Threads of 2018

Threads of 2018 December 31, 2018

The clock hand sweeps toward midnight, and the new year beckons on the horizon. But before looking ahead to 2019, let’s take one glance back at the themes of 2018 that was:

The Coming Collapse of Christianity

One of the most important, yet most underappreciated, trends is how rapidly the nation is secularizing. Whether they realize it or not, conservative Christians are hurtling toward a demographic brick wall. In January, I wrote about the least Christian generation in American history, and followed up in December with a report on the twilight of white American evangelicals.

The Catholic Church Does Bad Stuff

In January, I wrote about a modern-day Catholic theologian who defended the church’s right to kidnap a Jewish boy from his parents. Although said kidnapping took place in the medieval era a hundred and fifty years ago, his logic implies that the Vatican would be justified in doing the same today.

A bigger story that boiled over this year was the coverup of priestly child molesters. I wrote about the Pennsylvania grand jury that excoriated the church for decades of protecting pedophiles, and followed up with an even bigger and more comprehensive investigation that could spread to the entire nation. In September, a conservative archbishop directly accused Pope Francis of complicity.

Last but certainly not least, we glimpsed an equally huge and buried scandal: the rape and abuse of Catholic nuns at the hands of priests. I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this story.

Evangelical Christians Do Bad Stuff

As their numbers dwindle, American white evangelicals are becoming more open about their last-gasp embrace of racist, white supremacist politics. I wrote about the continued astounding hypocrisy of their hatred for immigrants and refugees. The movie The Shape of Water moved me to write about love and how it endures prejudice. I also had to snark about why moralizing, paranoid religious conservatives are the real snowflakes, in the pejorative sense of the word.

Atheists Do Bad Stuff

Sadly, the atheist movement hasn’t proven itself more enlightened than in previous years.

I wrote about the downfall of Lawrence Krauss and why atheists should have no idols. Although major secular organizations disavowed Krauss after evidence against him piled up, the problem hasn’t been solved, as we saw soon thereafter when American Atheists fired Dave Silverman for sexual misconduct. I also noted with glee that Richard Carrier lost his spite lawsuit against people who reported on allegations against him (some of which he admitted to himself).

Atheist misbehavior isn’t limited to the sexual realm. I wrote about Sam Harris’ coddling a racist and then exploding in anger when he received criticism for it. Harris is the latest big-name atheist who preaches logic and skepticism yet immediately blows his stack when faced with polite disagreement, a paradox I pondered the reasons for.

Lastly, I had to say a few words about my former guest author Sarah Braasch, who summoned the police on a fellow Yale student who happened to be a person of color. I said that I’d donate my blog revenue from that month to civil-rights groups, since this isn’t the kind of controversy I want to benefit from. I ended up donating $125 each to National Bail Out and the Equal Justice Initiative, and $100 each to Collective PAC and Color of Change.

As a postscript to this story, after publishing that statement, I reached out to Sarah to ask if she wanted to tell me her side of the story. She chose not to respond.

#MeToo and Misogyny

I wrote about what it means to believe women, a subject that too many men are determined to confuse themselves about.

Bloody headlines in the news led into a discussion of the danger of “incel” terrorism and the roots of this toxic, misogynist mindset.

Dystopia Journal

The U.S. is still under the thumb of a regime that’s bad in every conceivable way: racist and xenophobic, anti-intellectual, dominated by religious fundamentalism. I asked who the real Americans are and reported from one of the nationwide #FamiliesBelongTogether protests.

I reported on the Republican decimation of the public schools and the predictable consequence: their paranoid, fact-immune, conspiracy-obsessed worldview and their stubborn denial of science even in the face of imminent disaster.

The midterm elections were a modest victory, though not the landslide we might have hoped for. My new guest contributor Jim Haught described the reasons for that: evangelicals voted, “nones” faltered.

Good News from Around the World

While the U.S. grapples with fascism, good news is trickling in from abroad. I wrote about Ireland’s landslide repeal of its abortion ban, the come-from-behind victory of New Zealand’s feminist, secular prime minister Jacinda Ardern, the U.K.’s adding atheism to its school curriculum, brave women fighting theocracy in Iran, and the smash success of an anti-clerical comedy in Poland.

Atheist Parenting

My son turned 2 this year, and he’s rapidly becoming clever, verbal and curious. I’m still storing up lessons I’ll teach him in good time, like the true meaning of masculinity or what it means to be a moral person.

I wrote about why parents don’t own their children and grappled with the dilemma of what an atheist parent should say about Santa Claus.

The Fountainhead

My chapter-by-chapter review of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead is nearing its end. In 2018, I wrote about Rand’s embrace of stereotypes from Nazi propaganda and the shocking spectacle of a Jewish author with a fondness for eugenics. I also wrote about America’s history of racist housing policies like restrictive covenants and redlining.

Miscellaneous

I published a new book with Andrew Murtagh, Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City.

I began running a weekly series of guest posts by the venerable journalist and freethinker Jim Haught. I’m honored that he’s chosen Daylight Atheism as the venue for his large archive of writings, many of which have never been on the internet before. If you read just one piece of his this year, make it “No Qualms“.

And finally, I have one more announcement: not for the past, but for the future.

As I’ve hinted before, I’m writing a new book. It’s a dystopian sci-fi epic in a near future where America is a fiefdom ruled by billionaires and megacorporations, where the ninety-nine-point-nine percent are drowning in poverty and surrounded by the rising sea, and where a secret conspiracy plots to bring back the vanished era when people worked together and took care of each other.

Yes, it’s Atlas Shrugged for liberals.

The title of that book is Commonwealth. Beginning in 2019, I’m planning to serialize it through this site. Stay tuned for more!

Image credit: See-ming Lee, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 license


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