The second time

A great moment. At the secularism panel just now with Barry Kosmin and Ron Lindsay and Phil Zuckerman, moderated by Paul Fidalgo, Paul asked the audience, how many of you have attended a Secular Sunday Assembly?

A LOT of hands went up.

Ron said something I didn’t hear, and Paul said, “That’s a great question – how many of you have gone twice?”

One hand went up.


  1. says

    Isn’t pretty much any hobby a “secular assembly”? Bowling league, museum trips, fight club, jogging group…?

    My father goes to church once a year, for the midnight mass at a nearby Anglican cathedral. He says he only goes for Handel’s “Messiah” the incense and the ritual. He likes the smoke and the big hats and the singing. I told him I get the same thing at a Ray Wylie Hubbard concert, except the bar’s open and there’s good beer.

    I have no problem with saying that humans enjoy ceremony, smoke, and big hats. And we can/should have them (and excommunications and schisms, too!) without belief in god.

  2. R Johnston says

    That reminds me of an incident that happened when I was going to law school. In a Criminal Law class the professor asked everyone who’d ever been stopped by the police for something other than a traffic offense to put up their hands. Maybe 20 people in a large lecture class did so. Then the professor asked people to put their hands down if it was only one time. All the hands went down except for the hands of the half-dozen or so black males in the class. A little further discussion indicated that most of them had been stopped by the police often enough to have lost count.

    That event very firmly planted the significance of white privilege in my mind.

  3. Lady Mondegreen says

    I think you mean Sunday Assembly?

    (Me–not even once. I hate being told to hug strangers. I’m not sure they do that but it’s the kind of thing they would do.)

  4. says

    I can report that we don’t hug in Ottawa. We did, however, get personal hugs from Sanderson Jones when we went to the one in London. Must be a high-church/low church thing ;-).

  5. iknklast says

    (Me–not even once. I hate being told to hug strangers. I’m not sure they do that but it’s the kind of thing they would do.)

    I second. And at least some of them do have the introduce yourself, shake hands thing. I saw Jerry DeWitt on TV, and it looked a lot like church, except without the Bible. I hated church. I hate ritual (it’s creepy). I hated even watching it, because it was everything I left church over, even before acknowledging to myself I had left God.

  6. says

    So, reporting back from Canberra.
    1. No hugs.
    2. I will be another one of those “just once” people.

    It was, well, quite boring. The structure was
    Charity talk & collection
    Tea & cake

    The songs were singalong style modern-ish pop. The only one I really knew was the Proclaimers. The talk was great – a woman rocket scientist talked about plasma physics and her life. The reflection was dull – a short about-me talk by a sweet but young & privilege blind engineer, and a moment of silent reflection. The charity talk was short and along the lines of “what do you do”.

    Mostly harmless.

  7. says

    I will say that A.C. Grayling’s “Good Book” is pretty amazing. I would cheerfully sit and let him read it to me. He could even wear a big hat.

    My problem with convocations is that they turn easily to heirarchies. I don’t want any of that; it’s where fungus – like the fungus currently adorning the skeptical “movement” grows.

  8. says

    I’ll add that the community building aspect seemed pretty absent. There was no structure in place to welcome new people, and since that’s part of the group’s stated raison d’etre that seemed like a fail to me. No-one welcomed me or chose to talk to me. They seemed friendly enough people when I talked to them, but if I were shyer I’d have had no interaction at all. Not counting the one formal “tell you neighbout about a journey” that I also forgot to mention above.

  9. sacharissa says

    I’ve considered going to the London one but I don’t really want to travel to central London on a Sunday morning. The nice thing about the weekend is not having to commute.

    I prefer going to the evening events. There’s loads of secular stuff in London.

    As for the community aspect, I get that more from my other interests, plus I now live near the area where I grew up and have family and friends. I don’t need to base my social life around being an atheist.

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