World Voice Day – Poetry and Prose

For World Voice Day 2014 – a celebration of the voice in all its facets – I’ve recorded some selections of poetry and prose requested by friends. There is some sad stuff, some happy stuff, some inspiring stuff, and some sexually explicit stuff (be warned!) – a whole range. Enjoy! World Voice Day – Poetry [Read More...]

How to Check Your Privilege in 5 Excruciating Steps

Dialogue

Recently, I changed my mind. Challenged over my uncritical reposting of a secular argument against abortion, I was forced to examine my assumptions, reflect on my identity, and consider how my actions might look from a different vantage point – in other words, I “checked my privilege”. The exhortation to “check your privilege” is common in [Read More...]

On the Privilege of Discussing Abortion

In April 2012 I was asked by a Secular Student Alliance affiliate to represent the pro-choice side in a debate on the morality of abortion at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I was wary to accept. As a gay man, I reasoned I was less likely than most to be intimately affected by a [Read More...]

Cosmos – Epistemic, Existential, Ethical, and Aesthetic

cosmo

My bio as a Humanist speaker ends with the words “James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan, and Star Trek” - and it’s true. When I discovered the works, words, and worlds of Carl Sagan, my world flew open. I’ve written about his unique approach to science, Humanism, and the big questions of life, and I’ve spoken [Read More...]

A Humanist Conception of Evil

“Evil” the most powerful term of moral condemnation. Worse than “wrong”, “bad”, or even “wicked”, saying something – an act or an individual – is “evil” is the most forceful negative evaluation we have access to in the ethical sphere. The word carries connotations which makes some atheists and Humanists concerned. Some worry that it [Read More...]

The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook – Distinguishing the Epistemic and the Persuasive

Evangelizing

The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook is a guide to evidence-based activism for atheists, agnostics, Humanists, and all freethinkers, designed to help us communicate better. Current posts in the series include: The Freethinkers’ Political Textbook – Evidence-Based Atheist Activism Go for the Gut – On the role of emotion in persuasion Framing for Freethinkers - Introducing Lakoff’s concept of [Read More...]

Dan Savage: I’m Not One to Judge

Compassion

I like Dan Savage. I like him a lot. I think his podcast is extremely funny, his writing  witty and deft, and I think the It Gets Better Project – despite its problems – was a stroke of genius. When he speaks to people during his podcast, or during a live show, there is so often the [Read More...]

Sort of Like “Camp Quest” for Grownups – Adventures in Humanist Community!

Walkway_03

Edit: I’ve been asked to make clear that the reference to “Camp Quest” in the title of this post was metaphorical – this retreat is sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the American Ethical Union, not Camp Quest. Ever wanted to spend a week in a mountain lodge, ziplining and hiking in-between rousing discussions of freethought, Humanism, [Read More...]

Responsible Religious Criticism: Part Two – What is a “Religion”?

brain

Part of a Series on Responsible Religious Criticism Part One – Questions of Power Update: I edited the section on beliefs, values, and practices to be more (I hope) accurate to the great diversity of religions in the world When engaging in any sort of criticism, it is essential to know what one is criticizing. [Read More...]

Responsible Religious Criticism: Part One – Questions of Power

brain

Provoked, as so often, by adorably elfin blogger Vlad Chituc, I’ve decided to codify some of my thoughts regarding the responsible criticism of religion, and particularly responsible criticism of Islam. This is a topic which has sometimes divided the freethought community: some see Islamophobia in some of the criticism which prominent atheist writers direct toward aspects [Read More...]