Religion and politics – two subjects we are admonished to avoid discussing at all costs. But what about irreligion and politics? How does the life stance of Humanism intersect with the political sphere? Are there political views that are mandatory for Humanists, part of the definition of the term? Is Humanism necessarily political? Or can Humanism as a philosophy stand aloof from political concerns and embrace the whole range of political perspectives? [Read more...]
I’ve just written another post on the 9/11 cross controversy, which I find particularly interesting as a philosopher of aesthetics and symbolism. You can find it here:
http://www.stateofformation.org/2011/08/museum-or-memorial-and-why-it-matters-thoughts-on-religious-symbolism/ [Read more...]
Most American are religious. Most of those religious people are Christian. Isn’t it understandable that in a time of enormous suffering people who are religious, and whose religion is commonly represented by the symbol of a cross, will latch onto a cross-shaped piece of rubble and ascribe significance to it and draw strength from it? I understand it. I think many non-Christians can understand it. Now what if you wanted to put this cross in a museum? What if you wanted to record it as part of the history and narrative of the 9/11 attacks, and our response to them? And what if the museum, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, is supported by public money and on public land?
American Atheists, Inc. says no. I say yes, and loudly. [Read more...]
While Humanists frequently voice our commitment to a set of humanitarian values, often our most high profile movement efforts are related to defending the barrier between church and state: lawsuits against the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, or against the National Day of Prayer, for instance. I can’t help but wonder, laudable though these efforts are, if the resources we devote to them might do more good – for humanity and our cause – if they were temporarily diverted to humanitarian work which directly improved the lives of our fellows.
Instead of crafting a movement which is (Good) Without God, let’s endeavor to be Good (Without God). [Read more...]
A continuously updated live blog of the Center for Inquiry’s Leadership Conference 2011, held in Buffalo, NY. [Read more...]
On Saturday (15th June) I spoke at the Boston Pride Interfaith Service at Old South Church, a service designed to show support for the LGBTQ community. I was asked to provide a reading to preface the offering, which was held in support of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). I chose to read a poem by Algernon D. Black, formerly a leading light in the Ethical Culture movement. [Read more...]
I admit it – when I’m discussing with others, I want to win. But I don’t just want to defeat my opponents. I want to convince them. I yearn to persuade. And that passion, that fire, is no stronger than when I’m talking about Humanism. So it’s no surprise that, recently, a friend approached me after a panel I had spoken on and told me “James, you know what? You’re an evangelical. An evangelical Humanist.”
My friend was right. [Read more...]
You work for Believe Out Loud, a group which seeks to promote full LGBT equality within Christian churches. It’s approaching Mother’s Day, and you want to send a message saying that, whoever you are, you should be welcome in Church that Sunday. You put together an ad showing two women, holding hands, walking their smiling son down the aisle of a church. You want to promote it widely, so you buy up ad space on Sojourners, famed “progressive Christian” website and movement, and wait for your call for love, inclusion and acceptance to light up the web.
And Sojourners spits in your face. [Read more...]
“I do not know how to prove physically, that we shall meet and know each other in a future state; nor does Revelation, as I can find, give us any positive assurance of such a felicity. My reasons for believing it, as I do most undoubtedly, are that I cannot conceive such a being could make such a species as the human, merely to live and die on this earth. If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God. This Universe, this all would appear, with all of its swelling pomp, a boyish firework.” – John Adams
To this, a Humanist reply: in the words of noted philosopher Katy Perry, “Baby, You’re a Firework!”
This post originally appeared at State of Formation, an interfaith community blog. [Read more...]
Outside the White House, citizens gathered to wave American Flags and chant “USA! USA!” At Ground Zero and Times Square people came out in droves. Right now as I type people are pressing onto the T in Boston, heading to the Common. Heading to celebrate the death of another human being.
This leads me to question, as a Humanist: Do some people deserve to die? Is it ever right to celebrate the death of another human person? [Read more...]