The Gap

I like to think of myself as an optimist, but lately I find myself adrift in feelings of hopelessness.It's not just the election, although that's obviously part of it. It's a whole raft of disasters which add up to the impression that humanity is going backwards: the genocide in Syria, which the world seems to have no will to do anything about; the upsurge of racism and xenophobia across the West; in the U.S., police who murder innocent people on camera with impunity; hate and bigotry … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Sakura

After a rainy, gloomy week where I live, the sun finally came out and the weather warmed up, and every plant and tree seems to have burst into bloom overnight. That includes these cherry trees, which exploded in dense bunches of pink flowers as if staging a fireworks display to usher in the spring:I feel a philosophical affection for the Japanese cultural interpretation of these flowers, which they call sakura. The cherry blossoms bloom en masse but fade and fall away almost as quickly, … [Read more...]

When Should a Humanist Forgive?

In "The Ashes", I wrote that we should stop trying to help Trump voters who are about to suffer the consequences of getting what they voted for. This drew a rejoinder by Dragoness Eclectic:And this, I fear, is the difference between the compassion preached by Jesus, and secular humanist compassion: "We'll only be kind and compassionate to our friends and allies" vs. "Love your enemies; for even sinners love their friends. You are called to do much more."I thought this critique … [Read more...]

The Ashes: A Humanist Sermon

For those of us who believe in liberality and human progress, 2016 has been a terrible year. Our hopes for positive change, which for a time blazed so brightly, have collapsed into cinders. Now we're faced with the prospect of a cold and dark season to come.This year was a painful reminder that there's no narrative to history, no inexorable trend toward redemption. History isn't a smooth arc, but a jagged sawtooth, with dramatic drops and plunges. Atheists, especially, ought to know that … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Love & Kindness

The next few years are going to be a dark time. I like to think that I'm a generally optimistic person, but I've found precious little to be cheerful about in these past two weeks, and giving up on activism entirely is a thought that's crossed my mind. In the months to come, I feel as though we're all going to need reminders that there's goodness in the world and that it's worth defending.So, let's have a thread devoted to love and kindness. This is the place to share something that gives … [Read more...]

20 Things I’ll Teach My Son

Ever since my son was conceived, I've been thinking about what I want to teach him, about life and about the kind of person he should strive to be. It's going to be a while before he's old enough to absorb any kind of major life lessons, but that makes it more important to start coming up with ideas now, so I won't be unprepared when the time comes.I'm not going to list basic principles like the Golden Rule, because those go without saying. In this post, I'd like to collect the ideas that … [Read more...]

We’re All In This Together: A Humanist Sermon

Certain recent events in my life have made me think about how human beings depend on each other. However privileged or fortunate you are, you're all but certain to eventually face a challenge you can't overcome alone and need other people's help to pull you through. And I don't just mean in a disaster or a crisis, but for everyday, ordinary things, the kind of situations that most of us can expect to encounter in the course of life.Having children is the perfect example, because it's such a … [Read more...]

Useless Money: A Humanist Sermon

This is 432 Park Avenue:It's the newest addition to the New York City skyline, an ultra-luxury residential skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. With a top height of almost 1400 feet, it's the tallest residential building in the world and the second tallest building in all of NYC, ahead of the Empire State Building, behind only the new One World Trade Center.Despite its neck-craning height (it actually required approval from the FAA), 432 Park Avenue has only 104 apartments. The first … [Read more...]

A More Diverse Humanism Is a Stronger Humanism

If you, like me, are tired of that obnoxious slogan "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist", there's good news: now you don't have to choose!To strengthen the humanist presence in social justice movements, today the American Humanist Association launched the Black Humanist Alliance, an adjunct organization that will promote racial justice and solidarity between the Black and humanist communities. In conjunction with the launch, the American Humanist Association is also relaunching its women's … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: February 20

• Last month, I wrote about Richard Dawkins being disinvited from NECSS for sexist comments. I'm disappointed but, in a sign of my cynicism, not overly surprised that NECSS has caved in and reinvited him. Needless to say, I won't be attending. Ophelia has more, and a follow-up.• In happier news, scientists at the LIGO detector confirm the existence of gravitational waves, a Nobel-worthy discovery if there ever was one. LIGO picked up the signal of two black holes colliding and … [Read more...]