March 4, 2015

If you had to make a list of “things I care about right now,” near the top would definitely be “good writing” and “the American South.” I’ve been living in Durham, NC and working at Duke University for almost three years, and it’s been a fantastic place to make my home. I have a steady income, a low cost of living, access to arts and culture, and enough time to do some writing and reading on top of my work…. Read more

February 27, 2015

The New Yorker published a fantastic essay this morning by Robert Wright, a journalist and author of “The Evolution of God,” on a recent trend to emphasize ISIS’s Islamic roots. He begins: Last week, the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen published a piece under the headline “Islam and the West at War.” Something seemed amiss here. Surely a more-or-less liberal columnist at the Times wasn’t going to say what even George W. Bush was unwilling to say: that we are at war with Islam… Read more

February 26, 2015

The Yale Humanist Community, directed by NPS founder Chris Stedman, just announced a week of panels, trainings, discussions, and service projects to spark conversation and engagement with Humanism in and around the Yale community–and beyond. The second annual Humanism at Yale week will be from April 5 – 12 in New Haven, CT, and will explore everything in Humanism and Humanist living from celebrancy to service to its intersections with hip hop and storytelling. For detailed descriptions of all the events, you… Read more

February 25, 2015

Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic and friend of the blog, recently spoke to io9 about the future of the skeptic movement. I personally don’t associate much with the skeptic movement, but am glad to have people like Daniel involved. I feel like many people might not realize that a person can be a skeptic and have a sense of wonder and imagination. It kind of has a reputation for being a bit of a downer topic. But I’ve never viewed it that way. It’s… Read more

February 18, 2015

There are three marks to the traditional Catholic Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. When we think of Lent, we typically tend to focus on the fasting—giving up sweets, coffee, animal products, or whatever else. Leah Libresco at the Catholic Channel explains: Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent — the season of preparation for Easter.  The whole church fasts from meat on Fridays, during this season, and individual Catholics usually make personal commitments to give something up or take… Read more

February 18, 2015

It wasn’t until I started studying psychology that I began to see religion from less of a partisan stance and more from a scientific one. It’s too easy to be stuck in an “atheism good, religion bad” mentality, but I started to see religion in functional terms once I was out. Why do religions promote the beliefs they do? Why do certain rituals stick and not others? How did this collection of beliefs and practices help people become the people they want to be? There’s a… Read more

February 17, 2015

Microaggressions have been getting more attention lately, and Vox, modern home of explanatory journalism, has put together a helpful primer on the topic. Jenée Desmond-Harris writes: Microaggressions are more than just insults, insensitive comments, or generalized jerky behavior. They’re something very specific: the kinds of remarks, questions, or actions that are painful because they have to do with a person’s membership in a group that’s discriminated against or subject to stereotypes. And a key part of what makes them so disconcerting is… Read more

February 16, 2015

The first single from Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Steven’s forthcoming album and his first non-Christmas release since 2010, was released this morning. You can listen to it below: Stevens has never been shy about the Christian influences in his music, and “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” follows clearly in that tradition. Carrie & Lowell has been touted as Steven’s return to folk music, and it’s hard to pick an album I’m more excited for (though Purity Ring’s sophomore album,… Read more

February 16, 2015

Charlie Kurth, an assistant professor in philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, has a great essay at Aeon about the benefits of anxiety. He starts with some background: [J]ust how bad is anxiety, really? Is it just an unpleasant feeling to work through, or something worse? According to a very distinguished tradition, one that stretches all the way back through the Stoics and Aristotle to Plato, it is worse. Much worse. When we’re anxious, we fret and ruminate in ways… Read more

February 13, 2015

Philip Gourevitch at the New Yorker is skeptical about how we respond to the parking violation explanation: So there you have it. Some people are sensitive about parking. One such person stood his ground. Now three young innocents are dead, and he’s being held without bond in the county jail. A lamentable affair, but, told like that, shorn of all context, it’s not unlike a song on the radio, folkloric. Our imaginations are primed to grasp it. What’s hard to… Read more

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