Volunteers Are Awesome

CONvergence was this past weekend. It was generally wonderful. I was finally able to meet people I’ve admired and interacted with for years. I was able to take some time with old and dear friends and some with newer friends I only see in Beigeland. I enjoyed a parade of cosplay that were works of art and imagination and absurdity, including the tiniest Harley Quinn, who lives only in my memory because she wasn’t there to have her picture taken. I had great discussions with complete strangers that other people seemed to find helpful. I entertained and educated.

I also missed some people I really wanted to see entirely and got to speak only a few words to others. I left a wedding reception early. I let some ugly and harmfully wrong things that were said pass or be marked only with a broad disagreement. I missed out on other discussions I know would have been fascinating. I dealt with a remarkable number of men who implied I was worth more if I didn’t look my age, one of whom–a complete stranger–put his hand on my shoulder “comfortingly” while saying it. I went with little sleep and came home with minor injuries.

All that happened because I volunteered. [Read more…]

A Little Background on the Secular Policy Institute (Updated)

A few months back, organizations I’m part of started receiving invitations from the Secular Policy Institute.

The Secular Policy Insititute is the world’s biggest secular think tank, where Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, and dozens more spread secularism.

Now we’re pushing Congress and would like to list [organization] as supporting secular values!

It costs nothing. Just let us to list you as a coalition participant and you get:

— Influence our national campaign for secular values

— Weekly call on national issues

— Individual attention from our superstar thinkers for your local issues*

— Funding and support for your local secular projects

— VIP Invitation to the World Future Forum

The more we come together, the more clout we have with Congress, just like the Heritage Foundation and CATO Institute!

Call me if you’d like to chat!

Do you support secular values and can we list you?

-Johnny

Johnny Monsarrat
Alliance Director
Secular Policy Institute

“Oh, yes”, I thought, “These guys.” [Read more…]

A Crisis of Professionalism

That is what the secular and skeptics movements face right now: a crisis of professionalism. We’re not the only ones, of course. The gaming industry faces one. The industry of science fiction and fantasy publishing is facing one. Several disciplines of science face them.

What we all have in common is that we used to be relatively exclusive clubs. As the world in which we exist has grown, we can’t be that anymore, not if we want to thrive, possibly even not if we want to survive. We have to change.

We are relatively young movements, at least from where I sit here in the U.S. We’ve barely grown past the point where a few charismatic figures have an idea or two about what we should do and convince others around them that this is a good idea. We even still have some of those leaders in place. Paul Kurtz we only lost last year, though his leadership role had been sharply curtailed for a few years before that.

Charismatic leaders like Kurtz and O’Hair can start a movement , but they leave particular marks when they do. [Read more…]

The Role of Feminism in Secular Organizations

Ron Lindsay has asked for input going into a meeting of national secular organizations.

Specifically, I’d like your input on these two questions: 1. What specific steps do you think secular groups should take to increase diversity within our movement, in particular with respect to the participation of minority groups? 2. As you are aware, there are some stark differences of opinion within the movement about the appropriate understanding of feminism and how feminism (however defined) should influence the practices and mission of secular organizations. How do you think these differences can best be narrowed or resolved?

I answered the first question already, but the second required some more thought. After all, if I knew how to resolve those differences, I would do something about them.

Then I realized that there is one thing I do fairly regularly in this respect because I think it’s important. I try to make sure that the apparent starkness of those differences of opinion isn’t due to misrepresentation of my position. So here is my position on feminism and its role within secular organizations.

[Read more…]

How Organizations Can Improve Movement Diversity

Ron Lindsay asked for input going into a meeting of national secular organizations.

Specifically, I’d like your input on these two questions: 1. What specific steps do you think secular groups should take to increase diversity within our movement, in particular with respect to the participation of minority groups? 2. As you are aware, there are some stark differences of opinion within the movement about the appropriate understanding of feminism and how feminism (however defined) should influence the practices and mission of secular organizations. How do you think these differences can best be narrowed or resolved?

The second question is not an easy one to answer from the perspective of what national organizations can do, so I’ll give that one more thought before answering. The first is one of those things I talk about and promote other people talking about, so I have things to say. I started to get long-winded and detailed, so I’m moving my answer here. Luckily, Ron promised to read even treatises. [Read more…]