Lawrence Cosentino, a reporter for the Lansing, Michigan alternative newspaper City Pulse, was a guest at the recent Michigan Atheists convention. It’s an interesting read considering he’s clearly never been to one of these gatherings before.
- We like our bumper stickers:
- We like our supernatural disasters:
- We like our engineers:
- We don’t like hugs:
It was tempting to infer divine displeasure from a lot of things that happened at the 2008 Michigan Atheists convention on Saturday, Dec. 6, beginning with the weather. All morning, furious sheets of snow whipped the bumper stickers in the parking lot: “Darwin Loves You.” “Hell Don’t Scare Me, Pat Robertson Do.” “When Religion Ruled, We Called It The Dark Ages.”
At least I knew I was in the right place.
Atheists and adversity seem to go together, like St. Lawrence the martyr and a hot grill.
In the early afternoon, during the screening of a film, a ceiling light socket burst open and water poured into the auditorium. Later, during an awards ceremony, the American Atheists logo (an atom cut off at the bottom to make a big “A”) fell off the wall.
The hardy freethinkers took perverse delight in each new omen.
“It’s a sign,” snickered several members as somebody scrambled to put the logo back up.
Engineers seemed to make up a large proportion of the group. Douglas Campbell of Ferndale, a recently laid-off electrical engineer at General Motors, said he doesn’t come to all the annual meetings, and found some of the day’s speeches “redundant,” but still likes to check in every so often.
“I’m not an evangelical atheist,” Campbell said. Not that he’s bashful. He proudly took part in the 2002 Godless Americans’ March on Washington, D.C.
It wasn’t the warmest group, to be sure. I only saw one hug all day, when [Michigan Atheists Director] Arlene-Marie embraced her friend [Edwin] Kagin, the lawyer, before his talk, the day’s last.
Kagin probably needed a hug. He has the unenviable job of keeping the atheist flag flying in his hometown of Union, Ky.
It doesn’t look like Cosentino is coming back anytime soon, either:
At that point, a pair of small batteries in my pocket — meant to used as a spare for my camera — completed a circuit with my car keys. Hot stigmata stung my right thigh. Recalling St. Lawrence and the grill, I fled the room and turned my pockets out into the hallway.
When the spirit moves, you move with it.
Entertaining article, though, featuring the goings-on at one atheist convention — kooks and all.