Here is a photo of PZ and Edwin at the AA Convention, March 2012. PZ gave a talk. And it was a good one too. It really was!
Tonight is the last time during this Lenten Season when Roman Catholic churches put on a fish fry at their church. They have been so doing, and I, to my pleasure, have been attending for some years now. I do so every Lent. Look forward to it
But this is the last time, this season, this very Friday. That is because next Friday is Good Friday and it just wouldn’t be right to be feasting on delicious deep fried cod while the Christ was laying unannointed in a local tomb. So this is shut down night, and after tonight I will just have to wait for the next Ash Wednesday. That is when one proclaims the starting of the next Lent by portraying, by a smudge of ashes on the forehead, an act of public penitence, something the Christ specifically forbad in the Sermon on the Mount. See Matthew: 6.
So here is something the churches (or some of them) got right. How to put on a fine fish fry.
And, others to the contrary, I have no problem giving the church good money for a good meal. There is nothing bad about getting value for value, is there?
Where did the whole idea come from? It is susposed to be a sacrifice, a giving up of better food or something. But given a choice, I would take a good fried fish dinner over a lot of other options. So how is that a sacrifice? It is another of those mysteries of faith.
Someone said that the thing got going when some Pope, a thousand or so years ago, owned a fish farm, and well……
Edwin Kagin © 2012.
Reason Rally Poem. March 24, 2012. Washington, D.C., by Edwin Kagin © 2012.
We are here to make history.
To say we do not like to be punished
If we do not believe in your god of love.
We do not want to be denied the right
To sit on juries, or to take an oath to tell the truth;
We do not want to be barred from public office.
Because we do not believe as you believe
Because we reject a supernatural world that you embrace.
Know now, our fellow citizens who do not trust us,
We are the most despised group in America,
We are not believed in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Today, we stand to say “Enough!”
Here we are.
Look at us!
We are those evil atheists and other fellow travelers.
Among you whom you fear without reason.
Against whom you discriminate without cause.
We are those whom you injure by hatred.
There is nothing special about atheists.
We have families, and jobs, and children, and grandchildren.
We are here, and we are part of “We the People.”
A big part.
More than you know.
More than you would believe.
Atheists are on their feet and off their knees
To “come out” to tell you they do not believe.
That it is okay to be an atheist.
That it is okay not to believe in a god.
Because our nation was set up that way.
We only ask that you do not continue
To try to make your catechism our creed.
We ask that you do not continue
To defile the graves of our martyrs.
Notice to Commenters, Know-it-Alls, Crazies, etc.:
I did not write the article that follows. It was, as clearly set forth, written by Kyle Cupp, who is described further at the end of the article.
It is found here: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/kylecupp/2012/03/20/religion-for-atheists/
The article is quoted by me for the purpose of criticism, education, and satire. I put it here so you can see it, which is more likely than if you were just given the above link.
In no way do I claim it to be my own work.
If any Experts on Everything think this is plagiarism or copyright violation, please tell me how so I can make amends and corrections.
My response to the article is clear. Atheists do have rituals. Want to see one such?
Attend the de-baptism scheduled for the day following the Rally for Reason at 8:00 pm. at the American Atheists Convention.
Religion for Atheists
by Kyle Cupp on March 20, 2012
Ned Resnikoff challenges the supposedly easy path of superficially translating religious ritual and practice into forms that an atheist might find acceptable and beneficial:
A fully developed theology is born out of conflict and dialogue: dialogue with tradition, intuition, philosophy, the hard and soft sciences, and the critiques of other denominations and religions (not to mention atheists). The idea that you can just skip the whole dialogue and get straight to establishing rituals that conform to your own vague pre-existing sentiments is frankly bizarre.
Doing so, says Ned, “would have atheists export some of organized religion’s worst diseases: bland and indistinct ‘spirituality,’ the thoughtless reenactment of ritual for its own sake, and the smug certainty of chronic incuriosity.” Instead, if atheists have an interest in reforming and putting religious rituals to their own purpose, they would be wise to build a theological foundation and seriously engage “with moral philosophy, epistemology, and even — perhaps especially — the theology of real-life theists.”
This is exactly right.
A religion is irreducible to a set of tenets and practices, meaning that you can’t treat it like a cafeteria without corrupting the whole. This goes for traditional religions and for secularized religious rituals. Why? Because religion is a way of being-in-the-world. The intelligibility of a its parts emerges only within the framework of the religion’s whole logos and mythos. The liturgy of the Eucharist, for example, makes sense only when understood in the contexts of biblical interpretation, Christology, ecclesiology, Old and New Testament narrative, theology of prayer, sacramental theology, the goals Christian life, etc.
Any religious ritual that’s worth a damn needs a theological (logical and mythological) foundation, developed over time and situated within society and the larger world. Without this, you may have some nice clothing for a “spiritual” journey, but you won’t have a new or improved sense of direction or a cause to take a first step.
Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Atheists to cheer for godless USA at ‘Reason Rally’
The following was excerpted from a USA article:
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
Atheists, humanists, skeptics and free thinkers are descending on the hallowed civic ground of the National Mall this Saturday for a Reason Rally.
British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins will lead a score of speakers on separation of church and state at an atheist rally in Washington.
….. they plan to head for Washington just like religious groups do — to strut their strength as a voting block, lobby for public policy and raise their social profile.
Organizers expect more than 10,000 people to celebrate unbelief, dance to punk band Bad Religion, hear a score of speakers led by celebrity British atheist Richard Dawkins, and shout out for separation of church and state
Shouting out (quietly) for God will be a small band of Christians from TrueReason.org, says Tom Gilson of Yorktown, Va., who does strategy work for Christian missions. They plan to venture “into the lion’s den” to pass out booklets refuting atheism and water bottles and to “offer a better message … that reason, properly applied, comes from God and leads back to God.”
The Reason Rally has a harder edge than the image of a godless Woodstock conjures. It follows in the wake of last year’s D.C. rallies by conservative talker Glenn Beck and liberal newsmen/comics Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. And it comes when the culture wars are raging and religion is a contentious point in the 2012 presidential election campaign.
Dwayne Windham, 34, says he booked a $160 round-trip bus ticket from Austin, not to wage war on religion but to show force for thoughtful atheism. “The majority of us just want rational public policies based on facts, not someone’s book of cobbled together fantasies. Atheists have to carry our weight on an intellectual and a moral basis. The worst thing you could do is be immoral and stupid,” says Windham.
The second worst thing is to go unnoticed and afraid, says American Atheists president and rally organizer David Silverman. He estimates that “99% of all atheists are closeted. We have to take back the word ‘atheist,’ because it has been demonized by critics.”
The Reason Rally is the day before the atheists’ annual conference in nearby Bethesda, Md. The conference theme is “Come out, come out, wherever you are.” Speakers will include atheists of every race and ethnicity, including “Pastor M,” a clergyman who will speak in disguise so he can keep his pulpit even though he’s lost his faith.
The rally, Silverman says, is meant to be “a unification event, a fun time.” Still, he adds, “We are proud to be the Marines of free thought, proud to be the edge of the sword.”
They are, after all, the group founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the prime mover in the Supreme Court case that drove adult-led prayer and Bible recitation out of the public schools, leaving religious expression to students’ choices.
The Public Religion Research Institute’s 2011 American Values Survey, released in November, found that 67% of Americans would be very or somewhat uncomfortable with an atheist president. That’s more than say they’d object to a Muslim (64%), Mormon (42%) or evangelical (28%) as head of state. Currently, there’s only one “out” atheist in Congress, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.
Ten years before the Reason Rally, planned for March 24th, the American Atheists sponsored the Godless Americans March on Washington.
The American Religious Identification Survey finds no-God atheists and maybe-God agnostics added together have more than doubled their market share of U.S. adherents between 1990 and 2008 — up from 0.7% in 1990 to 1.6% in 2008. Meanwhile, Catholic, Baptist and mainline Protestant denominations all saw declines. There were more unbelievers in 2008 than Mormons (1.4%), Jews (1.2%) or Episcopalians (1.1%).
Atheists, however, get disproportionate attention because “they are the ones who make the noise and the news. They are the radicals and provocateurs,” says Barry Kosmin, co-author of the ARIS survey and director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Famous rip-religion advocates include lecture circuit stars and best-selling authors such as the late Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great; neuroscientist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and founder of “Project Reason”; and Dawkins, a retired Oxford evolutionary biologist and author of titles such as The God Delusion.
Dawkins recently told the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, that the probability of a supernatural creator was “very, very low.” The idea of life starting from nothing is, he said, “such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing. Why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a god?”
The percentage of atheists and agnostics in the USA has more than doubled since 1990:
Source: American Religious Identification Survey
Still, not everyone is coming to gawk at Dawkins, says Rebecca Watson, 31, leader of the group blog Skepchick. She had a public confrontation with him last year over how women often are overlooked or demeaned in the non-religion movement.
“One of the beautiful things about being an atheist is there is no pope. I don’t have to agree with Dawkins,” says Watson, who is coming in from Buffalo for the event, eager to hear an array of female speakers who don’t often get called to the podium.
The 20 sponsors underwriting the $300,000 price tag for the rally include the American Humanist Association, the Center for Inquiry, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Secular Coalition of America.
Sarah Hamilton, 23, of Indianapolis, also has a bus ticket to the rally. She calls herself “a skeptic who understands the scientific method and applies it universally to uncover the what is right and true. Skepticism is like the gateway drug to atheism.”
Annie Johnson, with her husband and their 12-year-old daughter, is heading to the rally from Gainesville, Fla., where they recently joined a local humanist group that organizes volunteer and community service projects as “a way to help the world without joining a faith group,” she says. “Humanism offers a way to define my way of living and navigating through the world.”
Unbelief does not equal inactive, says Hemant Mehta, who blogs as the Friendly Atheist and runs the Reason Rally website. “The idea is not that we all just get together and not pray. We’re going to talk about ways to surround yourself with community and for these communities to make positive contributions.
This is not the American Atheists’ first march on the Mall. In 2002, nearly 3,000 attended the first Godless Americans March on Washington.
At that rally, Ellen Johnson, then president of the group, stood with the Capitol dome at her back and proclaimed that “all Americans are godless Americans because there is no God.”
“Beating back public scorn is nice. And reason is great, but you can’t reason for your rights. You have to play hardball. You have to change laws,” says Johnson, who now heads a group called Enlighten the Vote.
For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ’s. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to email@example.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.
By ELLIOT SPAGAT 03/19/12 08:13 PM ET
Two unidentified member of Alpha Delta Chi pray before the chapter meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Peter Prengaman)
SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a request by Christian groups on a college campus to allow them to limit membership based on religious beliefs.
Justice turned back a legal effort by a Christian fraternity and sorority at San Diego State University that challenged an anti-discrimination policy at California state universities.
The lawsuit filed in 2005 said the plaintiffs should be allowed to insist members follow their religious standards of conduct and avoid sex outside of marriage between a man and woman.
Susan Westover, head of the California State University system’s litigation unit, welcomed the Supreme Court decision,
“We don’t want our students to discriminate, just like we don’t want our employees to discriminate,” she said.
The Alliance Defense Fund, based on Scottsdale, Ariz., argued the case for the groups, David Cortman, senior counsel for the fund, said San Diego State will “remain a stronghold of censorship” as a result of the court decision.
The Alpha Gamma Omega-Epsilon Chapter fraternity and the Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter sorority continue to exist but have struggled.
Refusing to go along with the school’s nondiscrimination policy made the groups ineligible for a host of privileges such as getting student funding, posting signs on campus, reserving office and meeting space, using the school name or mascot and promoting themselves on the university website.
With Monday’s decision, the justices let stand a federal appeals court ruling that found San Diego State University’s nondiscrimination policy doesn’t violate the Constitution.
The decision to stay out of the case avoids revisiting questions that resulted in a 2010 decision that said a law school can deny recognition to a Christian student group that wouldn’t let gays join. An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled then that University of California’s Hastings College of the Law could refuse to recognize campus groups that excluded people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.
In that case, the court on a 5-4 judgment upheld the lower court rulings saying a Christian group’s First Amendment rights of association, free speech and free exercise were not violated by the college’s nondiscrimination policy.
Several religious groups recognized by San Diego State also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to stay out of the 2010 case.
“I think it’s a great policy. I don’t think there should be any discrimination at all, in any way,” said Curtis Lester, 22, a fifth-year student and president of the Aztec Christian Association.
Lester said school recognition has been critical for his group. Along with being able to use the school mascot in its name, the Aztec Christian Association posted signs on campus for a meeting that drew about 80 people on campus.
Jayson Nicholson, assistant for the Agape House Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Diego State, said recognition allowed that group to recruit students at a table during Welcome Week for new students and hold religious services on campus. He enthusiastically backs the school policy.
“I personally feel it is positive not to discriminate in any way, shape or form,” he said.
The case is Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter v. Reed, 11-744.
The soon to be famous Reason Rally happens on Saturday, March 24, 2012, on the National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Here is information:
The American Atheists Convention follows. See:
Dave Silverman was just on CNN talking about the rally, and he was excellent!
Now, current weather forecast calls for rain in Washington, D.C. on March 24th.
If it rains, should you still come to the Reason Rally?
Some who were planning to attend may now be thinking maybe they should not because of rain.
Well, if you think that way, maybe you are right.
You might melt.
Maybe the enemies of freedom will wait to attack until you are warm, dry, well rested, feeling good, well fed, and comfy.
Maybe the forces of unreason will wait for some time when their attack will not interrupt anything else you might have or want to do.
This is the 100th year of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capitol.
The cherry blossoms are blooming early for us.
What global warming?
Anyhow, if it is just plain not “convenient” for you to attend this history making event, worry not.
Others will defend your rights and the rights of generations to come.
They always have so far.
But you really should be there.
Do you have something more important to do this weekend?
Edwin Kagin © 2012.
Fred Phelps’ Estranged Son Nate Phelps to Be Featured Guest at DC Event
By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
March 16, 2012|5:03 pm
The infamous Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has accepted an invitation to protest at the upcoming atheist “Reason Rally,” where one of the featured speakers will be WBC founder Fred Phelps’ estranged son.
Nate Phelps, 52, a self-described atheist who left the Phelps household when he was 18, is an advocate for gay rights and support for people who have grown up in a very religious household but have left that life behind. The younger Phelps has shared of some of his experiences with the WBC, claiming that his father abused him in the name of God and uses his church as a vehicle for his rage, MSNBC reported.
Nate Phelps will be one the many prominent speakers at the upcoming Reason Rally, scheduled for Saturday, March 24 in Washington D.C. Other big-name speakers will include secular biologist Richard Dawkins, comedian Tim Minchin,
Adam Savage of the Discovery Channel program “Mythbusters,” and skeptic James Randi, creator of “The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.”
“Nate Phelps brings a powerful voice and story to the rally,” Reason Rally organizer David Silverman said in a press release. “He shows us all that if you can come out as an atheist in that family, it’s possible anywhere.”
Billed as the largest gathering of the secular movement in the nation’s history, the Reason Rally is a free event on the National Mall with the intent to “unify, energize, and embolden” nonreligious Americans to gain legislative and social equality.
“The important thing to note about Westboro’s protest is that they were deliberately invited to be there by the organizers of the Reason Rally,” said Carson Weitnauer, director of Telos Ministries, in an interview with The Christian Post. “It is unclear to me why the organizers of the Reason Rally believe that having Westboro attend the Reason Rally will enhance the credibility of their event.”
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Telos is part of “True Reason,” a coalition of many Christian groups like Reasons for God and the Christian Apologetics Alliance who will be holding a counter event at the rally – however, their approach will be very different from the fire and brimstone tactics WBC usually employs.
“We will not have obnoxious signs, attempt to disrupt the gathering, chant loudly, or otherwise protest. We don’t think that protests are a good way to advance the cause of reason,” Weitnauer explained. “Therefore, what we are doing is daring to take the atheists at their word and offer respectful, reasonable dialogue, on a person to person basis, with those who are interested.”
The Reason Rally is a week from Saturday.
March 24, 2012.
On the Mall, Washington, D.C.
This is going to be the largest gathering of secular humans in the history of the world!
You need to be there. You can tell your children and your grandchildren that you were there. It promises to be the Woodstock of atheism. And people need to know that there are more than a few of us.
And these are some recommendations on what to bring. This is in no way an official list from any organization. These are my own suggestions, grounded in a history of having attended the Godless Americans March on Washington (GAMOW) on November 2, 2002, and lots of other outdoor activities, and having been director of Camp Quest for its first ten years.
In re GAMOW, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godless_Americans_March_on_Washington
And here are some videos from GAMOW : http://videos.mitrasites.com/godless-americans-march-on-washington.html
Many of those who attended, including myself, consider this one of the greatest days of their lives.
The Reason Rally is going to be much, much bigger.
But I digress. No one knows what the weather will be. It is not known for certain if it will be warm or cold, and if there will be rain, snow, or sunshine. It is known that you will be outside for a full day in whatever comes, with no place to go for shelter. Also, there is no guarantee that you can find water and food as easily as you could if you were not on the National Mall telling the world that it is okay to be an atheist.
Here are some Edwinian suggestions on what to bring to the Mall:
Water bottle with water in it.
Food. Trail mix and protein bars are good choices, but you can bring about anything you like that you are big enough to carry.
Hat, waterproof and with brim if possible. This is very important. Sunstroke is not fun.
Waterproof shoes or boots. You can wear athletic shoes or sandals if you wish if wet feet in wet socks and shoes do not trouble you. An extra pair of socks might be a good idea. Of course if we knew for sure there would be no rain, you could wear anything comfortable. But only god knows for sure what the weather will be, and she ain’t telling.
Full length pants. Not shorts. You can wear shorts if you like of course, and you will probably live, but you might not be happy if a winter storm comes or the sun turns your exposed skin into a sunburned horror. The back of your knee is particularly painful if sporting a flaming sunburn.
Long sleeve shirt. This helps guard against sunburn and is more adaptable to the weather. You can roll long sleeve shirts up. You cannot roll short sleeve shirts down. You might find this rule useful for lots of other things, like flying on commercial airlines. A long sleeve shirt also provides greater protection against flying insects, if any. And you can wear a short sleeved shirt with some cute slogan over or under the long sleeved shirt.
Sweater or sweat shirt.
Coat or jacket, preferably a waterproof one. Yes, coat or jacket, regardless of what the weather looks like the day of the Rally. These things can and do change. Sometimes rapidly. Ask my daughter who scheduled an outdoor wedding for a date, and place, on which there had not been rain on that day for over a hundred years. Well, there was. And only the greatest burst of competence successfully moved the event under canvas.
A large garbage bag for leaves can be very useful. It is waterproof. You can sit on it. You can also cut a slot for your head on the bottom of the bag, and holes on each side for your arms, and you have an instant, lightweight waterproof parka. This suggestion alone may have made it worth your time reading this blog.
Light folding chair or ground cloth of some kind, preferably waterproof. That is unless you really don’t mind being on your feet in an enormous crowd for hours. Some don’t. I am not among them.
Sun screen. You need it whether the sun is shining or is clouded over.
Camera. Optional, but recommended. We can all exchange our photos for years. I may post some shots from GAMOW.
A backpack in which to carry all of these goodies.
Please do not think me patronizing for telling you these things. I always make a list of what to take on such adventures and still sometimes neglect to include needed stuff. I may have left something important off on this one. Your comments are welcome.
Now, things not to bring:
Weapons of any kind.
Drugs not in prescription bottles.
Sticks. If you have a sign, which it is hoped you will, you cannot put it on a staff. It must be hand held. This is because such sticks can be used as weapons.
Finally, and most importantly, bring some common sense.
And let us have an epic, history making day!
Edwin Kagin © 2012