Overheard at Dungeons and Dragons at my House

Sorry to be tardy posting this weekend.  I've had a lot on my plate (including a delightful Twelfth Night party, in which this chocolate bourbon cake was my answer to Sir Toby Belch's question "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?").You may remember that I have a group of friends who sometimes have me NPC (play an antagonist or ally) in their Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.  They last appeared on the blog, when they used an exuberantly strawmanned … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (2/1/13)

--- 1 --- It has been a busy week for me, so lets all kick back and enjoy some slow motion video of burning gasoline being thrown through the air.--- 2 --- Meanwhile, around the internet, some of my college chums had some great essays this month.  Helen Rittelmeyer has a great piece on the Leopold half of Leopold and Loeb: We know that Leopold was seduced by Nietzsche and then saved from death by Clarence Darrow’s closing statement, and it’s possible that he found faith, in his own way, … [Read more...]

What should we be hurt by?

Poking around the internet, I ran across two interesting articles that seemed to be linked only by offhand comments about the legitimacy or 'realness' of certain kinds of suffering.  First, from a Mother Jones piece on PTSD: Whatever is happening to Caleb, it's as old as war itself. The ancient historian Herodotus told of Greeks being honorably dismissed for being "out of heart" and "unwilling to encounter danger." Civil War doctors, who couldn't think of any other thing that might be un … [Read more...]

Watch me discuss the Ideological Turing Test at Chicago Ideas Week!

In October, I was one of the religion panelists at the Chicago Ideas Week conference. My co-panelists included Eboo Patel (interfaith activist), Lauren Drain (fled the Westboro Baptist Church), Theodore Ross (his family hid their Judaism) and Julia Sweeney (atheist and comic).Since we were a diverse group of people, my talk was on having better arguments about religious disagreements, instead of just agreeing to disagree.  My talk was based on some of the principles of curious, charitable … [Read more...]

Darren the Humanist Explains it All to You

This is a guest post, prompted my plea to hear more about how Humanists ground their philophies and people's interest in Darren's thought in the comments.  Thanks Darren for talking about what you defend!There was discussion on Leah’s blog of last week that the tenets of Humanism (or Secular Humanism, as I prefer) appear to lack a certain satisfying specificity. Having read through a few of the official manifestos, I am sympathetic to this view. It is all well and good to espouse Eq … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (1/25/12)

--- 1 --- Via io9, I found this beautiful, unconventionally animated story of a man who set off to kill Death.(Which naturally also reminded me of Mr. Teatime in Hogfather, which I heartily recommend). --- 2 --- Meanwhile in unconventional theatre news, First Things is reporting that a British theatre company is staging a sold-out production of John Rawls's A Theory of Justice: The Musical.  Here's the synopsis: In order to draw inspiration for his magnum opus, John Rawls travels back … [Read more...]

Yes, I am in favor of civil gay marriage!

It looks like folks thought I was being coy in Sunday's post about the knock-on effects of gay marriage.  In fact, I was trying to avoid having the "gay marriage: yay or nay" debate hijack the point I was making: that the advent of gay marriage has made people pause and ask exactly what marriage is instead of embracing or rejecting it in a knee-jerk way.  The argument I was making didn't have the moral stature of gay marriage as a premise, and I wanted it to discuss something orthogonal to the us … [Read more...]