August meeting tomorrow
From 2 to 4 pm tomorrow (Saturday, August 17), Corvallis Secular Society will have its monthly meeting. It will be at Corl House here in Corvallis: http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1144 .
I am looking forward very much to getting back to Cambridge, and being able to say what I think and not to mean what I say: two things which at home are impossible. Cambridge is one of the few places where one can talk unlimited nonsense and generalities without anyone pulling one up or confronting one with them when one says just the opposite the next day.
[Bertrand Russell, as a college student in the 1890s: Letter to Alys Pearsall Smith (1893); published in The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell, Volume 1: The Private Years (1884–1914), edited by Nicholas Griffin.]
Issues for discussion:
Preaching to the Nones: The Sunday Assembly
Upon entering a Sunday Assembly, held in historic York Hall in East London, one could easily assume that these gatherings are yet another attempt to plant a holy hipster church. If you stick around, however, it becomes clear that these atheist services take on the upbeat tempo of an evangelical praise service, sans any signs of Jesus junk. Described by its founders as “a godless congregation that’s part atheist church, part foot-stomping show, and 100 percent celebration of life,” the Sunday Assembly is the brainchild of British comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones.
Switzerland wants a secular national anthem
Switzerland wants to get rid of its old-fashioned “hymn-like” national anthem and replace it with a modern, secular version. Beats “God Save the Queen.”
France considers banning religious symbols in universities
A French Government-funded research institute is recommending that the wearing of religious symbols — such as crucifixes, Jewish Kippahs and Muslim headscarves — should be banned in the country’s universities to ease “escalating religious tensions in all areas of university life.”
City to publicly address Memorial controversy
The City of Coos Bay, Oregon, maintains a “war memorial” in a city park. It is a Christian cross. It is telling that the City Council has engaged the Liberty Institute to advise them in two executive sessions (sessions closed to the public). The Liberty Institute is a conservative Christian advocacy and legal defense organization – hardly a neutral source of legal advice for a secular government body.
From Messiah to Hitler, what you can and cannot name your child
Legal decisions about children must weigh parents’ right to raise their children however they see fit, an implicit freedom the Supreme Court has grounded in the Constitution, against the government’s “parens patriae” authority — Latin meaning father of the country — which allows officials to intervene on behalf of vulnerable kids. Though many states have laws governing what a parent can name their child and there are times when a child’s name might warrant action, family law professors say “Messiah” didn’t put the infant in harm’s way.