The Best Possible Time to Be Alive

June 19, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Yesterday, CFI organized a protest outside the Indonesian Embassy to demand the release and exoneration of Alexander Aan, beaten by a mob and convicted of “spreading religious hatred” via his atheism and satirical Facebook posts. Our boss Ron Lindsay reports that the folks within the embassy were definitely paying attention (how often does their embassy get protests?) so we at least know that our message was heard. Here are some pics, and our thanks to those who helped spread the word.

It may not be over. Aan’s lawyers tell Australian radio that there may be more charges forthcoming.

On Aan’s treatment, Ed Brayton says, “This is fascism carrying a star and crescent.”

For this week’s Point of Inquiry, Chris Mooney talks to the host of my very favorite-est show, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

You need to know more about our CFI interns. Perhaps the best way to understand who they are is to read randomly fielded questions from a link-sharing service! Tony Lakey and Stef McGraw took part in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session yesterday, and it’s all here.

An unexpected development within the atheosphere: Leah Libresco of Unequally Yoked has left our godless club for Catholicism. Leah writes:

It turns out . . . I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant.  It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth.  And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth.

So we’re obviously a bit befuddled by this turn of events, but I hope folks will be nice to her.

On Leah’s conversion, Hemant writes:

I won’t pretend to understand whatever she’s going through. But whenever you make a big announcement like that, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Jen McCreight is more blunt:

I’m seriously disappointed. Of all religions to join, you choose Catholicism? One of the most despicable, nonsensical, homophobic, misogynistic religions on the planet? Because of its system of morality? I could understand saying you’re converting to deism or unitarianism or maybe even buddhism, but Catholicism?

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, which I didn’t know paid us such close attention (yes I did), gloats, and another Patheos Catholic blogger also trumpets the conversion and in attempting to compliment Leah, compares her to Lex Luthor himself, Mr. Popey-head (get ready to slam your head on your desk, emphasis mine):

Leah’s is a mind rather exquisitely open. Like our present pope, she is willing to discuss anything at all, to see where it leads.

Responding to some harsher, knee-jerk reactions, Leah asks:

. . . if you have no idea where I’m coming from today, I’d prefer you pause and wait to comment until you do a little browsing through the archives. . . . Doing this kind of research is (1) good manners and (2) good tactics, since without it, you’re only going to be able to level very generic or vague critiques, and I’m probably not going to wobble.

Sharon Hill would prefer you not donate to an expedition to prove that the Earth is freaking hollow:

It’s OK to entertain the idea of legends. They are romantic and exciting and they tell us MOST about the people who recounted them. But when you are dealing with lives and money and huge efforts, to be irresponsible in presenting the justification (or the justification is thin like tissue as in this case of hollow earth) to the public is unethical and shady. It’s false advertising at the least, potential fraud at its worst.

Tom Flynn would like us to rely less on links. Oops.

Reacting to the big Free Inquiry study on the tax revenue lost to religion, David Badash declares:

. . . it’s time Americans come to the realization that there is no need for — nor are we in a position to continue to subsidize — tax exemption for religious organizations any longer.

Am I part of the problem? Op-ed in NYT says that liberals are guilty of giving air time, and thus legitimacy, to the most insane aspects of the right.

Looks like SyFy is going to start airing a new show about haunted high schools or something, some kind of Ectoplasm 90210.

Via Kylie, you can help crowdfund a guide to psychic

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, you’re not a UFO (says Joe Nickell).

Senators Marco Rubio and Rob Portman, presumptive short-listers for Romney’s veep, address the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. Portman talked about his mother’s immortal soul:

In her time of trial, her faith deepened … and my faith deepened, and my whole family’s faith deepened. She knew she was going to her eternal life. And for 16 years until he passed away about a year-and-a-half ago, my father – every day – couldn’t wait for the opportunity to join my mom in heaven.

There’s no video, but Hemant and Jesse Galef did a CNN piece together, and Hemant has the transcript (and invites you to “use your imagination”).

Indian skeptic leader charged with blasphemy splits for Finland as he appeals.

Doubters in Pittsburgh begin a new group, Youth Humanist.

In Part 3 of the Face-off in Florida, CFI’s Center Stage podcast has a Q&A session with American Atheists’ Dave Silverman.

AU on the confusion of Missouri’s “right to pray” amendment: “It seems even the court doesn’t yet understand the full implications of the scheme.”

Here come the nuns! Here come the nuns! Here come the nuns! (Context)

Quote of the Day

As though to make me less befuddled about her conversion, easing the blow, as it were, Leah included a quote from Arcadia, the Best Play Ever Written — indeed, a selection I often used as an audition piece in my theatre life, spoken by the character Valentine:

It makes me so happy… A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.

Of course, this quote is about the majesty of new scientific discoveries rather than mystical revalation, but we’ll let that go.

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. 

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