sciences, or the humanities, all are eligible. The subject of my first post in this series will be the famous nineteenth-century Italian … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Portable Atheist

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Not "essential" as its title claims, but a usefully broad sampling of atheist thought for the reader who wishes to be better versed in the voices of nonbelief.The Portable Atheist, edited by Christopher Hitchens, is intended to serve as an introductory guide and perhaps an armamentarium for atheists. The book contains a wide variety of pieces, essays and poems - … [Read more...]

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Last night I saw The Golden Compass, the movie adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman's acclaimed fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. The movie, like the book, is set in a fantastic and richly imagined parallel universe, similar to our own world but different in many important ways. In Pullman's steampunk world, human beings' souls live outside their bodies, in the form of talking animal familiars called daemons; the icy north is ruled by fearsome armored bears and clans of flying … [Read more...]

A Christmas Carol

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face."Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Pilgrim’s Progress

A new essay has been posted on Ebon Musings, a review of the famous Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress. The review follows the book's format in chronicling the journey of the main character, "Christian", from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, commenting on the trials and tribulations he experiences along the way, and concludes by summing up what the allegory teaches us about the nature of Christianity itself.This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome. … [Read more...]

A Visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral

It was in late December of last year that I visited St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City for the first time. It was a cold, wet evening, alternating between rain and flurries of snow, and a friend and I had gone downtown to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. But the cathedral was on the way, and we could not pass up the chance to see another Manhattan landmark.The change in the atmosphere was noticeable as soon as we passed through the massive bronze doors. Outside on Fifth … [Read more...]

Living Up to the Renaissance Ideal

In my previous post in this category, Know Everything, I expressed my desire to know every fact there is about the universe, to know how to solve every problem that has been solved. This goal is, of course, impossible. We cannot do that, so what can we do?I have always admired the Renaissance ideal - the person who is knowledgeable in many areas, and constantly learning about more. Given that we can never know everything, this is probably the best we can achieve, and I think it is what we … [Read more...]


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