The Humanist Advocate

Animism and Monotheism in Mali as Microcosm

      When American atheists think about religion, I imagine we are usually thinking about monotheism and its influence on the world we live in. We are not usually thinking about animism, or paganism, or whatever other term we might use to describe pre-monotheistic thought and practices. Those ancient cultures were obliterated by the extreme hostility of the monotheistic religions, and that all happened a long time ago.   At least, it happened a long time ago in Europe and…

The Religion Report

Religion. June 28, 2021   One of the great advantages of traveling to a different world (such as Mali) is the opportunity for obtaining the parallax view, the perspective on your own culture that you can never get from inside that culture, especially such a self-contained bubble as America.   As an atheist in a country much more actually religious than the United States, I am forced to confront many things I would not even see in the United States….

A New Challenge

    The fourth in a series of the experiences of NOSHA friend Robert Wilfong using the LEGO system of hands on learning as a gateway to more and more complex skills useful in a technocratic world, and an honest assessment of his own limitations that must be overcome to continue advancement; along with some observations on group behavior.         June 7 2021 At the fifth session of the Mali Lego Project in the Belle Tanti Nana…

Getting Started— Learning by LEGO

The following is the third in a series about the experiences of NOSHA member Robert Wilfong in his quest to introduce the LEGO teaching curriculum in a school in Bamako, Mali. He plans to update his progress and personal thoughts about the program as time permits. Here are reports from the earliest sessions, along with some observations about the Malian culture.   May 22, 2021   Seydou and I launched the Mali LEGO Project in his children’s school yesterday. Two…

Guitar Strings and LEGOs

The following is the second part of a series “From Here to Bamako” about ΝΟSHA friend and humanitarian Robert Wilfong’s experiences in pioneering a revolutionary teaching method in one small part of the world much in need of it.     Robert Wilfong recalls his first teaching experience in Bamako volunteering to help instructors at the Institut National des Arts with conversational English. His tour guide had taken him there to possibly find a solution to why Malian guitarists very rarely…

From Here to Bamako: Report from a Hometown Humanist

Some 400 miles southwest of Timbuktu—a place which may stir the imagination and conjure up a fantasy of a mystical, unknown and remote place somewhere at the Earth’s end—is Bamako, the capital of Mali in western Africa. The large, linear semi-arid geographical area the width Africa known as the Sahel, just south of the Great Sahara desert where Bamako lies would itself seem  faraway and exotically foreign to many in North America. Even with a population of about 2.5 million,…

Zooming with NOSHA

We did a short, unscientific survey in January to find out about the video conferencing habits of our humanist community since the start of the pandemic, and now that we’re on our way to being active again with our vaccinated NOSHA group later this summer, we wanted to reflect on the results.  A LITTLE HISTORY NOSHA started doing weekly Zoom “check-ins” back in late March 2020 at the suggestion of NOSHA members Joyce and Dave Thomas, our representatives with Together Louisiana,…

A Modest Proposal for a Guide to the Culture Wars

        Are the culture wars getting too weird? Too confusing? Are you not sure where you stand on Doctor Seuss or Potato Head gender? Do you have mixed feelings about cancel culture, or the future direction of identity politics? Don’t just trust to your gut, a la Donald Trump. I would like to propose a reliable guide to the culture wars. I believe your attitude toward each culture war issue will be determined by your position on a…

Is American Humanism a Failed Project?

    Probably no better quote can be found about fundamentalist religion’s theological stance towards intellectualism, the need for reason, the progressive nature of human knowledge, the inevitable rise of specialization and expertise in a complex world, and the institutions that promote and sustain them, and the folly of superstition and dogma, than this from Bill Donahue writing for the radically theocratic Catholic League: “Susan Jacoby…. is not ready for the asylum, but she is ready to find a home…

Rethinking the First Amendment

      Make no mistake. Social media has indeed distorted our reality. How do you know what you read is real? How can information authentication be trusted in today’s polarizing America? The Information Age has split our society and made us live in multi-dynamic realities. This is dangerous because it is only the beginning of what will become the new norm in a society that has become increasingly immersed in the virtual world.   The distant, far-from-actuality realities we…

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