Saturday, February 20, 2016

Some hope, but no faith, in "interfaith" dialogue

I was moved last summer when elected Republican legislators in my neighboring state of South Carolina furled the confederate "battle flag" in response to the Charleston church massacre, but my hopes were quickly diminished by the sudden appearance of the "conquered banner" on some of my neighbors' Facebook pages, lawns, vehicles (typically pickup tricks), and even in the tops of some trees in my own home town! And yet these daily reminders of our dark past are punctuated by tonight's South Carolina GOP primary victory by a ring-wing populist demagogue with a counter-terrorism message that now involves pigs blood-dipped bullets. It's enough to cause a "crisis of hope" in the most faithful - and in the faithless.

Yet at the same time I am encouraged by - and have been honored to participate in - some recent local interfaith efforts that have allowed me to continue dreaming. I don't know if interfaith dialogue is what created the Religious Right or not, but I have noticed that they are typically not found at local interfaith activities in my area (except as occasional protestors). So I'm not too optimistic about the ability of interfaith dialogue or religious literacy to bring us all together. That said, my own recent involvement in several local interfaith groups has been a rewarding experience. And I think it is important for secular people of all types to participate in interfaith dialogue to better understand the diverse perspectives of religious people of different faiths and to expose them to some of the diversity in our own "community."

This is my hope, and I have a lot of dreams of what secular and progressive religious people can accomplish together if we have the will and the leadership and the understanding. We don't all sing Kumbaya, but that doesn't mean the answer is still blowing in the wind. We share a dream of creating a world for our kids that is hopeful, and we believe in extending the circle of - and being good to our - friends. So geht los.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Some thoughts on Super Bowl 50 from Denver, NC

Original Image Credit: CBS Philly
It's almost like Christmas (or the release of a new Star Wars movie) "where you can't go anywhere without listening to the same music...where all broadcasts, all songs, all jokes, all references, are - just for that magic few weeks - just exactly like living in fucking North Korea" (Christopher Hitchens). I live a couple miles north of Denver, NC and went to high school in Maiden (the "biggest little football town in the world"). The cafeteria workers at my office (in Charlotte) wear Panthers shirts every Friday. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of black cats and pleas to #KeepPounding.

From the local news...

WBTV News is your home of Super Bowl 50! Get complete Carolina Panthers coverage from our team heading to California: ...
Posted by WBTV News on Friday, January 29, 2016

To mental health PSAs...

TGIF! Anyone getting anything done today? #KeepPounding Carolina Panthers coverage:
Posted by WBTV News on Friday, February 5, 2016

And local weather forecasts...

SUPER BOWL FORECAST: Chris Larson WBTV tells us what we can expect » #KeepPounding #SB50
Posted by WBTV News on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Or churches and synagogues (for charity apparently, but still)...

You can't really go anywhere right now without encountering this moral abomination or the signs of denial. Needless to say, I'm not watching it and will be happy when it's all over...
"But I’m not optimistic that my personal boycott and call for reform will catch on. As evidence about the long-term brain damage being done to players on the field has become increasingly convincing, viewership for the NFL has only gone up. People don’t seem to care that by casting their eyes on it all season long, they are saying that the mortal violence that football espouses — in its current form — is acceptable.
It’s not acceptable. It’s inhumane. It’s a modern-day Roman Coliseum, a gladiatorial spectacle that ends with heads on a platter — in a lab being sliced open to see what went wrong. And, with every bloodthirsty cheer, we speed these fine young men on to that fate. But not me. Not anymore. I’m done."
 - Rev. Noah Van Niel, Episcopal priest and former fullback for the Harvard Crimson varsity football team, class of 2008.
Noah was a panelist in today's Super Bowl Sunday discussion about this issue at the Humanist Hub. It's worth 30 minutes of your time.

Update: Game over. Broncos won 24 - 10 (Newton didn't score any points). Let the conspiracy theories begin...

The woman who has continued to update her church's sign with supportive messages for the Carolina Panthers has these...
Posted by WSOC-TV on Monday, February 8, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A humanist wants me to read Bill Warner (French)

In response to my last post, a humanist suggested that I must familiarize myself with the writings of Bill Warner (Bill French) and related crusaders - otherwise I have "effectively pulled out of informed conversation about the issues at hand."

Bill Warner (French)
Oy vey, I think I'll let Bill speak for himself - apparently there's a lot of money in it...