Lindsay and WiS: Time to Be Heard at CFI

The CFI board meets in a week. The Ron Lindsay debacle should not be allowed to fall from the agenda. To make sure they hear all voices, please send your thoughts to board member Tom Flynn [at tflynn@centerforinquiry.net].

I’ve discussed the outrage and disappointment felt in the community, and my own, in What Do Ron Lindsay and an Oklahoma Tornado Have in Common? which has links to several other movement leaders and writers, men and women, who have echoed much the same sentiments (from Dan Finke to Ashley Miller).

My own letter to the board read as follows:

Please forward to the board of directors of CFI.

I have voiced my thoughts on Ron Lindsay matter on my blog:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/3626

Though others have covered the women and feminism angle very well, I saw other problems with the way he handled Atheism+ in particular and my blog explains what I mean.

Both instances indicate Ron Lindsay doesn’t listen, doesn’t learn well, doesn’t stay informed, and doesn’t have a good grasp of how to maintain a positive rallying message for all worthwhile members of the movement. His talk could have been salvaged with diplomacy (though it did demonstrate a pervasive cluelessness), but the way he handled criticism was far worse, and far more indicative of his inability to effectively lead an organization serving the broader secular community.

There have also been several open letters with numerous signatories (and approving upvotes and comments) making the same and further points, so if you want to hear more voices before coming to a conclusion of your own to send to the board of directors of CFI, you can peruse these:

The damage Lindsay’s behavior is doing to CFI is already becoming evident as people talk about abandoning their affiliation with CFI (e.g. here). So I think the board really does need to hear as many voices as possible, so they don’t misjudge the scale of response his behavior has evoked in the atheist, humanist, and skeptic communities.

 

Two New Awesome Bloggers

FreethoughtBlogs has added two new fascinating bloggers, both from the UK: Ally Fogg and Yemisi Ilesanmi. These will really get the hackles up of the anti-feminist crowd, since one is a card carrying feminist (And black. And a woman. Chicken littles, begin your rant…) while the other is a voice of reason in the same debate, taking no label but soundly and prolifically defending gender equity and exposing and combating sexism of all stripes (from the innocent to the malicious). They both blog well on a variety of interesting topics from an atheist perspective; I’ve often found their articles a good read. And their values are largely on par with mine. For example, Yemisi is a major advocate for sex workers and legalization of sex work, and Ally is a firm believer in applying compassion, skepticism and critical thought to both feminism and the “Men’s Rights Movement,” and he actually practices what he preaches.

Photo of Ally FoggAlly’s blog is Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men (tagline: “splashes of mud from the trenches of the online gender wars”). His introductory post is Hello, Hello, Is This Thing On? And he explains what his blog is all about here, which is a brief but crucial read. His profile description is great:

Ally Fogg is a UK-based freelance writer and journalist, whose day job includes a weekly column on Comment is Free at www.guardian.co.uk and miscellaneous scribbles elsewhere, mostly on issues of UK politics and social justice. This blog is dedicated to exploring gender issues from a male perspective, unshackled from any dogmatic ideology. Ally is often accused of being a feminist lapdog and an anti-feminist quisling; a misogynist and a misandrist; a mangina and a closet MRA, and concludes that the only thing found in pigeonholes is pigeon shit. He can be contacted most easily through www.allyfogg.co.uk or @allyfogg on Twitter.

Photo of Yemisi IlesanmiYemisi’s blog is YEMMYnisting (tagline: “proudly feminist, proudly bisexual, proudly atheist”). She is a Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist and author of Freedom to Love for All: Homosexuality Is Not Un-African. She has a Masters of Law in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights and is presently based in the UK. Yemisi is also a trade unionist, a poet, a plus size model, and “a passionate campaigner for equal rights, social justice and poverty alleviation.” Not only her blogging but her background exemplifies that: she holds or has held positions in several Nigerian political organizations and international trade unions. To learn more about her you can check out her introductory post, Welcome To My World! (and more on the about-page of her website).

Yemmy also has a YouTube channel and has done some great videos on Atheism+ (e.g. Is the Atheist+ Label Really Confusing? and What Are Anti-Atheists+ Afraid of? — don’t worry, that groovy Nigerian accent might bewilder some at first, but not for long!).

So welcome Ally and Yemmy and check out their blogs from time to time!

 

Help a Library in Pakistan

This is an opportunity to do something cool. I was contacted recently by a library in a predominately Hindu region of Pakistan, asking if I’d be so kind as to send them some free copies of my books (which they even knew and requested by name). My books. Books with titles like Sense and Goodness without God and Why I Am Not a Christian. They had no problem with receiving atheist literature, and even wanted some. I asked them about their safety in receiving it, and they reported that they are in a more liberal district, largely Hindu, and were quite happy to receive literature from all points of view.

I researched them and found several others had obliged and were glad of the results, including Naomi Wolf and Tony Buzan (follow both links to learn more about the library and its aims and goals and tribulations). They are driving a literacy program in the region and undertaking other educational initiatives. Though they are Hindu, they are clearly ecumenical in the kind of literature they are willing to make available. So I sent them some of my books. And asked if they’d like me to ask my readers for more. They said yes.

This is their original letter to me, similar to what they sent a lot of other authors and organizations, seeking what they can (I’m sure they expected a lot of these requests to be a long shot):

With profound regards we humbly request you that we are a voluntary organization which sets up work in Indus Valley Sindh, the southern part of Pakistan our project is to help and facilitate a libraries program in Sindh, with the name of “Mother of Civilization Library” … [And need books] due to lack of resources and fundamental facilities of libraries, and … [a] big catastrophe of supper flood which hit the large part of population of this province in which all educational institutions and libraries infrastructure has been destroyed.

Your donations of books can do much to stimulate and encourage the growth of learning, especially among the young generation of Sindh about it. Therefore we appeal your great institution to make a little contribution of … books on compassionate and humanitarian ground; the result would be the placement of new books (or equivalent educational materials) into the library for needy and destitute students.

Hope you will consider our humble supplication with the glance of appreciation and make small numbers of books donation for this libraries program. In case, you wish to know more about our libraries program and various facets associated with it, please free to contact our office on all the days.

Thanking you.

Yours Sincerely

Rashid Anees Magsi

Project Manager

This is the letter of response I included with my shipment:

Mother of Civilization Library

Sobho Khan Magsi

Radhan Station, Dadu

Sindh Province, 76310

Pakistan

Phone: 009-2300-360-9982

 

Greetings! I Enclosed are one or more copies of my books Why I Am Not a Christian, Not the Impossible Faith, Proving History, and Sense and Goodness without God, plus one copy of The End of Christianity, which has many valuable chapters, some by me. I no longer have any copies of its prequel, The Christian Delusion, but hopefully someday you can acquire a copy to add to your collection.

I think you are doing a brave and valuable thing, and I am happy to help you promote knowledge and learning, religious freedom, and the exchange of information and ideas.

I wish all good fortune to your library project and for your own safety and success as well as that of everyone involved.

Be well and enlighten many!

 

Richard Carrier

California

United States of America

If you are able and interested in sending them some books, use their address above in my letter of reply.

I asked what they were looking for in general, and it’s the same as you can imagine any library wants: stuff on science, philosophy, history, how-to books. Presumably some educational children’s books. They didn’t mention fiction, and I imagine fiction might be problematic, for various reasons. But if you stick to good educational materials you can’t go wrong. Obviously used books in good condition will be fine.

Just think, you can get rid of some books in your home library that you like but don’t need anymore, or ship things to them direct from Amazon (presumably; I haven’t checked if Amazon can do that). Just don’t send them stuff you think sucks. You’ll want to send them the best, most readable, informative works on various subjects, or any good book or textbook on a subject. It costs a significant bit of money to ship to Pakistan, and it takes time out of your day to pack books and go to the post office to have them sent. But it was doable. There are places in the world I often assume just aren’t getting things like this, and I could afford the money and time to remedy that in at least this one case. Maybe you can, too. If so, go for it!

P.S. If anyone has a spare copy of The Christian Delusion to send them, I’d appreciate that. Then they’d have the complete set.

 

Zindler-Price Anthology: Contra Ehrman

Frank Zindler and Bob Price have edited their own anthology of “responses” to Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist? For this project Zindler bought the rights from me to include a special summary edition of my blogging on the same subject (see Ehrman on Historicity Recap). This anthology is now available through American Atheist Press as Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? (also available on kindle).

The rights to my contribution were procured through a single-payment contract, so I won’t be getting any royalties from the sale of this book (if you want to buy it and still want me to get a cut, then you can buy it through the above link, which is to the respective sales page in my Amazon store, where I get a kickback on any sale). I also had (and have) no editorial control over this book or its publication. My contribution does contain some new material not included in my blogging, but the most important addition (quotations from the Egyptian Pyramid Texts) will be included in my next book, On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, and the rest is pretty much already what’s available online (either in or linked from Recap), although I made various improvements in wording throughout.

I required a disclaimer to be included (in the Foreword generally and in the first paragraph of my chapter specifically), since I do not endorse much of what gets said elsewhere in this book. I was sure of this even before I read it, but having at last read it I can now confirm my expectation was correct. In fact, I consider much of it terrible. But it is fair enough to say that each chapter represents the best of what you can expect from each contributor of late. So if you want to see what each mythicist author is most often like in their manner of argumentation and quality of research, this is the anthology for you, although at 567 pages from disparate authors, it can be a challenge to get through.

That’s the sum of it. But those who want to know more can read on… [Read more…]

Status Report

Two notes today, one to readers of my blog and another to the donors who funded Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus Christ:

(1) Today I shall begin recording in studio for the audiobook edition of Not the Impossible Faith. Two other books have already been done and are available on Audible now (Why I Am Not a Christian and Sense and Goodness without God), and NIF will be the last of my own books to be turned into audio (though we will try to get audio rights for Proving History, too). That project will occupy me most of this week, in fact, leaving me little time to manage my blog. Then, next week, is the American Atheists convention, for which preparation, travel and attendance will again keep me too busy to do much else. So my blog will likely be on hiatus and comment moderation greatly delayed over the next two weeks. Just so you know. (Although I have one post already completed that I might throw up at some point amidst all that, and if I do find time I might do more.)

(2) I have sent an email today to all the donors to my historicity project. If you are an official donor to that project and did not receive that email, please email me right away so I can update my contact information for you. Then I can also send you that same email, which offers an advance look at the current draft of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ (which will differ from the published text, since it will likely be revised on advice from peer reviewers and editors before publication, but it will likely not differ in any radical way).

To everyone else who may be interested, note that OHJC has now entered the stage of peer review and contract negotiation, after which will be the publisher’s official editing and production phase (which can itself take many months). I am hoping peer review can be completed by July, which will likely mean an October or November publication–depending on how much revision needs to be done; if very little, it’s possible the book will be out even sooner. My ultimate target is to have copies for sale at this year’s Skepticon. Donors of course will eventually receive free copies by post just as with Proving History (except any who opt out of that benefit).

 

I’m Back, Now Help Ed Brayton!

I know fans will want to hear my news, but I want you to give someone else a hand, it’s way more important, so please read on.

Yesterday I finished the principal draft of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. Today I’m taking a trip to the library to double check some essentials, and that will continue for some weeks. But this book is twice as long as Proving History, so to jump start it in the pipeline, I’ll begin the peer review, submission, and production process next week. The book could go to press even in its current state (it’s a polished and complete manuscript). I just want to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed, so now I begin clearing through my “check this to be sure” pile of books and articles.

Picture of Ed Brayton and FTB bioI was so close to getting to that point that I have been doing nothing but writing, nosing the grindstone, for the last three weeks and neglecting the outside world, including my blog and email. When I swam back to the surface I found that (as many of you may already know; I’m way behind) Ed Brayton, one of the founders of the Freethought Blogs network and a great blogger on American law and politics from an atheist perspective that I read regularly here (Dispatches from the Culture Wars), had a severe emergency leading to open heart surgery.

Ed’s in good condition, but as we all know, medical insurance doesn’t really pay your medical bills (much less your lost wages), it just “softens the blow” so to speak. If you have anything to spare and want to help out someone who does good work informing the community and who was instrumental in creating and running this blog network, head on over and put something in his tip jar, or even just subscribe to his blog (the plan is to let you view it from then on without any annoying ads, but I don’t know if that’s been implemented yet or if it can be done; for now it’s just to show continuing support for a blogger you like).

See How You Can Help on how to help, and to read more about what happened see Ed’s Not So Excellent Adventure and Merry Christmas.

And welcome all to the new year! We all survived the collision with Nibiru, I think partly due to the galactic realignment canceling it out. Or it hit Jesus on his way to kill us. Two birds, you know. Anyway, whew. That was a close one.

The Goodacre Debate

One of the many things I did when I was in England was go on a radio show that then aired in London just this last weekend (Saturday, December 15th, 2012), called Unbelievable with Justin Brierley, for Premiere Christian Radio. There, I had a cordial and informal debate with professor Mark Goodacre on the merits of the theory that Jesus didn’t exist (but is instead as mythical as Hercules or King Arthur).

Photo of Justin Brierley Speaking at a Podium Justin was an excellent host, and we both mused over the irony of the fact that he had an American in England debating an Englishman in America. I had stopped by the studio in person while I was in London; Goodacre was kind enough to phone in from his office at Duke University, North Carolina, where he’s an Associate Professor of the New Testament. So we were both at a disadvantage, he by being on the phone (having been there myself, I can testify to how difficult it is to carry on a conversation that way), and me by having almost literally just landed after a twelve hour flight from Los Angeles, which had immediately followed a six hour drive by car, and after which we had just enough time to get our bags and drive to the city and drop me off at a tube station en route to Premiere. Fortunately, I’m pretty resistant to jet lag. But it definitely felt weird. I had that “wired” feeling one gets after being awake for far too long.

If you want to listen to the show, it’s available online (for just this week it’s the featured show but after that it will be in their archives; and if that link doesn’t work properly try this) and via iTunes. I will comment on the show here. So if you’re keen to hear my thoughts on it, read on.

[Read more…]

And Paul Fidalgo!

Somehow in last week’s post on our new bloggers I blanked on our fourth great addition! So I am remedying that right now. We have a quarto, not a trio, of new bloggers at FtB.

So please also welcome Paul Fidalgo at Near Earth Object, communications director for the Center for Inquiry with diverse skills and interests and skeptic cred. My favorite sample…

I don’t imagine that Bob-Fucking-Dole would feel that he had to wheel his ailing carcass to the floor of the Senate to plead with his own freaking party to back the treaty if he thought the obstacle to ratification was just how spooked Jim Inhofe might be about U.N. boogeymen. I bet you Dole knew that his real adversary was going to be the giant sacks of cash strewn about the halls of the Senate office buildings.

(from My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty)

He kinda might be right. Meanwhile, I’m so rocking the last chapter of my book that I’ve decided to put off further blogging again until next week. I so want to complete by end of week and I’m really close to doing that. In the meantime, go read some Paul Fidalgo!

The Latest New Bloggers at FtB!

We’ve recently recruited to our network some infamous folk of web renown. If you are curious, check them out! (Yes, I’m behind on current events…still haven’t caught up on things since my return from England and my birthday and sundry unexpected chores like replacing my streetside sewer lateral cleanout cap, which someone stole…who steals a three dollar sewer pipe cap? Anyway…)

The trio (no, quarto!) of the new includes the notorious Non Stamp Collector, of You Tube prominence, an Australian in Japan. Welcome to the 21st century global economy. My favorite sample…

What Christians bringing up this issue and this example [of the holocaust and moral relativism] fail to realise is that with a Christian view of objective morality, you are forced to do exactly the thing that you’re suggesting would make someone appear to be a brainwashed sicko at complete odds with civilised society. You can’t imagine living in a world in which genocide could be considered moral, and you make up an analogy pointing out how misguided excusing such a massive slaughter would be, yet in the next breath, you will excuse genocide carried out by an Old Testament hero (probably Joshua) who was simply Hitler with a different ideology and less effective weaponry!

(from What if Hitler Had Won?)

Did I mention the 21st century global economy? Because next up is Avicenna, a british ex-hindu atheist and medical student studying in India, whose blog A Million Gods is now hosted in our golden cradle. My favorite sample…

Just because something ends doesn’t mean that it has no meaning. Why do you have pets? Unless you are an avid tortoise hobbyist (I like to call them Cheloniaks) most of your pets will die before you. You may as well shoot them right now.

(from Doubts About Atheism? Fifteen Questions for Atheists Answered)

And almost last but not least is Miriam Mogilevsky, author of the activist blog Brute Reason. My favorite sample is actually in effect her description…

I’m a psychology student, a Russian Israeli immigrant, an ethnically Jewish atheist, a queer sex-positive feminist, a bleeding-heart but skeptical progressive, and a proud and unashamed survivor of a few mental illnesses. In other words, I’m pretty much everything your mom warned you about.

(from Hellooooo FtB!)

And actual last but not least (I somehow left him out of my original post!) is Paul Fidalgo, at Near Earth Object, communications director for the Center for Inquiry with diverse skills and interests and skeptic cred. My favorite sample…

I don’t imagine that Bob-Fucking-Dole would feel that he had to wheel his ailing carcass to the floor of the Senate to plead with his own freaking party to back the treaty if he thought the obstacle to ratification was just how spooked Jim Inhofe might be about U.N. boogeymen. I bet you Dole knew that his real adversary was going to be the giant sacks of cash strewn about the halls of the Senate office buildings.

(from My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty)

So there you go. More are to come, but these four are the latest!

Hopefully I’ll get back to blogging more serious deep thought stuff myself next week.

Blogging Slowdown

Just FYI to everyone, tomorrow I fly out for the Skepticon conference in Missouri which I am certain will consume me the whole weekend (it always does!), and then immediately after that I’m flying to the UK and spending ten days all over the south of England, so I am also unlikely to find time for much else but all the things I want to do when I’m there (since I normally don’t get to travel abroad much at all). And then immediately upon getting back it’s my birthday.

In consequence, you shouldn’t be surprised if my attendance to comment moderation and blog posting slows down beyond normal until December. Please be patient until I’m back.

P.S. Thank you Ohioans! You went for Obama and saved us all. Now I don’t have to worry about the Supreme Court becoming evil.