Eight reasons for secular jews to celebrate Hanukkah (Link) (Non-fiction)

Paul Golin, executive director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, recently posted his eight reasons his family celebrates Hanukkah. Among them:

In the Book of Maccabees, God is not a participant. All accomplishments were people-powered, though the Maccabees were certainly religious people, zealots even. Today, rabbis in all denominations outside ultra-Orthodoxy are willing to admit that the Hanukkah “miracle”—one day’s worth of Temple oil lasting eight days—was tacked on centuries later to downplay the military accomplishments of the eventually corrupted Hasmonean Dynasty. As far as religious miracles go, Hanukkah is about as awe-inspiring as seeing Jesus’s face in your toast. The real miracle was that a backwater province defeated a regional superpower in a fight for their religious freedom. It’s more the Jewish Fourth of July than the Jewish Christmas.

I became involved in humanistic Judaism after meeting my wife, and she introduced me to the candle lighting and songs.  So I agree with Paul’s reasons.

Rabbi Chalom wrote a post detailing who the Maccabees were, and how the roots of Hanukkah predate the Maccabee uprising.

Off to light another candle.

The Rift is on sale this week (Non-Fiction)

Cover of The Rift

The Rift is on sale.

From now until the end of Friday, you can get the eBook version of The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story for $.99.

The Rift is an urban fantasy/sci-fi novel inspired by the Deep Rifts/Elevatorgate. A public rift has erupted within the atheist/skeptical movement. Pro-social justice skeptics are rallying to form Humanist Heart as a progressive alternative two the two establishment organizations. Mens Rights Activists and so-called moderates are rallying against what they claim is a feminist takeover of “their” movement.  Blogger Tom Larsen is a rising star known for his posts portraying “modern feminists” as a threat to the movement. He’s secretly mad at progressive podcaster Jamie Kyle for a video that indirectly criticized his behavior towards her at a convention. On the verge of becoming a full-fledged MRA, Tom discovers that Jamie and Humanist Heart will be in his hometown of Bolingbrook for a special congress. Tom is so desperate to confront Jamie that he’s willing to ally with  the Babbler, the local tabloid known for its wild paranormal claims about Bolingbrook.

But Tom’s worldview is shattered when his test assignment for the Babbler ends when a weredeer attacks him and he wakes up inside Clow UFO Base. The movement he defeated is built on a public lie. As Tom Lear not he truth, MRA protesters menacingly rally outside the congress. A weredeer army gathers outside of Bolingbrook. Time rifts open throughout Bolingbrook and the aliens have an assignment for Tom. Tom needs answers.  The Babbler and Jamie are the only ones who can help him. Can Tom get past his rage and face the unbelievable truth about the movement and himself before the rift unleashes a dark future for humanity?

Find out in The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story.

Article on leaders of the New Atheist movement spreading white nationalist ‘Great Replacement’ myth. (Link)

“The Great Replacement” is the white nationalist myth that whites are being replaced by minorities, either through a conspiracy, or because declining birth rates among whites. It’s embodied in the infamous Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us.” EIYNAH at OnlySky recently posted an article about some leaders of the New Atheist Movement promoting this “theory”:


One of his books, The Strange Death of Europe (guess what is causing this ‘death’: Muslim mass migration and low birth rates) Received praise from neo-Nazi group Generation Identity, it was also recommended on white nationalist hate-site Stormfront and has made an appearance on other racist and white nationalist reading lists. If that wasn’t enough, it was also promoted on Facebook by far-right Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and also received high praise from Sam Harris (“wonderful,” “very witty,” “fantastic book,” “beautiful read”).

Harris is not only a long-time defender and promoter of Douglas Murray but has contributed to the normalizing of great replacement themes through his own content as well. I was once a fan of Harris’s and have spent the past few years feeling terrible about that, a fact I explore in a miniseries in more detail. But to sum it up, once I started feeling uneasy with some of his content and associations, I hoped that much of it could be chalked up to ignorance or his not having the time to delve into some of the characters he was promoting.

I could not have been more wrong.

It’s a long post, but worth reading. I agree with her that atheism doesn’t make a person immune to racist or sexist thinking. Many atheists expect religious followers to speak out against their toxic leaders. We shouldn’t be afraid to do the same to the prominent faces of atheism.

It’s a theme I also touch on in my latest novel.

I just started following Eiynah, and I look forward to her future posts.

My book series, The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories, is now available on Amazon and elsewhere. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter.

Goodbye, Callie the Calico (Non-Fiction)

Yesterday, my spouse and I had to euthanize our sweet cat, Callie. She was very sick when we took her to the emergency vet clinic. What I thought might have been an infection turned out to be much worse, and we decided to end her suffering. We were not prepared for yesterday to be her last day, but we couldn’t justify prolonging her pain. I am glad we got to say goodbye to her.

Callie always tried to help me out.

Callie lived to be about 16 years old. My wife adopted her when she was a few months old. When I moved in, she wasn’t happy I brought my cat River into her apartment. They eventually learned to tolerate each other. When River died, Callie and I bonded. When started working from home, she’d sit in the cat tower by my desk. Sometimes she’d put her paw on my arm when she wanted attention. Other times she’d get up to rub against my screens, then walk on my keyboard.

In many ways, she was one of the lucky ones. To paraphrase Greta Christina, the moments we had together still exist in the past, and while I can’t go back to them, that thought does give me comfort.

Now we are just have Augustine, a very friendly tabby, and we still have time to be with him, and make new memories.

The March FTB Podish-Sortacast (Non-fiction)

I made an appearance with my fellow Freethought Bloggers last weekend. This month we talked about propaganda, how it works, and what it is exactly:

My additional thoughts: Obviously propaganda isn’t limited to certain ideologies, and everyone has the potential to be swayed by it. In college, I got caught up in the arm-chair revolutionary left, and at times I can see similarities in the mindset with Q-anon and Trump followers. Likewise, there were people I knew in college who were swept up in far-Right propaganda.

We touched on getting out of the propaganda trap. It took a while for me to get out. It probably helped that I didn’t fully buy into the Tankie mindset, and that was one reason I had a falling out with the group I was in. I also took the time to find sources I could trust that were outside the bubble I was in. It also helped me to find a new group of friends and discover one of the earliest online communities. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or method that can reprogram anyone.

Lastly, I think the panel discussed the difference between propaganda and marketing. After the podcast, I realized that one difference is that good marketing is about presenting a product or service to an audience that might be interested. I’m still working on the marketing for my stories, but I certainly won’t be trying to convert Christian Fundamentalists to love them. My focus will be more on fans of the Babbler, FtB readers, and others who might like it. Propaganda, in some sense, is a more sinister version of Marketing that tries to suck you in and keep you trapped.


‘We’re doing it live!’ Tenth Anniversary of Freethought Blogs YouTube broadcast (Non-fiction)

Join the members of Freethought Blogs, including me, as we reflect on the 10th anniversary of the network.  From its beginnings as a general atheist blog to its current reputation as the home for socially conscious bloggers. It’s been through the Deep Rift, the Trump Administration, and many personnel changes.  It’s had quite a history.  The one thing that has stayed consistent, in my opinion, are the bloggers’ desire to work for change, both in terms of speaking out for atheists, and advocating for a just world.  Because there is no invisible hand bending the arc of justice.  Humans have to work to bend it.

It will be live at 16:00 Central Time.  Come join us and feel free to ask your (reasonable) questions, or add a comment.

Bolingbrook Antifa repels invasion by the Edgar County Irregular Militia (Fiction)

The first day of early voting in Bolingbrook started with Antifa repelling the Edgar County Irregular Militia’s attempt to “secure” the Fountaindale Library.

An alleged photo of Bolingbrook Antifa’s tank

“It was a war zone!” said Patricia, who lives in the Beaconridge subdivision.  “All the drones, bear mace, milkshake mix and paint was too much!  I know Bolingbrook is the best place to live, but why are armed (expletive deleted) from Edgar County so obsessed with us?”

Joyce, a New Lenox resident who asked that we not use her last name, spotted the militia convoy while on a walk:

“They were all riding in black pickup trucks.  Most of the trucks were flying Trump and US Flags.  Everyone one of them was armed and none of them knew a thing about gun safety.  I’m surprised they didn’t shoot each other.  When the convoy stopped, they told me to take off my mask and ‘resign.’  Whatever.  One guy was nice and told me to stay away from the Fountaindale Library.  What really scared me was the artillery the rear trucks were towing. So I warned my friends in Bolingbrook Antifa that they were coming.”

According to sources embedded within Bolingbrook Antifa, Antifa launched scout drones to observe the approaching convoy.  The militia responded by shooting down several of them.  

Pete, a Bolingbrook resident, claims that militia scouts accosted him while he was walking with his wife  towards the library:

“These strange men were wearing Hawaiian shirts and bulletproof vests.  They walked up to us and tried to convince us that residents of DuPage Township weren’t allowed to vote early.  I tried to ignore them, but they said they were doing me a favor.  They said if we didn’t go home, the Edgar Calvary would arrive to perform a mass citizens’ arrest.  I asked them what gave them the right to arrest Bolingbrook voters.  They said the Illinois Code gives Edgar County Residents the right to pass judgment on the rest of the state.  That explains a lot of things.”

According to Pete, and other eyewitnesses, the scouts stopped harassing voters when an apparent group of protesters marched towards them.  From the distance, they carried the following two banners:  “Pineapple Pizza Forever!” and “Ketchup and Hot Dogs go together!”

“Stand your ground!”  Yelled one militia member as he raised his rifle.

“You can’t shoot protesters!” protested Pete.

“Why not,” asked the militia member.  “I feel threatened, so I can shoot anyone I want, and true patriots will give millions of dollars to our lawyers.  Then we can make a living collecting speaker fees from conservative think tanks.  Why wouldn’t I shoot protesters?”

The militia members opened fire on the protesters, which turned out to be mannequins mounted on robot vacuums.  As the militia members examined the remains of the mannequins, Antifa members, hiding behind trees, tossed milkshake mix grenades at them.  The militia members retreated.  

According to Pete: “They said their shirts were ruined and we laughed at them.  They did look silly after all.  Anyway, they ran away, and said we were going to be sorry.”

When the main convoy drove into Bolingbrook from South Bolingbrook Drive, Antifa used their robot vacuums to drag spike strips onto the road.  The spikes took out several of the trucks.  The leaders decided to set up a “beachhead” in the Bolingbrook Commons parking lot.  

As the militia started to set up their artillery, milkshake mortar shells rained down on their base.

“Do not resign!” yelled a militia leader, according to eyewitnesses.

Ken, a Romeoville resident who asked that we not use his last name, said:  “I felt like I was back in Iraq, only the insurgents were fighting with dairy products instead of IEDs.  I guess if we have to descend into civil war, I’d rather deal with dairy stains than bombs.”

According to radio and internet messages intercepted by reporters and other experts, the militia planned on firing “COVID” shells at the library.  From the chatter, the shells would explode over the library and rain droplets filled with the COVID-19 virus.  It is not clear whether the shells really contained the virus.  Some of the militia members seemed to believe that their COVID attack would drive away “libs” while Republicans would stay in line to vote.

Then, according to eyewitnesses and sources close to Bolingbrook Antifa, the steering committee asked for air support.  Antifa members replied that the planes were stuck on the runway at Clow Airport due to the lack of a flight plan.

Steve, a Bolingbrook resident, claims he overheard the steering committee meeting while going for a walk:

“On the other side of the fence, they were arguing how they were going to get the planes off the ground.  One of them spoke up and said it was time for a leadership moment -Whatever that means.  Any way, he must have called Clow Airport because he demanded to speak with the traffic control manager.  Then he did the best impersonation of (Former Mayor Roger Claar) that I ever heard.  It was like: ‘You know who I am?  Good!  Get my planes off the ground now, I  may not be the mayor, but my campaign fund is bigger than yours, and I know how to use it!  No, you should’ve had them off the ground five minutes ago!’  I hope Roger doesn’t find him, because I know he hates it when people impersonate him.”

Seconds later, private airplanes dropped cluster paint bombs on the militias, ruining their uniforms, guns, trucks, and equipment.

“Remind me to never play paintball with Bolingbrook Antifa.”

Witnesses heard the militia members complain about being unable to access the Edgar County Watchdog’s web page. 

“Fall back!” yelled one of the leaders.

“But we swore not to resign!”  said a member.

“We’re not resigning.  We’re reassigning!  Big difference!”

Under attack, the militia retreated south.  As they left, some witnesses said they saw DuPage Township Trustee Alyssia Benford run after them.  According to the witnesses, she yelled: “You can’t leave!  Kirk said you were going to liberate the township.  Don’t leave me!”

Bolingbrook Antifa released a statement following the clash with the Edgar County Irregular Militia:

“To paraphrase Roger, there are residents and there are foes.  Today, we defeated the fascist foes of democracy in Bolingbrook.  We will resist any fascist attempt to intimidate or harm the residents of Bolingbrook.  But we can’t do it alone.  We need every resident to vote in this election.  We’ll punch the downstate fascists for you.  You just need to vote against fascism in this election.  Together, we’ll keep Bolingbrook the most awesome community in Illinois!”

A spokesperson for the Edgar County Irregular Militia referred all questions to the Edgar County Watchdogs and added: “We will not resign until Trump is named the rightful President of the United States, and DuPage Township is dissolved!”

A person who claimed to be a member of the Edgar County Watchdogs denied any ties to the militia:

“You don’t like us, and since we’re friends with Alyssia, you must not like her too.  Since you don’t like her, that makes you a racist!  You must resign.”

Also in the Babbler:

State Representative Tom Morrison accused of spraying pheromones at voters
Here we go again: Covid Restrictions return to Bolingbrook
Aliens deliver humanitarian aid to Clow UFO Base’s ‘Doomsday Crew’
God to smite Bolingbrook on 10/24/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.