Well – that was a long hiatus!
(“We’re Back!” by Lonely Island – very NSFW, as they usually are.)
Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past three years: ()
OK, not ten years, but the Humanist Small Group had its tenth meeting today, again at Andala in Cambridge near Central. Breaking from past tradition (appropriately no doubt), we read a text in advance — Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism — and mostly talked about the issues it raised: freedom of choice vs. determinism, morality without God, and whether human beings have an essence.
Towards the end one of the new participants “came out” as a Christian, which was nice, during a stretch of discussion of whether a religious person can fully experience ethical quandaries if they are distracted by irrelevant considerations from sacred texts or theology. Even before that revelation, there seemed to be general agreement that religious people would be welcome to come to our meetings if they were interested.
The group is hoping to expand, although if it becomes much larger it may need to divide to retain its “Small” and intimate character. The facilitator just launched a blog to publicize the group’s activities at humanistsoffline.org; if you’re interested in coming, stay tuned there, though it likely will be on July 13 at 12:30 at Andala again.
(While we’re on websites, group members also post about general humanist topics at humanismonline.org. I might start doing so there soon.)
A point about the reading under the cut: I was surprised how many people took Sartre to task for saying human beings did not have an essence. ()
At Mind on Fire here.
“The stuff that really brings people together, and makes us happy to live together, originates from a caring and thoughtful mind that’s been exposed to many streams of education.”
That was the key point I took away from a presentation — talk, acoustic concert, and Q&A — by Greg Graffin, frontman and co-songwriter for the seminal punk band Bad Religion, who was honored with an award the Saturday before last at Harvard’s Memorial Church. (more…)
Pending conversations with John, this Wednesday I’m planning to post about Greg Graffin’s talk and acoustic concert last night at the reception of the “Rushdie Award” given to him by Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy.
And next week I may post about an event at my college this week: a retrospective about a perfect storm of LGBT activism that took place on campus a year ago. Unless something else turns up between now and then.
(Now that I’ve gotten audio working again on my computer (h/t Elisa!) I hope to have more to post about music soon…)
For a couple months now, a little group of people have been meeting biweekly under the name Humanist Small Group. It was started by a classicist and teaching fellow (I believe is his position) at Harvard who wanted regular fellowship with like-minded folks, more than was facilitated by the social events the Harvard humanist community hosts once a month or so.
Rick Heller has chronicled the last two meetings, the latter of which was this Saturday. As you can see, we covered a lot of standard ground, and more unexpectedly virtue ethics came up at a few points. As it did earlier this month when I stopped by the University of Chicago and sat in on a seminar by Deirdre McCloskey on virtue ethics, Christianity and capitalism. (Guess there’s more than one way to do it.)
I find all humanist/etc. groups to be fraught with theoretical difficulties. For example: Is any group labeled “humanist” a protest group against religion? If not, why does it exist? If so (and surely it is, if only to a very small degree), to what degree should religion and irreligion be a focus of conversation? But refreshingly, these have not seriously affected the actual meetings, and perhaps exist merely in my head.
A related issue that did come up, at the end, was the suggestion that the “humanist movement,” being full of individualistic, highly opinionated people, may never become unified and cohesive enough to be a real force in society. I made the suggestion that, perhaps, but perhaps there is room for more specialized groups within the wider movement. And of course there is Sam Harris’s suggestion that there be no movement at all.
So on Easter Sunday I moved from Seedpod Co-op to a friend’s house in Cambridge near Central Square.
Settling into the room for the first time tonight.* Although instead of unpacking, I’m mostly writing emails and blog posts.
To end on a positive note, first a few reasons I’m sad to have left Seedpod.
And a few random reasons I’m happy to live on Laurel St.:
(No, that’s not my house pictured, it’s just some random photo from St. Louis “Hotness Confirmed” Missouri.)
*I haven’t unpacked since then because I’ve been doing a freelance book design project, which I think might be my last. I loooove me some typography, but I find it a bit unsatisfying as paid work. I need a lot of time to really suss out creative ideas, and that’s difficult with commercial projects that have, you know, deadlines. And it’s perhaps inherently frustrating as art because you can’t easily be creative without distracting the reader from the words themselves, which results in a constant battle to be normal without being boring. I’m happy I once got to set a book with Sauna however.
**Because Dorchester is so huge, it’s divided up into multiple other neighborhoods, so should the whole thing really be called a “neighborhood”? It’s more like a borough. Except we don’t have boroughs.