Monthly Archives: December 2011
Have you ever wondered how much money Christians spend on all their church buildings, advertisements, schools, etc.? Where does it all come from? Simply put, they have strength in numbers. And those numbers donate en masse. The Bible tells them to do it. (Amos 4:4 “. . .bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days.”) Almost all church services involve passing the plate and for some reason people feel good about giving their hard earned money to perpetuate a myth. We have strength in numbers, too. And as your Treasurer, I have the distinct privilege of passing the plate for CNCAH.
As good critical thinkers, you want to know what the money is used for, right? Our biggest expense last year, by far, was the Rapture Party. We raised over $6,000 in cash and non-cash donations for that exciting event. However, outside of the Rapture Party, our expenses were rather modest last year. We spent about $150 for our MeetUp site and another $100 in miscellaneous expenses such as our display banner and bank fees. But since we eliminated annual dues, we rely solely on donations to keep the group running.
In 2012 we are participating in the Carolinas Secular Association’s speaker tours to host nationally recognized personas in Fayetteville. In doing so, we must pay for the travel and lodging costs of guest speakers such as Fred Edword, Director of the United Coalition of Reason, coming in February. In addition, we are running a booth at the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival (cost = $125) to increase awareness of Humanism and our organization. No doubt, there will be more opportunities throughout the year for us to participate. And the more money we raise, the more we can do.
CNCAH is an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization. So, in these final days of the tax year, I ask each of you to make a donation and show your support to CNCAH. For those of you who have been unable to come out to our many meetings and social events, this is a great opportunity to contribute. We have over 60 members. With a $5 or $10 donation from every member, we will bring another year of Humanism to Fayetteville. Simply click DONATE on the menu above and make a donation. A receipt will be emailed to you upon completion.
Thank you and have a happy Humanist New Year full of reason, compassion, and hope!
The passing of Christopher Hitchens, at the far too early age of sixty two, leaves an empty chair at the dinner table of life which no one will ever be able to completely fill. As we mourn his passing it is vital that we remember the spirit in which he lived. He would not have enjoyed our wishes to rest in peace as much as he would our resolve to honor his memory by living in action. Hitchens has been described as a ferocious Humanist, and this was expressed daily, and until the very end, in his eloquent and incisive writings, his devastating debating skills and his ceaseless exuberance for the sheer act of living. His life exemplified the best Humanist values: the lifelong quest for knowledge, the powerful belief that only action brings change, a deep concern for global justice and a genuine understanding that our time is gloriously finite. If every life can be compared to a painting his is now complete and stands among the brightest in the gallery of history, crafted in bold, vivid and striking color.
Christopher Hitchens knew his work caused controversy, and that he was often at odds with the majority on powerfully emotive issues. Among these was his outspoken and withering criticism of the poisonous violence, and terrible legacy of harm and repression, he found in organized religion. A constant traveler he saw the damage done in the name of faith and dogma everywhere, and how this far outweighed any small good that may have come from these institutions. His bravery was to call out evils, injustices and hypocrisy where he found them. No cow was too sacred to escape his eye and his withering pen. His genius was to discomfort the hypocritical by forcing them to turn their gaze inward.
He was from childhood a confirmed and proud atheist. He examined the evidence and argument for the supernatural and it simply did not stand the smallest scrutiny. For Hitchens it was critical to put the considered and established facts above any need we may have for false comfort in mythology. This is a position we should all have the self respect to embrace.
Many expected Hitchens to succumb to a deathbed conversion. The religious community hoped to bask in smug self-superiority at any hypocrisy spoken in the dying breath of one of their greatest and most powerful critics. He did not give them that satisfaction. He faced death with pragmatism, great humor, strong character and realism. I hope, when the inevitable time comes to face the end, I leave life with such flourish.
As Humanists, exemplified by great men like Christopher Hitchens, we embrace a complete mortality. The truest glory is in living fully the best of lives each hour we have. Every moment we should strive to make our own the greatest story ever told, and in doing so enrich the lives of others. The life and work of Hitch enriched mine enormously and he lives on as long as he is read, remembered and admired.
In January the Wilmington Humanists and Freethinkers will hold an evening of remembering with readings and film from his life. His brief candle burned with a marvelous brilliance and, as a fellow Humanist and an Atheist, I am proud to stand in its light. The pen may have ceased moving, but the words remain forever, and this world is better for them. Thank you Chris for some true inspiration.
Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
CNCAH and MASH joined ranks this weekend as we shot for the stars with a double hitter in astronomy. On Friday 9 Dec 11, we met at Lake Rim Park to “Howl at the Moon” with Ranger Mike. That evening, the moon was at its perigee or closest approach in its elliptical orbit around the Earth. This event makes for spectacular viewing of the moon’s feature unless, of course, it’s cloudy like it was for most of the evening. Undaunted by the hazy cover obscuring the moon, Ranger Mike taught everyone about the environment on the moon, how craters are made, and how to identify many of the features of our only natural satellite. But the best part of the evening was when kids got to make their own craters by throwing different size balls into a pan of flour to simulate the effect of meteors striking the moon. To finish the evening, amateur astronomers, young and old, peered through the thin veil of clouds with a variety of optics from binoculars to Newtonian reflector telescopes to see our closest astronomical neighbor.
To round out the astronomical weekend, we met at the Robeson County Planetarium where director and science teacher, Ken Brandt, hosted a presentation on the winter solstice and how different cultures and religions use this time of year to celebrate. The solstice presentation included an excellent exercise in critical thinking to examine different astronomical myths such as the star that guided the three wise men to Jesus’ cradle. For those who came early, the Robeson Planetarium also contains a science center full of nature’s wonders and hands on science displays. Ken hosts similar programs for the public one Saturday each month. He is also a member MAGMA, the local rock collecting group, as well as the Sandhills Astronomical Society which meets at the observatory on the campus of Fayetteville State University. Look for future meetups with these two organizations.
By Tom Miles
GENEVA | Fri Dec 9, 2011 2:14pm EST
(Reuters) – Atheist bloggers have shown their charitable side by swarming to donate money to Doctors Without Borders, in what turned into the humanitarian agency’s biggest online fundraiser.
Doctors without Borders (DWB), also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, gets about 4,000 hits on its U.S. website on an average Sunday. Last Sunday that number ballooned to 50,000 as a horde of redditors, subscribers to the social media site reddit.com, thundered across the DWB homepage.
Thousands more clicked through from the atheism sub-reddit, a site normally given over to finding holes in religions and picking fights with creationists, and headed for a dedicated site at firstgiving.com, where they have so far given $180,000.
“It’s amazing, what’s going on. The amount being raised is amazing, definitely,” said Natalie Favre, an MSF spokeswoman in Geneva. “We don’t control any of this.”
Many donations were tagged with messages such as “Because god won’t,” “Good without god” or even “Good without Zeus.”
“I WAS gonna buy some Taco Bell… but screw it,” wrote DJW3NCH, who donated $5.00 via firstgiving.com.
Reddit’s atheist page, www.reddit.com/r/atheism, boasts more than 300,000 subscribers while the Christianity page has 20,000.
One atheist reached across the divide to ask what the Christians thought about the donation campaign. A redditor calling himself Duke_Newcombe replied: “What do I think? Praise God. And thank you, r/atheism.”
Reddit is owned by Conde Nast, better known as the publisher of Wired, Vogue and GQ. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, it thrives on anonymity, fostering a creative chaos which is divided up into “subreddits” and largely self-policing thanks to guidelines known as “reddiquette” and the desire to collect “karma,” the points earned and lost from upvotes and downvotes.
A similar reddit drive raised about $50,000 last year. This year, donations picked up as many redditors promised a few cents for every upvote they got, and then sought to outdo each other by upping the cash value or matching what others gave.
Jennifer Tierney, who is in charge of fundraising at DWB, said the money from reddit was not earmarked for any particular project and could be used for any of DWB’s work, which this year included fighting cholera in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo and responding to emergencies in Libya and Ivory Coast.
A big priority will be to fill the gap left by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is cutting grants because of economic problems faced by donor countries.
DWB normally gets a few million dollars a year from about 250-300 third party fundraising events, anything from reddit to a child selling home-made lemonade on the street corner. Reddit has contributed about 10 percent of that total in a few days.
“Things are looking good. Our donors have been really, really loyal to us, which is wonderful. I know it’s tough for people out there and it’s great that they’re continuing to support us,” said Tierney. “This is very good example of how the communities online can get together and make a huge difference.”
Although it welcomes the windfall from reddit, DWB is aware of the dangers of expecting the reddit atheists to donate every year, and it is not planning to chase them for money.
“We’re not doing a heavy push on fundraising. We’re really not trying to overwhelm people that way,” said Tierney. “I think the most important thing on social media is you engage people and they get to know you. It’s a great space for that, and try not to use it to force a donation. It doesn’t work that way.”
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Myra MacDonald)