This blog has been quiet a while. Partly, that’s because I’m busy: I recently moved to St. Louis and started a new job, and I’m struggling to finish a book and a doctoral dissertation. My time to blog has therefore been dramatically reduced. But it also reflects a lack of clarity in my own mind as to what this blog is about and how it fits into my work and life as a whole.
I started this blog when I was just beginning to be more active as a vocal Humanist. I wanted to give voice to a Humanism that was more well-rounded and passionate than much of the Humanist writing I was reading then. I wanted to address issues of social justice, explore Humanist aesthetics, engage in interfaith discussions, and challenge stereotypes about religion and the religious then popular in the atheist blogsphere. I wanted to stretch the idea of what Humanism could be, exploring ritual, music, narrative, community, and activism through a Humanist lens. While I was excited about atheism and combating the excesses and regressions of conservative religion, I wanted a Humanism which looked forward and helped people ask the biggest questions of human life, a Humanism which could stand alongside the world’s great religious traditions as a lifestance, complementing intellectual rigor with ethical commitment and aesthetic beauty.
It worked: I started to be invited to speak on Humanism partly because people were reading my blog, and some were excited by the direction I as moving. I’m grateful for the opportunities this blog has opened for me. As my speaking career took off, and I started being invited to Humanist communities around the USA (and in the UK), the blog served as a place to explore ideas which would then become talks,and a place to continue discussion after a visit was over. My ideas about Humanist community and congregations were formed on this blog in collaboration with readers who sent me thoughtful feedback. The dialogue I’ve had with my readers has improved my ideas and made me rethink many things, and I’m grateful for that, too. Now, I’m an established speaker and a professional Humanist. I work with a large congregation of Humanists just like the ones I’ve been writing and speaking about for so long.
In the last few years, as I’ve been visiting Humanist and atheist groups and conferences, I have noticed a significant shift in the movement. When I started out, talking about ritual, singing, community building, interfaith work, and activism was enough to get you laughed out of some atheist circles and called out on the blogs. I was accused of wanting to start a Humanist cult, of harboring a secret yearning for religious faith, and many other ridiculous things. But a younger generation of secular and Humanist activists is ascendant, and the minority voice I started this blog to present is increasingly mainstream. Interfaith work has caught on, service and activism is increasingly “just what you do”, and more and more groups are exploring music, ritual, narrative, and other ways to represent their values. The Humanist movement today is markedly bigger, more vibrant, more social justice oriented, more activist, and more beautiful than it was when I began writing.
So that leaves me with the question of what to do with this blog. I want to keep writing it – in fact I would like a bigger readership – and to do that I am going to transition to a daily posting regimen focused on a new set of topics. Instead of talking about Humanism – what it should be like, how it can grow, etc. – I want to talk about life, from the perspective of a Humanist. In this I am inspired by a quote by British Humanist Harold Blackham, who said:
Humanism is about the world. Not about Humanism.
That now is the motto of this blog. I intend to tackle all of life’s big questions through a Humanist lens, but not talk too much about the movement itself. Less inside baseball, more playing the game. To that end I’ve come up with a weekly posting schedule. Here it is:
Monday – Exploring Ethics
Ethics is the heart of Humanism. Humanism can be understood as the ongoing challenge of determining how best to live, without reference to god or the supernatural. On Monday I’ll tackle an ethical issue from a Humanist perspective – often one which will be addressed that week at the Ethical Society of St. Louis.
Tuesday – Transcend
Tuesday is a moment to reflect on Humanist “spirituality”. Here I will explore the mystical and transcendent elements of life – from a purely naturalistic viewpoint, of course. The touchstones here will be William James, Abraham Maslow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and others who have investigated the spiritual scientifically.
Wednesday – Act Out
Wednesday is all about activism. How do Humanist values live in the world? How can we make the world more Humanist? This is where I explore these questions. As a gay man I reserve the right to focus on LGBTQ issues frequently ;).
Thursday – Play
I’m a huge gamer geek. Gaming has been part of my life since I was a small child. But I hardly ever write about it. This ends now!
Friday – Forum
Here you get a chance to weigh in and I get a chance to relax: I’ll post a discussion question and see where it goes in the comments. In the future I might invite guest writers to fill this spot too. I want to promote provocative, robust, yet civil discourse.
Saturday – Beauty and Beyond
Aesthetics is a passion of mine, and here’s where I will explore the artistic side of life. Perhaps I’ll review a play, write about being a singer, or post something which I think is beautiful and related to Humanism somehow. And I understand “somehow” broadly.
Sunday – Congregate
Sunder is the day we come together at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, so it seems a good day to write about the experience of community from a Humanist perspective. What do Humanists want from community? What should we avoid? How much singing is appropriate? (If your answer is “none” we’re gonna have words…)
So that’s the schedule. I see this as a framework for me and a spur to post more regularly. My hope is to post every day, but when I don’t I will still stick to the schedule. I hope this will revive my interest in this blog, and thereby yours. I believe Humanism is more important now than ever before in human history, and I want this blog to be a platform for exploring life through the lens of that ethical, rational, and inspiring worldview.