By Kile Jones….
On February 28, 2011, I attended a meeting of Atheists United at the Center for Inquiry (CFI) in Hollywood, California. It was a typical day in southern California—sunny, beautiful, without a cloud in sight—when I pulled into the parking lot of the CFI. On a nearby mountain you could see the famous Hollywood Sign looming in the distance. The CFI is located next to a Mexican Pentecostal Church and a Christian Science Reading Room, proof of the religious diversity in Los Angeles. From the outside, CFI looks like more like a warehouse than a Church. Its electric sign, found on the street corner, not only announces headlines and CFI news, but also provides one of the only ways of detecting the building. While in the parking lot I was approached by the treasurer of Atheists United, Norm, who politely asked me if I was attending their meeting.
By Sherry Morton….
On June 28, 1969 the New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a mafia run basement bar in Greenwich Village known as a haven for homosexuals. In an effort to root out this “undesirable element,” Stonewall was a too often the target of police raids. On this particular sultry summer night, the desperation of a people oppressed for no reason other than their sexual orientation (the police seem to have no particular issue with mafia run establishments), boiled to the surface. Gay patrons and onlookers stood their ground, refusing to tolerate brutality and unjust treatment at the hands of the police. Patrons of Stonewall stopped dancing and started resisting; the police were trapped inside the Inn and days of rioting followed. Instead of containing the “social ill of homosexuality,” the Stonewall raid provided the necessary fuel to set the gay pride movement in motion.
The LDS decided to get a member convicted of polygamy and appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court. George Reynolds was a perfect candidate for this test case. Reynolds may believe whatever he wishes about the importance of polygamy, but that did not mean he could necessarily act upon that belief. Marriage, according to this reading, is the base of the entire society. From the marriage comes every other social relationship and institution, all the way up to the government.
It’s not always easy to be an atheist in a predominantly religious culture, but most of the challenges are manageable and getting easier with time. Some of my fellow non-believers would kill me for saying that, but it’s silly to suggest that it’s as difficult to be openly nonreligious now as it was in 1954. Not to mention 1454.
By Dan Beckett….
When people first hear about firewalking they often think of strange, ancient rituals performed by people with weird costumes and painted faces who talk funny and lived a long time ago. While it’s true that firewalking has been practiced for centuries, even millennia, in many cultures around the world, what people often don’t realize is that firewalking is alive and well today in the United States, with more people practicing it each year than at possibly any other time in history! Many have found it, as I have, to be a profoundly moving spiritual experience. I am a firewalker who first encountered the practice in a spiritual growth workshop hosted by Edwene Gaines in Valley Head, Alabama. To date I’ve attended five firewalks, and want to share my experience and understanding of the practice to those who may be interested in learning more about it.
By Joseph Rosenthal, Georgia State University…..
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” responds Jesus defiantly in the Gospel of Matthew (4:4) to Satan’s entreaty to break his forty-day fast. This phrase has been used variously by Christians throughout history as a tribute to the virtues of moderation and as a justification for some of the most extreme forms of asceticism. Dietary practice is the second most popular domain of religiously motivated self-denial, surpassed only by matters of sex and human intimacy. The diversity of rituals, laws, and red tape surrounding the consumption of food ranges from prohibitions of basic food types (e.g. shellfish, pork, alcohol, etc.) to extended periods of fasting. The religious preoccupation with what goes into the body goes well beyond hatred of gluttony, sometimes verging on total caloric restriction.
By Tito Ferguson, Georgia State University ….
When considering the theorists Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell, it is not difficult to recognize similarities in their theories of religious thought. Comparisons can be made between them in regards to their methods of analyzing separate traditions as well as their attempts to draw universal conclusions from them. Not only do these two theorists demonstrate the ability to take unrelated traditions and create a new way of viewing them as part of a larger picture, but they also resemble each other in how later theorists consider their work. Both men inspired a change in the way religion was thought about by the public, and both have earned the criticism of modern and feminist scholars.
By Lady Arsinoe……
America has lost the moral high ground, though. Beginning on September 11, 2001, collectively as a nation, we condemned the celebrations in the streets throughout the Muslim world. We denounced the carnival atmosphere in the Middle East as the World Trade Center collapsed. We cried for the murder of over 3000 innocent people. We said, how barbaric it was to celebrate death and destruction in that manner. Those people aren’t human, we declared.
By Teo Sagisman
I lost both my parents at what I consider a young age. My religious background is that of a secular Turkish Muslim but I now consider myself a spiritual seeker more than religious. I lost my father when I was only five years of age. My paternal grandfather, originally from Eastern Turkey, had migrated to Istanbul in the early 1900’s. His last name, Sagisman, I later discover belonged to a list of Jewish converts to Islam (Dönmeh) who followed Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) a 17th-century Jewish Kabbalist who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah but was eventually forced by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV to convert to Islam. After Sabbatai’s conversion, a number of Jews followed him into Islam and became the Dönmeh.
By Lady Arsinoe….
Beltane is the time of year when Wiccans celebrate the union of the God and the Goddess within the metaphor of a wedding. We celebrate the Masculine Activating Principle coming together with the Feminine Generating Principle, bonded together to bring forth life. Plus, we are a fun-loving bunch, and what can be more fun than frolicking in the woods all night a’ conjuring summer in? When boiled down to its basic components, Beltane is all about fertility and the blessings fertility brings. The obvious fact is fertility is all about sex. It’s difficult to bring about the next generation without it! Plant sex drifts on the breeze and fills the gutters and clogs our noses. Plant sex becomes the fruits and vegetables we eat as the summer progresses. The birds and bunnies are at it, too.
By Joe Fernander, Religion Nerd….
Have you ever walked around a group of people and caught wind of their conversation? If you’re like most people, you have. Walking through a crowd of students at Georgia State University makes this activity all the more interesting. In one walk around campus you might hear stories of sex, betrayal, money and interestingly enough – Jesus. Today alone I was able to catch seven conversations that were clearly about Jesus and the Bible (not including the street evangelist or Gideon’s). It seems that no matter what religious tradition or worldview you follow, Jesus proves to be of some importance to your life; after all you do live in the year 2010 A.D.
By Teo Sagisman….
The “N” word, one of the vilest and most disgusting words in English language! Every American knows not to use it to address anyone unless they mean to denigrate their target. It has been over a year since my encounter with the man who called me a “sand nigger,” and yet, it seems like yesterday. I was reminded of the incident the other day when I read about the story of an e-mail which included a photo-shopped image of President Obama’s face superimposed on the body of a baby chimpanzee. This email was created and distributed by Marilyn Davenport, a 74-year-old Tea Party activist and a GOP official from Orange County California.
By Michel-Camille Bordeau…..
I’ve never been entirely satisfied with radical views that reject the possibility that a higher entity ‘exists’ (stick with me, this is still a freethinking argument, I haven’t lost it… yet). Complete denial of such an important cultural creation as God is no less problematic than blind devotion to it. ‘How about God as a fig Newton of our imagination?’ My kid would ask. I couldn’t blame him: how about God as a re-presented, fictionalized entity?
A lot of people think magic and witchcraft is for hippies, crazies, or those who have been kidnapped by aliens. I would say to them, a lot of “normal” people are running around with some pretty cognitive dissonant ideas of their own (Birthers, for example. Or any politician. And Fundamentalists of every stripe). The problem for these people is I have facts and science to back up my beliefs, not just wishful thinking. Beliefs I am more than willing to change if contrary evidence and fact is provided.