SF/F Saturday: Terry Pratchett’s Death

I was devastated to learn that Terry Pratchett, the renowned fantasy author, died this week at the unfairly early age of 66. Pratchett had been suffering from early-onset dementia for several years, and while he was a vocal advocate of assisted dying, his own passing was natural. (He also worked almost right up to the end: his final Discworld book, The Shepherd's Crown, is set to be published posthumously this year.)The sad news was broken by family on his Twitter account, in a form any … [Read more...]

Book Review: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

SmokeGetsInYourEyes

Summary: Morbid, irreverent and funny, but a subtle and compassionate humanism runs throughout.Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, the creator of a popular YouTube series answering questions about the funeral industry, and the founder of the Order of the Good Death, a "death acceptance" organization dedicated to helping people reconcile with mortality. Her book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory grows out of that mission, offering a disarmingly honest glimpse into an … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: February 22

• Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and science writer, has terminal cancer. Here, he writes a beautiful, elegiac, deeply humanist essay about confronting the prospect of death and what he intends to do with the time he has left.• This can't end well: In response to the increasing threat of ISIS, which is drawing Muslim extremists to its cause from all over the world, Western Christians, most with military experience, are traveling to Iraq and Syria to form an opposing Christian … [Read more...]

Brittany Maynard and the Right to Die

Brittany_Maynard

Brittany Maynard died this month. Diagnosed with brain cancer on New Year's Day, at the age of 29, she opted for surgery, but the cancer returned and became even more aggressive. Deciding that radiation or chemotherapy was only delaying the inevitable and would destroy the quality of her life in what time she had left, she decided to forego further treatment and spent her last few months traveling, checking off all the places on her bucket list, before finally choosing to end her life under … [Read more...]

Repost: Green Fields

GreenFields

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2009.]For those who are grieving, for those who mourn, and for all those who are burdened with the weary weight of sorrow, I have a prescription.Find a quiet, peaceful place, a green field of grass where great trees grow and gift the world with their shade. Let it be just before sunset, at that golden hour when the heat of the afternoon is past, when the sky is blue … [Read more...]

Grief Beyond Belief

I've been writing about atheism for some years now, and one of my great joys has been watching the secular community grow and thrive. Once, our main pastimes were debating philosophy on the internet and filing church-state lawsuits. Now we have political lobbying arms, atheist parenting guides, secular student clubs and summer camps, humanist communities and celebrants, and more. We're getting closer and closer to the ideal of a true secular community whose members offer tangible support to each … [Read more...]

Aid in Dying

GreenFields

In 1994, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. The Bush administration filed a lawsuit to overturn the referendum, but lost at the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, despite this victory, for many years Oregon stood alone in allowing doctors to ease their patients' passing. But that's now starting to change:In January, a district court in New Mexico authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right … [Read more...]

Repost: Fragile Trappings

StoneDoorway

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from October 2007.]I stepped out of my house today on a chilly fall afternoon. After an unseasonably late warm spell, as if summer had lingered this year past its appointed time, autumn had arrived at last. The feel of the season was in the air: the misty cool, the forests defiantly ablaze with fiery color, the smell of fallen leaves, wet black and rusty gold, in the grass. … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: May 5

Coffee

• A Christian fundamentalist couple that believes in faith healing has now killed two of their children by refusing to seek medical care for them. This likely violates the terms of their probation, agreed to in 2011 after the death of their first child, in which they agreed to obtain medical care for any of their other children who needed it.• John Paulk, the former chairman of the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, has recanted. In a statement, Paulk said he no longer … [Read more...]

Weekend Presents: December 23

XmasTree

It's two more days before you can open the gifts under the tree, but I have some early presents:• Now hear this: I'm on the New Books in Secularism podcast, discussing my book Daylight Atheism.• Big news out of the Philippines: The legislature has finally passed a national Reproductive Health Bill, defying fierce objections by the Roman Catholic church. The bill, which had been stalled for years by church pressure, would create government-run health clinics to dispense contraception in th … [Read more...]


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