I’ve finally gotten to hear Anthony Pinn’s talk from Skepticon. Sadly, due to a conflict in Pinn’s schedule, he couldn’t be on until I was so far out into the middle of Nebraska that I didn’t even have the cell signal to follow the talk on Twitter. But (but!) talks from Skepticon are recorded, so we all get the benefit.
Here’s the talk, and a few of my comments are below the fold.
Pinn started his talk by telling us that if we want to understand how to reach out to a group of people, we need to begin by listening to those people. He then launched into a story that sounded very much like the story I heard from Teresa MacBain, like the story I heard from Jerry DeWitt.
That’s not surprising. A person who feels called to preach then later decides they can’t do so is going to have a certain amount in common with someone else in the same situation. That’s why something like The Clergy Project works. People support each other based on those commonalities. Of course, The Clergy Project wasn’t around when Pinn was going through his crisis of faith.
Then Pinn got to the part where he told us what it was that he couldn’t reconcile, what drove him away from religion. It wasn’t irreconcilable theology or biblical contradiction. It was that his religion offered him no way to ethically help the people hurting in his community.
Similarly, the reasons that nonbelievers don’t leave their religions and their churches–and thus, what we need to do if we want to attract them–are very different for the black nonbelievers. At the same time, however, what we need to do to make them feel welcome isn’t all that different than what we do for each other.
A note about the end of the video. There are already comments grossly misunderstanding Pinn’s comment that giving up privilege should hurt if you’re doing it right. That doesn’t mean grovelling. It doesn’t mean constant apology. Why would it? How would that make anyone feel more comfortable or welcome?
What it does mean is giving up some control and dealing with some situations that are made for someone who isn’t you. (Remember, privilege is largely a matter of living in a world that coddles your oddities to the point that you don’t notice them.) Whether you think that’s going to “hurt” is largely a question of how attached to those things in the first place, but you’ll definitely feel them.
Of course, so will the people we keep saying we want in our movements, and that’s kind of the point.
Note: If you can help transcribe these talks to make them accessible to the deaf and people without an hour to spare, Kate is looking for volunteers. No one has claimed this talk yet.