A Deep and Undulating Whoop

May 21, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Now that was a conference!

This was no egg-headed snoozer, this was no reiteration of why we like Darwin so much (not that there’s anything wrong with those). The Women in Secularism conference was as fantastic, fulfilling, and enlightening an event as we could ever have hoped. Once a glimmer in Melody Hensley’s eye, it brought together an excellent mix of thinkers and personalities that had everyone opening their eyes to new perspectives. (Oh, and Jennifer Michael Hecht gave a poetry reading — how cool is that?) There’s a lot already, as you’ll see below, that’s being said about this past weekend, and I’m sure it’s only the beginning.  

Luckily for all those who could not attend, it was entirely possible to absorb a great deal of the conference 140 characters at a time. The hashtag #wiscfi will give you the full stream, which included summaries, updates, reactions, jokes, rants, pictures, and resources of all types. Other than the super-amazing official CFI twitter account (run by some guy), other great tweeps that covered the conference included @surlyamy@abiodork@kropotkin, CFI-NY’s own @_stephanieleroy, and @szvan, who I somehow managed not to meet. There were many, many others, too, but these were the folks that popped up most often from my vantage point.  

There was also some great live-blogging of the conference, which is awesome. Here’s Ophelia’s and Ashley Miller’s work (and did you know she did ukulele videos? I love this movement sometimes). Also, Kim Rippere has a wrap-up, gives us an A+ 

The Clergy Project’s Catherine Dunphy is bullish on the impact of the conference:

So now that the conference has wrapped and we have heard one another’s voices and been challenged by the scope of systemic sexism, both in the west and thanks to Wafa Sultan; in the Islamic world, what can we do? If being a member of the Clergy Project has taught me anything, it is that we must keep talking, working and deconstructing these ideologies, both religious and cultural, that limit the full expression of women and our lived experiences. 

Before the conference, Minnesota Atheists’ Atheist Talk interviews our boss Ron Lindsay on secularism, the need for the WiS conference, ethics, and more

Stephanie Zvan, in the form of a dialogue, runs with Jen McCreight’s reminder that there is an insidious issue of poorly-behaving men at secularist events 

EmilyHasBooks rounds up a group of followable female tweeters in honor of the conference 

And just as we showed up for the big event, a UFO had just visited the District 

CFI-Indiana’s Susan Lantzer goes on WFIU radio to talk about our suit to allow seculars to solemnize marriages  

LA Times tallies up some of Dr. Oz’s woo 

Robert Blaskiewicz writes for CSI that he’s hearing conspiratorial voices 

CSI’s Kylie Sturgess and Ben Radford on Kylie’s podcast

Depressing look in the Guardian at Texas’s war on history 

Must-read: Via Letters of Note, Einstein in 1936 explains to a young girl whether scientists pray  

Fascinating piece by Jodi Kantor in NYT on the major influence Mormonism has over Mitt Romney, despite how quiet he is about it in the campaign:

. . . take Mr. Romney’s frequent tributes to American exceptionalism. “I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag,” he said in announcing his bid for the presidency last June. Every presidential candidate highlights patriotism, but Mr. Romney’s is backed by the Mormon belief that the United States was chosen by God to play a special role in history, its Constitution divinely inspired. 

And if Romney succeeds in “mainstreaming” Mormonism, Noah Feldman sees some reason for caution:

If Mormons think of themselves as another Christian denomination, the risk of defection rises. The distinctive Mormon beliefs in a new scripture and in the possibility of joining the supernal realm for eternal life will come into jeopardy precisely because they mark differences with the Protestant mainstream. If you believe you are not that different from others, there will be a tendency to downplay those practices and beliefs that suggest otherwise. 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Georgetown says church-state separation is “a fundamental principle in our unique democracy.”  

In These Times interviews Chris Mooney 

Rose Schwartz notes that the president has come out for nontheist Rep. Pete Stark in his tough primary fight 

Catholic Review: Belief in nothing isn’t the challenge to religio
, it’s the “new religion” of “new atheism” 

40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men fill Citi Field to combat “the siren song of the Internet,” which was streamed, of course, on the Internet  

Something to keep in mind about Bigfoot when you’re tracking him, his howl is “a deep and undulating whoop that starts low and ends in a high, feral squeal or resolves completely, like a siren.” 

CSI’s Joe Nickell featured in Fox News piece on the Shroud of Turin

NCSE: Alabama creationism bill dies of neglect 

Hemant on the unfortunately still-relevant Draw Muhammad Day:

People will keep drawing images of the Islamic prophet until Muslims stop censoring other people from doing it. If they can’t handle freedom of expression, that’s their problem.  

Hemant also rounds up some Global Atheist Convention video highlights 

Jim Parker of the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas encourages nonbelievers to come out with unveiling of a new billboard

The NAACP comes out for same-sex marriage 

Quote of the Day     

Benedict Rogers in NYT looks at the crackdown on irreligion in Indonesia, citing specifically Alexander Aan:

I went to meet Alex Aan because as a Christian, I believe in the freedom of religion, which includes the right not to believe. 

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI . Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta