Writing vs. Talking

What I've always hated about writing, long as I can remember, is sitting down in front of a computer, facing an empty screen, and having to type. I just freeze up—it’s the most excruciating experience. In that situation my subconscious mind calls up  the idea of every great piece of writing that was ever written  and my standards are so high–okay, my perfectionism can get so overblown– that it's like my fingers physically won't let my brain type anything they fear might not be the exact t … [Read more...]

Festivals of Life and Renewal

Then the earth comes back to life. Nature resurrects itself. That is the real story of Easter, and it’s why the Easter and Passover season is probably my favorite of the year if I had to choose. Every year I’m amazed by the way the way it happens again: no matter what is going wrong in my life, the season almost magically provides reasons to view life sunnily. That’s just how nature works. It finally provides more light, more oxygen, every year. So why wouldn’t we want to tell old stories that ca … [Read more...]

What is(n’t) a Humanist Community?

After a practice run in early March followed by a particularly busy period, it looks like I'm finally just about ready to start blogging more. And just in time to share some results from a new little talk I gave last weekend. In it, I began to explore how we might define Humanist community in the 21st century. In recent years there have been several excellent short definitions of what Humanists believe. And over decades we've seen many important forms of Humanist community emerge: Ethical … [Read more...]

Meditation 6: The Things We’ve Handed Down

I'm exhausted and wondering how the hell bloggers do it. We've had such a long day here in Los Angeles. An orientation session where we got to know fellow participants on this Spring Break Service Trip; then a long drive out to California Lutheran University where we packed hundreds of meals for the young people we'll be serving later this week at Safe Place for Youth (Cal Lutheran has become a hotbed of Humanism ever since MA native Evan Clark came out here, founded a Secular Student Alliance … [Read more...]

Meditation 5: Love After Love

There are some rare days where, thanks to good friends or good will or just good luck, or all of the above, you can be thousands of miles from home and yet feel you have arrived at a safe haven, a place where you can be completely yourself, and your best self at that.Spring Break, for the past couple of years, has been one of those times for me. Living in university communities for basically my entire adult life, this week has always been a bit of an oasis for me, usually a time to travel … [Read more...]

Meditation 4: Virtues in the Void

I had a great discussion of Humanism tonight with the Pomona Student Union, in an event the Pomona students decided to call "Virtues in the Void". I was so impressed with the depth of the questions the students asked.Here are several-- the last few in particular will be provocative for anyone who is trying to explore what it means to be good without god:The title of “Chaplain” is traditionally associated with a religious identity, yet as a Humanist chaplain you work with non … [Read more...]

The Wisdom of Balance

Recently I participated in a radio debate with Dr. PZ Myers, a popular blogger on science and atheism, on the topic of "How Should the Atheist Movement Talk About Religion?" Give the program a listen if you haven't yet. It's a worthwhile hour-- Myers is a passionate, articulate, and entertaining voice for atheism, and I enjoyed the give and take with him.A few things surprised me about this particular conversation. It was the first time I've engaged with PZ live and in public, and he … [Read more...]

Meditation 3: The Peace of Wild Things

Right now the Humanist Community Project is in the midst of a 3-day intensive training seminar. We're helping 18 students who want to work as Humanist celebrants, officiating at Humanist wedding, funeral, baby welcoming, and other ceremonies. There are very few training opportunities for such folks in the US today, despite the fact that it is hard, complicated (and ultimately extremely rewarding) work, for which there is a great demand. Hopefully programs like ours can help grow Humanist … [Read more...]

Meditation 2: Erich Fromm’s Faith in Humanist Ethics

The word "faith" is making the rounds in Humanist discussion circles for the bazillionth time this week. Here's a reading on ethics by one of my favorite Humanist philosophers-- Erich Fromm, another psychologist from the mid 20th century. Fromm had many, many inspiring things to say about the Humanist's pursuit of a meaningful life. (And BTW, unlike a lot of other influential secular thinkers, Fromm actually used the word Humanism throughout his work! Sometimes we Humanists underestimate the … [Read more...]

Meditation 1: Prometheus and Rollo May

For a first meditation, I figured what better than the myth of Prometheus, as interpreted by Rollo May, one of my favorite humanistic psychologists. Let's just dive into May's words, from his 1975 book The Courage to Create:In ancient Greek civilization, there is the myth of Prometheus, a Titan living on Mount Olympus, who saw that human beings were without fire. His stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humankind is taken henceforth by the Greeks as the beginning of … [Read more...]