Happy Birthday, Good Without God!

Happy Birthday, Good Without God! October 27, 2015

Today is the 6th birthday of my book Good Without God: What a Billion Non-Religious People Do Believe, as Humanist Hub Program Director Sarah Chandonnet kindly​ pointed out this morning. For the book’s birthday, I would love for you to simply read below to check out what we are doing at The Humanist Hub​ this month, regardless of whether you’re in position to attend. It’s an unprecedented month here, doing things little GwoG could not have envisioned back then…we are a true center for Humanist life these days, literally quite a bit larger and more active than the average American church or synagogue. See our newsletter for the month for details!

Good Without God

(More on the book: ABC World News interview with Dan Harris; NYTimes on the book tour and subway/billboard ad campaign; Fresh Air with Terry Gross

In addition to bringing together hundreds of people to pack 20,000 meals for food insecure local kids (all meals will go to the wonderful Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House!); we are hosting a full scale rock concert by a band whose work NPR featured as “sacred music” for atheists; we’re hosting perhaps the world’s most prominent atheist Buddhist to launch his book After Buddhism; we’re launching another new book called Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion and Joy — a Guide from the Humanist Community at Harvard, authored by our longtime volunteer leader Rick Heller and with a foreword from me; we’re hosting weekly Sundays programs with child care, including a big one from local community organizing hero Robbie Samuels, and one where I will reflect on the movement of Effective Altruism as a Humanist Value; our weekly Monday discussion group has blossomed into a warm, thriving and diverse community drawing an average of 25+ each week; our Harry Potter as a Secular Sacred Text course was even more packed, even before the New York Times wrote about it along with the “boomlet” of humanist Harvard Divinity students we’re working with; we’re launching our second anti-racism activism training course after the first was a huge hit this past summer; we’ve got a feminist men’s group; we’ve still got a mindfulness meditation group, going strong after 6 years of weekly Tuesday evening meetings; and now of course we have a sold-out secular Sunday school, with a series of videos and other resources well on their way to being designed for a national audience. All of the above events have been extremely well attended and are continuing to grow, most especially among millennials. In addition, this past month our chaplains and staff have worked on:

  • A funeral for the mother of a member;
  • Grief counseling for another member with a recently deceased parent;
  • An intervention with a graduate student struggling with suicidal thoughts;
  • Beginning to plan a Humanist Coming of Age ceremony and curriculum pilot for an 11 year old girl;
  • Planning multiple 2016 weddings for members;
  • Planning multiple welcoming ceremonies for the new babies of members;
  • Participating in a “peace walk” through at-risk neighborhoods in East Boston as part of my role on Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s Interfaith Advisory Council;
  • And many more little moments that may go less noticed but may be just as important in the lives of our community members.

We’ve also followed up on our public Town Hall meeting where we transparently discussed every aspect of the organization, from finances to programming decisions and much more, with anyone interested. Please feel free to request a copy of our Town Hall presentation slides, by writing to info at humanisthub dot org.

After Good Without God was published, I began to realize I would face a choice: whether to become primarily a national “talking head” about humanist community, or whether to focus the tremendous energy required to build a truly vibrant local community of humanists. There were a couple of years where I tried to do both. It was very hard. We accomplished a lot, but…

I am now at peace with the notion that I personally can do the most for humanism by working with all of you to build the most inspiring and meaningful community we can possibly imagine. Yes, our Sunday school curriculum development will remain a national initiative, and yes, we’ll still occasionally produce other outstanding national resources such as the Secular Meditation book. But our number goal is to be a beacon of humanism, so, if you’re local and you haven’t visited in awhile, check us out! And if you’re not local, plan to visit!

What else can I say? Well, if you’ve made it this far, perhaps you’d consider supporting us somehow. We’d love to have you as a formal member, and we very much need your tax deductible donations, as all of the above is the direct result of your financial support alone. WE GET ZERO FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM HARVARD– WE NEVER HAVE, AND NEVER WILL. The small endowment supporting our chaplaincy work for Harvard students gives us only $40,000 of our now $450,000 plus annual budget. The rest is up to you, and with more support, we can get better at documenting our work for others, even as we get better at doing it. Good Without God, you are the sum total of the work of so many, far beyond me. I’m proud to have been your midwife. And if all goes well you’ll have a sibling in about a year: The Godless Congregation, a book about community for the nonreligious from publisher Simon and Schuster, by myself and James Croft.

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