Is Assisted Dying Narcissism?

In a milestone, the California legislature approved an assisted-dying bill last week. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't said if he'll sign it, but if he does, the state would become the fifth and by far the largest to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication. Like its counterpart laws in Oregon, Washington and Vermont, the California version requires doctors to certify that the person is of sound mind and has less than six months to live.But even if Brown vetoes this version of the bill, it … [Read more...]

Pro-Gay Christians, Wouldn’t Atheism Be Easier?


I have to wonder what could possibly be motivating gay and gay-affirming Christians to stay in the church. Last week, another one was unceremoniously tossed out:Julie Rodgers rocked the evangelical world last year when Wheaton College announced they would be hiring the celibate gay Christian as an associate for spiritual care in the Chaplain's office. In a new blog post, Rodgers announces her affirmation of same-sex relationships and marriage equality.And Wheaton College says Rodgers … [Read more...]

When Would You Rather Be Alive?

Reading the news is always a marathon race between hope and despair, but that conflict has been especially sharp these last few months. While every era has its doomsayers, they've lately become a lot harder to dismiss.Europe remains slumped in depression and wracked by infighting over the future of its union, with no way out in sight. America is sweltering under political stagnation, fraying at the seams from breathtaking inequality and the brutal violence of a police state, and there's a … [Read more...]

On Financial Independence

Via this interview on Vox, I came across an intriguing blog by a writer who goes by the unlikely appellation of Mr. Money Mustache. MMM, as I'll call him for short, argues that an ordinary person can save enough to retire after as little as ten years of full-time work, without winning the lottery or coming into a windfall inheritance. He did it himself, and he's happy to explain how. Much of his advice struck a chord with me, and I've found a lot in what he says that should make humanists sit up … [Read more...]

The Frozen River: A Humanist Sermon


Six years ago, this nation achieved a historic milestone when its people elected a black man to be their president. For a country that was sustained by slave labor for decades after its inception and riven by racism throughout its history, this is an almost unimaginable accomplishment. It's not that Barack Obama promised to single-handedly inaugurate a new era of progressive utopianism - those of us who followed his political ascent always knew that he was a conciliatory moderate with mildly … [Read more...]

Book Reviews: Fighting Back the Right, Living the Secular Life


(Author's Note: The following reviews were solicited and are written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Fighting Back the Right by David NioseI previously reviewed Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose, a past president of the American Humanist Association. His new book, Fighting Back the Right, tells the story of how the right wing became a formidable force in America's culture wars and what we can do about it.The modern conservative movement, in Niose's account, is … [Read more...]

Brighter Than Today: The 2014 Secular Solstice


In the depths of winter's darkness, human beings have a seemingly inherent need to celebrate and be festive, especially with holidays that involve the kindling of light, as if in defiance of chilly weather and early nightfall. And the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest time of the year, is a natural date to choose, which is why so many cultures have marked it with holidays, often borrowing or building upon the customs of their forerunners.The Christians did it once, co-opting the very … [Read more...]

Summer Twilight: A Humanist Sermon

On a night earlier this summer, a humid blue twilight in July, I stepped out of my home to run an errand. It was sweltering and heavy after the day's heat, but it must have been the perfect temperature for fireflies. There were hundreds of them, swarming in the air and the grass, glimmering and flashing like motes of gold in the gathering dusk.Through some means I can't imagine, it seemed as if they had agreed to synchronize, so that no two of them lit up at the same time. As soon as one … [Read more...]

You, Sir, Are No Robert Ingersoll


Before I went on vacation last month, you may recall how I tangled with a mob of nasty sexists who misleadingly call themselves "men's rights activists". Most of their comments were pure ad hominem filth, not worth the trouble of responding to, but there was one I wanted to address: from an atheist MRA who fears that feminism is ruining both science and atheism, and who thinks that some famous historical freethinkers would have taken his side.Surprisingly, my largely religious family was … [Read more...]

Repost: Green Fields


[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...]