Thursday morning reading list


Video editing is going to keep us apart a little more than I’d like today. But before I let my work sit on my face and pass gas like an evil sibling, I thought you deserved something to keep you busy.

Everyone likes READING!

  • Carol Putnam discusses, “Does God Hate Women?” over at exChristian.net. Nothing new, but definitely a reminder.
  • PZ Myers started a land war with another skeptic named Stephen Asma. PZ responded to something Asma wrote here. And then PZ responded to a response from Asma here. I feel shitty for only posting the PZ stuff, but you know how biased I am in a rush I am.
  • Hemant Mehta doesn’t agree with Christians when they say, “Stop loving gay people.
  • Ted Haggard steps into the limelight again with his member in his hand. Unloads on GQ. GQ must be hurting for sales.
  • Infographic on the sheer size of the Internets. Cower in its shadow, kids. There’s more spam mail out there than you ever knew.
  • Yours truly gets battered plugged on his new “Christian” friend’s blog. The conversation is worth reading. I need to post the facebook conversation soon. It’s thrilling.

Above: A hipstamatic self portrait art directed by my niece and used on “Christian” web sites to show how evil we atheists are.

 

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Things that make you scratch your noggin


Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta posted this cartoon this morning. I’m reposting it here.

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If you haven’t read his blog lately, check out this post talking about a pastor who swindles bank account information from his congregation. How gullible do you have to be before waking up? I can’t post these kinds of videos here, so go over to Mehta’s blog and tell ’em I sent ya.

A couple more thoughts about the Morality to Change the World Panel


I wrote a knee-jerk response about the “Morality to Change the World” panel that I went to on Friday night.

I had a couple more thoughts about it as time passed this weekend.

  1. Call to action. There was a unanimous response from the panel that if you support a concept strongly, you should be active in the pursuit of promoting whatever it is you support. The encouragement was to learn all you can about a position and “fight” for it. By fight I mean non-violent pursuit of disseminating information.
  2. There is intelligent belief. Should I have had mentors who promoted the forms of belief like Bob Bossie’s, perhaps I would have been less likely to head toward atheism. One questioner asked Bossie why would he associate himself with the Catholic church when there is so much negative associated with it (e.g. pedophilia, corruption, greed, etc.). Bossie’s response was that he directs his attention to the people and their collective pursuit of truth. I may have thought Bossie dodged the question that night. But the more I think about it, I believe he was giving his most honest answer to the question, and I like his answer now. I said it before, but the sheer fact that Bossie accepts science and doesn’t create superfluous rift between perspectives that do not agree with his, I find this to be an important position to take should religionistas care to be taken seriously. It didn’t mean he rolled over and didn’t criticize communism. It just meant he approached the perspective from an intelligent point of view.
  3. It’s important to have strong leadership. I was critical of Sunsara Taylor in my previous post. I said her verbosity worked against her. I have to say, though, she is a strong speaker. She speaks with clarity and vision. Should I be communistically inclined, I would find her charisma and knowledge base admirable. I could find myself following her lead should I hold communistic ideals sacred. That’s not to say she’s not verbose. It’s that there is something great about her, and her cause is better because she’s a part of it. If you’re not helping lead your movement with this kind of oomph, get behind those who are doing it and support them as well as you can.
  4. Dialogue. Between Friday night’s panel and Saturday night’s discussion at Moody Church with Hemant Mehta and Ronald Danatus, dialogue is key. And I’m not talking dialogue with argument or debate. I’m talking dialogue. There seems to be a lot of ignorance regarding atheism from the Christian perspective. In fact, it looks like Christians have lots to learn about other perspectives, and the Moodies have figured that out and are finally pursuing avenues of education. The best way to empathize with another perspective is NOT to take what you hear in the media or from the pulpit as truth. The best method is sitting down with someone. I firmly believe, you can’t hate someone you sat down with. And you certainly can’t hate someone you share a meal with. Gastronomy is the ultimate ground leveler.

It’s most important to sit down and talk tête a tête with oppositional points of view. On facebook, there was a response to Mehta’s blog response about Moody Church that said something about atheists are poked and prodded like aliens. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I find this is a major factor of atheism. It’s a show of ignorance on our part. From the inside, we’re all saying, “D’uh, we’re able to love and be moral.” But from the outside, our marketing and brand color us as baby-eating, Christian-hating, immoral fiends.

We have an ugly stereotype that only we can change. And change comes from dialogue and passing along information. It’s hard work. Why do large corporations spend so much to present their brands? Because it’s really fucking hard to get people’s attention let alone change perspectives.

Read all the blogs you want. There is a call to action, and if you’re a believer or not, it is your duty to pursue the truth you seek, and that includes constant pursuit of education and passing around accurate and effective information.

Breaking myself from work tonight to see a panel discussion


Tonight I’m going to go see a panel discussion at UIC. Title of the discussion is Morality to Change the World. I’m bringing my camera and I’m hoping to get some shots. Hemant Mehta is planning on being there. I hope you decide to show up too.

Here are the details:

A Communist, a Scientist, and A Priest Sat Down to Discuss…Morality to Change the World

With Sunsara Taylor, PZ Myers, and Bob Bossie, SCJ
Theodore Jennings, moderator

Friday, April 16, 2010
7:00-9:30 PM

University of Chicago
Reynolds Club
Hutchinson Commons
5706 S. University Avenue

Bob Bossie, SCJ, is a member of the international Catholic order of Priests of the Sacred Heart and a 30 year staff member of the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago , where he works on issues of peace, human rights, economic justice and non-violence. He has spoken and traveled widely (the Middle East, Latin America), and has been arrested and jailed on numerous occasions for engaging in non-violent resistance actions. As a founding member of Voices in the Wilderness, he traveled to Iraq with medical supplies in direct violation of US/UN sanctions against that country.

Theodore (Ted) Jennings is Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary. In addition to courses in New Testament and Theology he teaches courses in Queer theory, Marxist theory, and Deconstruction.

PZ Myers is an associate biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and the author of the most-widely read science blog Pharyngula. PZ works with zebrafish in the field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and also cultivates an interest in cephalopods. He is a public critic of intelligent design (ID) and of the creationist movement in general and is an activist in the creation-evolution controversy. PZ Myers is an outspoken atheist and vocal skeptic of all forms of religion, superstition, and pseudoscience.

Sunsara Taylor is a writer for Revolution Newspaper, a host of WBAI’s Equal Time for Free Thought, and sits on the Advisory Board of World Can’t Wait. She has written on the rise of theocracy, wars and repression in the U.S., led in building resistance to these crimes, and contributed to the movement for revolution to put an end to all this. She takes as her foundation the new synthesis on revolution and communism developed by Bob Avakian. You can find her impressive verbal battles with Bill O’Reilly and various political commentary on things from abortion to religion by searching “Sunsara Taylor” on youtube.

Co-sponsored by

Chicago Theological Seminary • Revolution Books • U of C Philosophy Club • Secular Student Alliance U of C

FOX News: Atheists Meet With White House


From Hemant Mehta the Friendly Atheist:

I was there. Sean Hannity wasn’t.

So why is he acting like he knows what happened at the Secular Coalition for America’s briefing with Obama Administration officials?

Hannity: The Obama administration earlier today rolled out the red carpet for a coalition of atheist groups. Now, among the individuals in attendance was Michael Newdow. That’s the California man who sued unsuccessfully to have the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, religious groups, however, have not received this kind of treatment from the Obama White House. Now, last year, the President distanced himself from the National Day of Prayer, cancelling the formal service traditionally held in honor of the day and refusing to attend a Catholic prayer breakfast. So what’s going on? Has the administration demonstrated a pattern of hostility towards religion, or is this merely a coincidence?

There was no red carpet.

There was no Michael Newdow in attendance (not that there would have been anything wrong with that).

Religious group have indeed received the same — in fact, far better — treatment from the Obama administration.

Hannity is doing with conservatives do best: Taking a headline, stretching it past the point of falsehood, and getting his base all riled up.

Note that the majority of the segment has nothing to do with the issue at hand. They don’t talk about atheists or the administration meeting with us. They just use it as a launching pad to trash the president.

By the way, at no point did FOX News ask the Secular Coalition for America for a response to their claims. But I’m sure we would love the chance.

Naked Pastor, Embracing my Atheist


Naked Pastor David Hayward

Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta turned me on to the Naked Pastor. Mehta’s been posting NP’s cartoons from time to time. They really are great.

The Naked Pastor is David Hayward, and his blog says this about him: “David Hayward is an artist trapped in a pastor’s body, stripping to the essential.”

I really should buy the Naked Pastor a beer after this one. He’s been writing about his “inner atheist.” You have to give it to the guy, he explores his faith in such excruciating depth that he’s not afraid to do and say things that no other pastor I’ve ever experienced would do. That’s not to say these kinds of pastors don’t exist; I simply haven’t heard of them.

This post struck me. It’s titled, “Embracing my Atheist.” You should read it.

He writes:

I validate those who never sense God’s presence. I see honor in rejecting gods. It takes nerve to topple idols and walk away from falsehood. It is fearless to detach oneself from people who cherish counterfeit and peddle snake oil. And I think it sometimes takes courage to be an atheist. I embrace atheists, for in many ways I am one myself.

Go read his words. I don’t want anyone claiming I quoted him out of context. You should also read the part that’s linked in the quote. It’s another post called “My Inner Atheist.”

While I’m telling you a bunch of “you shoulds” … you should to go read the comments to the posts.

Some of the responses show that the individuals don’t understand Hayward. They are written from the perspective of people who are still too afraid to question their faith. Then there are honest replies from a couple people who really have looked at atheism and retained their faith. Still there are others who have questioned their faith, put it down and embraced atheism.

This, dear readers, is a Christian whom I have utmost respect for. I don’t care if he becomes an atheist. For his sake and his flock, I hope he keeps faith for all time.

I don’t care if you are a believer and become an atheist. My goal on this blog is to reflect what I see with a twist. They aren’t always original ideas. But that’s a simple view of how I see Le Café’s purpose.

Why do I have respect for Hayward? He questions. He searches. He’s honest. He’s critical of his personal beliefs and the beliefs of others.

But most of all, Hayward doesn’t come from the standpoint that he’s got both hands around truth that’s superior to mine.

When I read the Naked Pastor, he has a way of humbling me to reconsider my tone. He doesn’t cause me to reconsider my stance, that’s something I do on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I’m constantly asking myself questions whether I feel more right or more wrong today than yesterday.

No, Hayward makes me think about what the best tone may be for presenting the details.

In laziness, I become indignant.

The question is whether a calm voice can be heard when exploring the realms of belief and non-belief.

What do you think?

***UPDATE****

I forgot that I wanted to post an example of the Naked Pastor’s work. Bon appétit!