A Songwriter and an Astrophysicist See the Universe as a Beach Ball: A Beautiful Riff on Intergalactic Isolation

For decades now, scientists — at SETI and elsewhere — have been sending signals into space for the express purpose of contacting distant civilizations. We have yet to hear anything back.

In this simple, beautiful, Saganesque musing on the vastness of space and time, singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey explores why — with an appreciative nod to his friend Vlad, an astrophysicist. Mulvey’s performance took place at the Kaufman Center in Kansas City, Missouri, this summer, as part of the TEDxKC conference. It isn’t an atheism-related video, per se, but its poetic emphasis on the insignificance of our “pale blue dot,” in the scheme of things, might give pause to theists who believe that Earth is the pinnacle of Creation:



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After Teen Jesus, Another Halloween Costume Controversy: Seven-Year-Old in Virginia Dresses as KKK Member

“It’s supposed to be white with white. Black with black. Man with woman and all of that,” Jessica Black of Craigsville, Virginia, explained to her local TV station. A reporter had asked her why she would let her seven-year-old son dress as a KKK member for Halloween — and her answer was, in part, that it’s a valued family tradition. Nothing wrong with the Ku Klux Klan, Ms. Black emphasized.



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William Lane Craig: The Church is Getting Too ‘Feminized’

Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig has revealed on his blog that he is scared that religion is taking a turn for the feminine:

Nowhere is this feminization more evident than in contemporary worship music. Someone aptly remarked that if you were to replace references to God in many praise songs with “Baby,” they would sound just like romantic songs between a man and a woman! This is not true of classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress” or “And Can It be?” Talking with young men, I find that many of them are just turned off by these touchy-feely worship services and would rather not go.

Yeah! Remember back in the old days when worship music was strong and manly? You know why the number of young “Nones” is growing? Music. All music.

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Mayor of Mini-Theocracy Sought Government Advice From Convicted Child Rapist Warren Jeffs

It’s not every day that the mayor of a U.S. town seeks the guidance of a convicted sex criminal, especially in matters of the law. Enter George M. Allred, who wrote gushing letters to polygamist Warren Jeffs (pictured below) of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, soliciting Jeffs’ help in pressing government business — such as the hiring of a new police chief. (Jeffs, as you may recall, is serving a life sentence for sexual assaults on girls aged 12 and 15.)

The Salt Lake Tribune has the story:

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Jehovah’s Way: At the First Sign of Their Religious Doubt, Freeze Out Your Own Flesh and Blood

This is a cell phone picture of blogger Rick Gonzalez‘s dad, demonstratively not sharing a meal with his son and with Lucas, his four-year-old grandson.

The elder Gonzalez is a Jehovah’s Witness. After his son expressed doubts about the movement, its Watchtower Governing Body promptly ordered the father to shun Rick and Lucas. This is how Rick tells it:

After my mother died eight months ago, my dad, being all alone, went to the elders in the congregation he attended to see if he’d be allowed to visit with me. They said that since I was his son, he could visit with me at his house. But he could not discuss religion – nor could he share a meal with me at the same table.

Two weeks ago, I called my dad and asked if his grandson and I could visit him. He said “yes” and even offered to make lunch. But shortly before serving the meal, he said that he wasn’t going to sit at the same table with us. When I asked why, his reply was, “The organization says so.”

So at lunchtime, Gonzalez père took his plate and situated himself with his back to two of the people in the world who he loves the most. Because his cult told him that this is God’s way.

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