And it’s time, once again, for one of my disjointed series- of- impressions conference reports! Here, in no particular order, are the things I liked best about last weekend’s FIG@20 Conference in Cincinnati. This was a short conference, and I had to cut out early, so this will be a short report — but I had way too good a time not to blog about the high points.
1: Darrell Rey’s talk about the Sex and Secularism study on the effect of leaving religion on people’s sex lives. Darrell is a hoot. Okay, yes, these are inherently interesting ideas, you’d have to be a deadly public speaker to make them anything else… but Darrell is a hoot, and he took the ideas from interesting to fascinating, inspiring, and hilarious. I was already very familiar with this research, having written about it… and I still had a ball.
2: Dave Silverman’s impression of Edwin Kagin. Kagin had been scheduled to speak at the conference, but due to a family emergency, he wasn’t able to attend. So American Atheists president Dave Silverman read a statement from him… and he did it in an impersonation that had the audience rolling, and that had people who clearly knew Kagin well practically in tears.
3: Jamila Bey’s talk and JT Eberhard’s talk. I’m putting these two together, because I’m going to say pretty much the same thing about both: I’ve seen them multiple times. In fact, I’ve seen them give pretty much this exact talk before. And I was still on the edge of my seat. These folks know what they’re doing.
4: Bill Jensen’s talk on the history of freethought in Cincinnati in the 19th century. I love this stuff. I think it’s hugely important to be reminded that the so-called “new atheist” movement is really not so new. Plus being a Midwestern girl and the descendant of a history-buff family — a local history-buff family at that — the local angle was especially fun. And it was presented well, with a good blend of hard facts and irrerevent humor.
5: My talk on “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” I love giving this talk — and if I do say so myself, the more I do it, the better I get at it. Love to rouse me some rabble.
6: Hanging out in the hotel bar Saturday night with Gayle, Elliot, Jamila, China, and JT. Hanging out with old friends and new is usually one of the best things about conferences. Long, rambling conversations about movement strategy, and poker, and Apples to Apples, and classical literature, and maintaining a strong sense of sexuality after fifty. As much as I love public speaking, as much as I love listening to other speakers, I often think that, when it comes to conferences,speakers are almost beside the point. We get conversations started (I hope we do, anyway). But the point is the conversations. When it comes to conferences, that’s almost always the best thing.