While there were many fantastic speakers at the World Humanist Congress, this was the first time that most of my personal highlights took place outside the lecture halls and breakaway sessions.
(Lobbying Congress on behalf of the rights of the non-religious and church/state separation makes for some entertaining stories.)
Some of the more memorable moments from the weekend:
- Some guy came up to the Secular Student Alliance booth I was sitting at… I looked up and saw Philip Pullman, the man who wrote His Dark Materials trilogy (which includes The Golden Compass)!
- I met my Congresswoman, Judy Biggert (and not just her staff members). She’s a Republican. That said, she agreed with the Secular Coalition for America on the two issues I was there to lobby for — stopping proselytizing by military chaplains as well as not re-authorizing the DC voucher program — so all was well:
- Barack Obama wasn’t able to meet with us (he’s apparently “busy” or something…). But that didn’t stop me from ogling and petting and bowing down to the plaque just outside his office.
- When I looked across the hall from Senator Obama’s office, I saw a sign about gay marriage sitting in the office window of some (presumably Republican) senator:
- One job I had was to run a panel discussion on the topic: “What are the best ways to get people to value scientific and critical inquiry, naturalism, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics?”
Rapper Greydon Square couldn’t make it because he was being detained elsewhere… however, (left to right in the pic below) Jeff Nall, Kelly O’Connor, Matt Cherry, and Greg Epstein were fantastic in answering the questions.
As you can see from the pre-panel pictures below (courtesy of Rebecca), I was trying to be very serious while the panelists kept it real.
I spoke to him about whether the second and third movies are coming out. He said it wasn’t likely, adding that the little girl who played the main character in The Golden Compass was getting older by the day. He disagreed with the notion that the movie “bombed” — it didn’t made a lot in the US (~$70m) but it made a considerable amount overseas (~300m). He seemed angry at the movie studio for not going through with the trilogy. I would be, too, I guess.
There were some great presentations made, too, and I’ll write about a couple of these soon enough.