Nice Work If You Can Get It

April 16, 2018

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The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

You already know that school voucher proponents look for ways to leech public dollars away from public education and redirect that money to private and religious schools. Now Republicans in Congress are aiming their tax-dollar-vacuums at a program called Impact Aid, which would particularly hurt military families. To understand why, and why it’s awful, check out this op-ed by CFI’s Jason Lemieux in the San Antonio Express-News.

There’s this really cool literary and arts movement called Dark Mountain, which wrestles with how to be human in a world that is falling apart, and twice a year they release a new book of writings and art, and they’re awesome. The thirteenth such book was released to day and…oh…hey…what’s this? Why, look at that! I’m right there on page 95! Well WHAT do you KNOW. Yep, an essay of mine called “The Dead Tree” is part of this edition, and I’m as proud as proud can be. And that’s a big deal for me, because, you know, despair and self-loathing and whatnot.

Pasadena News Now talks up the Los Angeles March for Science Rally and Expo, which CFI West is helping to make happen.

New on Reasonable TalkExperimental psychology professor Sheldon Helms discusses the very real dangers of “gay conversion” therapy, and how anti-gay groups twist concepts in mental health to further their agenda.

At CSICOP.org, Kavin Senapathy considers the practice of “lotus birth,” where the umbilical cord stays attached between mother and newborn until it falls away on its own. Kavin concludes, “There is no need to legitimize a high-risk, no-benefit phenomenon that didn’t start until the 1970s.” 

Evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson is in trouble in Turkey, facing charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member” (I feel like the poetry is lost in translation) and “espionage,” allegedly linked to insurgent Kurds.

Kimberly Lawson at Broadly writes about how Friday the 13th, now considered a day of bad luck, has its roots in a celebration of “the goddess” and female creativity. I find that totally plausible and even likely, but the case is somewhat muddled by the fact that Lawson seeks the expertise of one Gina Spriggs, “a North Carolina-based futurist and holistic intuitive.” Nice work if you can get it.

The Economist looks at Buddhism’s slow and steady rise in the U.S., which is all about peace and mindfulness. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued a report on the situation in Burma, where Buddhists are massacring Rohingya Muslims. Just remember kids: Anything nice can, and likely will, be ruined.

Back in the U.S., National Geographic tells how in spite of prejudice, Muslims in America are doing better and better.

RNS talks to former president Jimmy Carter about his new book Faith, and how the word applies to things well outside of religion. 

This dude in Oregon, who doesn’t seem crazy at all, says he doesn’t have to pay taxes because tax dollars fund abortions (except they don’t) and he shouldn’t have to pay taxes that fund things he doesn’t like (except he does).

As evidenced by the fellow occupying the Oval Office and yelling at his TV, income does not always correlate with being well-informed. The researchers for a Michigan State University study say:

…nearly half of Americans (49 percent) in households earning at least US$50,000 annually believe they know more than the average person about global food systems, while just 28 percent of those earning less are as confident. However, when we surveyed people on a variety of food topics, affluent respondents fared no better, and at times worse, than their lower-earning peers. 

Art Bell, former host of the paranormal-obsessed radio show Coast to Coast AM, has died at 72.

Quote of the Day

You’ve probably seen this by now, but come on it’s so great.

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