The Humanist Advocate

“A Pair of Spurs and a Fig-Leaf is Aplenty”

The editors of The Bible According to Mark Twain suggest that this is the last “substantial” piece of work written by Clemens. The manuscript with the advice on etiquette was given to his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, when Paine arrived in Bermuda in 1910, where he had come to assist Clemens return home to Connecticut because Clemens was suffering from angina pectoris: chest pains likely the result of coronary heart disease, and the probable cause of his death one week…

The Secularist’s Anxiety

      I have Secularist’s Anxiety (SA). It is not a medical or psychological condition, but one I made up to explain an effect a trend of national events that are possible forebodings of difficult times ahead for we who are serious about living and teaching secularism. Maybe I should call it secular jitters. Much of what I relate to in this opinion piece is probably familiar to all readers here, and quite recently published. But I believe listing…

BOOK REVIEW “The Testaments”

Margaret Atwood’s latest (September 2019) novel is The Testaments, a sequel to her bestseller, The Handmaid’s Tale. Both stories are told from the perspectives of women living in Gilead, a women-oppressing theocracy that overtakes the United States by revolution, then becomes mired in the many difficulties that inevitably arise when religious institutions have worldly power.  The Testaments gives us three very different first-person perspectives on the beginning of the end of Gilead. One narrator is a young woman who grew…

Europe’s Self-Guilt and Identity Loss

    The increasing influence of the Muslim presence in the Western Hemisphere has been reshaping the sociopolitical structure which has reached a tipping point. The problem started back during the eighties when multiculturalism became a consumable identity in many countries across Europe and was heavily promoted with the rise of globalism. The eighties also ushered in a significant historical period with the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. By then, the scars of…

On NOSHA @ 20, and Living On

Even it its early years, the collective and evolving group of individuals of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association was already developing an ethic of action—working together and getting things done to make its ideology known and its principles something to be reckoned with— owing in no small to the commitment of  its first president Harry Greenberger and other founding and early members. In this c-Span video from 2002, Greenberger shares some of the accomplishments of our small-group organization, and…

Positive News: Christianity is on the Decline in America

    The trend of the changing religious landscape in the United States began in the 1980s. The country is the Christian hub of the West with an unprecedented influence of church into politics. In 1990,  88 percent of Americans identified as Christians but since, that percentage has been been in decline. By 2007, it was 77 percent and by 2016 it reached a historic low of 69 percent with only 62 percent belonging to church congregations.   This shift…

Secular Spirituality: A Misnomer?

It would be difficult to deny that many of our fellow humans have experienced a mental state in reaction to an event external to themselves that they would classify, for lack of another term, as spiritual. (It would be equally difficult to overlook that the word, and its derivation spirituality, are often overused, or exaggerate the actual mental state the user experiences—remember what happened to “awesome”?) But what is a spiritual experience, anyway? This mental state may also be described…

How Trumpism will Outlive Trump’s Presidency

  It is not coincidental to assume that Donald Trump won the presidency by chance for being an outsider. This rhetoric of him being an anti-establishment person who managed to break the system in order to win over the White House isn’t by any means realistic. In fact, Donald J. Trump is part of the traditional establishment, the elitists,  who have been running the country for decades. And, regardless of the bogus methods he used accumulate his wealth, Trump is…

Two Crosses vs. The Lemon Test

The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation has its hands full right about now. Not only is its staff busying itself with all types of proposals for religious-based legislation at both the state and national levels through a campaign dubbed Project Blitz, it is also active in monitoring and likely lobbying against secular challenges to existing laws and public displays of Christian faith in and on public buildings and public open spaces. Though not affiliated with the similarly named National Prayer Breakfast,…

BOOK REVIEW “Why Religion?: A Personal Story”

When I first noticed Elaine Pagels’ recent book Why Religion? A Personal Story, I anticipated a scholarly analysis of what motivated humans to hold religious beliefs or engage in religious practices. I could not have been more wrong. This book is intensely personal, subjective, and emotional. Perhaps I should not have been so surprised. Religion is, after all, something personal, subjective, and emotional. Dr. Pagels is a professor of religion at Princeton University, and a scholar of Gnostic literature, works…

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