So, How Exactly Should Atheists Celebrate the Holidays?

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This past Sunday at the Humanist Hub, I gave a talk-- more like led a discussion-- on "Holiday Magic (for Atheists)." It's our first time celebrating this season in an open, membership-based community of atheists, agnostics and allies who have their own space. The talk/discussion was dedicated to figuring out how we feel about this time of year, what it means for us, and what we want to do (and not do) about it.Here's a sample of what the group came up with in response to the question, "what … [Read more...]

The Language of Humanism


The Humanist Community at Harvard recently held a celebration of the first anniversary of the opening of The Humanist Hub, our 3200 square foot, open-to-the-public "Center for Humanist Life" in the heart of Harvard Square. It's been an amazing year at the Hub, and one of the reasons I'm most excited to re-launch this blog is to be able to share more of what we're doing there to help invent the concept community space for atheists, agnostics, and allies.Anyway, the anniversary event featured … [Read more...]

On Grief, Winter, and Kindling Lights


On Wednesday December 17, I had the honor of being one of two invited speakers at the annual Candle Lighting Service at the historic and very beautiful Mount Auburn Cemetery. All 600+ families who held burials at the Cemetery this past year were invited; in addition, there are families who've been attending every year for many years. Though I do regularly perform funerals for members of my community, over most of the past decade I've worked primarily with Harvard students (still do, but we are n … [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...]