Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Danger of Unrelenting Religious Terrorism

Members of ISIL on the march
Two American journalists and now a British aid worker beheaded by those who choose to use the sword to make their point rather than diplomacy or numerous other channels to convey their ideas, views and religious faith. This represents a humanist and secular crisis on the order of other genocides carried out by ISIL since gaining military power in the vacuum of leadership within the region or outside of it.

All three men murdered knew that theirs was a serious profession. Two were willing to risk their lives to report on the ongoing wars and sectarian violence occurring in the hotbed of battle across Iraq, Syria and other states within the Middle-east. The other, a humanitarian aid worker, helping to rebuild and bring urgent and fundamental resources like clean water and food supplies to those who had become refugees in all the fighting.

Each of the men kidnapped lead different lives up until they were offered to ISIL. In the end each was held for ransom and each man paid the ultimate sacrifice for his labors through a video taped barbaric beheading. The intent of the tapes are to show power but in reality they show cowardice.

Mr. David Haines
While I do not know the spiritual beliefs of British aid worker David Haines, the organization he volunteered for, ACTED, appears to be a non-denominational NGO. According to the organization’s website its purpose is to raise funds and provide humanitarian support to those impacted by war. This is a very noble cause indeed.

David Haines, acting as a humanist, was not profiled in Godless Grace. However, others like him who do provide humanitarian support for those impacted by social, political or economic violence are profiled. And many do recall their own terror at times doing their work in overtly religious regions and nations.

Sam Harris has an excellent post on his website regarding the religious extremest threat. The title being "Sleepwalking to Armageddon." Apparently, it was offered to The Wall Street Journal and also Slate but each turned it down. I recommend it highly.

The response to ISIL’s violence is not a “clash of civilizations” as will be portrayed as propaganda by the group and their few equally radical supporters. But it will serve as a global reason to refrain from using one’s religious faith either as a cause for good or evil since both concepts are subjective. It is a call for all who call themselves Humanists or secularists, either as individuals and within their nations, to stand up and repudiate such horrible religious violence, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The response to this religious fanaticism IS NOT anti-faith. The response does and should stand against the anti-humanist and the pro-fascist stance brought to the forefront by ISIL and those groups who would use their religious faith and doctrine as justification for terrible violence.

ACTED has put out a press release. I offer it to you below. I also urge you to view their website which I have linked to in this post. 

“ACTED Communique on the Assassination of David Haines 

ACTED aid agency is deeply appalled and horrified by the assassination of David Haines. ACTED strongly condemns with the utmost of force these crimes. In this tragic moment, our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. 

All of the ACTED team empathise and share their pain. David was a new member of the ACTED team supporting the emergency humanitarian response for the displaced Syrian people in Atmeh camp near to the Turkish border. 

David was appreciated by the ACTED team and all those around him, notably for his generosity, commitment, and his professionalism. Since his abduction, David has constantly been at the forefront of our minds and efforts. David will remain in the hearts and minds of everyone in ACTED. 

The horrible assassination of David, an aid worker, goes against all humanitarian principles and is a crime against humanity. This barbaric crime must not remain unpunished.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

13 Years

WTC - Never Forget

Never forget the innocents who perished.

Never forget the brave who entered the buildings and never returned home.

Never forget those who took control of their fate in Pennsylvania.

Never forgive the human excrement who wanted to be remembered this way.

Never let those who would place blame on the victims obscure the evil planned and executed that horrible day.

Never forget to love and hug the ones closest to you

Never forget to say "I'm sorry" or to be present for those who smile when you enter a room.

Life is too short. Life is so special. Live every moment as if it were your last.

And let us remember.

In Memoriam.  September 11, 2001

The Paleolibrarian
September 11, 2014

Memorial for Flight 93 in
Shanksville, PA

The Pentagon -After the
Terrorist Attack

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Godless Revival Update

From the ashes of the Sunday Assembly movement came the Godless Revival.

Based on first hand accounts of the inner workings of SA, it appeared that that the leadership was uncomfortable engaging atheists. And for that matter they also seemed to feel that the words "atheist" and "atheism" were too controversial. As the former leaders in the movement tell it, there was a not so silent covenant that demanded SA franchisees ignore a large and growing segment of the freethought movement, specifically those who are out and proud atheists.

Enter the steering committee members who broke with SA group but who felt there remained a strong need for a place where non-believers of all stripes, shapes and philosophical points of view could gather. Where on a slow Sunday they could listen to some excellent music, share openly in a relaxed social space and talk about things that mattered to them without feeling rejected.

Michael Dorian
So began the Godless Revival. I wrote about the GR after its first event last November in New York City. Long-time friends Michael Dorian and Lee Moore, both activists in the atheist movement in Manhattan and beyond and Don Kennedy Albert, a new friend and fine musician are the creative force in developing the new group.  Think of the trio as the  visionaries behind the Godless Revival movement. Now, almost a year later, they too are looking to expand and offer their combined wisdom for the development of new Godless Revivals to anyone who wishes to copy the format and capitalize on their success.
Lee Moore

The meeting I attended last November was vastly different that the most recent one which I attended just this past August. Last year the dust had not settled in the schism between the SA and GR groups - frankly it was a messy divorce.  And for the GR there was perhaps an identity issue because while the Revival was not the Assembly, it certainly wasn't distinct enough to own its gravitas just after one event.

Fast forward less than a year later and we find the Godless Revival to be a robust, active and especially fun place to be on a Sunday (or any day really). The creators of the GR are much more self-assured and confident. The events offer excellent music, lots of attendees and a feeling of camaraderie and good natured ribbing.  The hosts play off each other and the audience well. It certainly isn't contrived and there is a warmth that comes with feeling accepted.  These events, as are the organizers, as are the attendees are all insiders and the vibe in the room is especially cordial and genuine.

Don Kennedy Albert
Frankly, the hosts can be bawdy but they are each entertaining and interesting to watch as they ad-lib through their introductions and throughout the program. Aside from the great music and food and drink, a typical GR event will usually include a guest speaker (who only gets about 15 minutes as to not drone on or kill the buzz), there are several skits, a discussion of current events and loads of improvisational comedy.

But at its core we should not forget that this is atheist programming with a purpose. It is here to essentially tell the world that those who are out as non-believers need not be ashamed for their identity or their skeptical, freethought and humanist conclusions.

And that's the whole point of building community through the Godless Revival movement. The inspiration and vision was and is to leave no one behind and build the biggest and best tent possible. The creators of the Revival have done this well.  If you're interested in bringing this form of programming to your town, you should definitely reach out to its creators as they'd love to hear from you.