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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

AHA president visits Houston & other news

Downtown Houston. (cc) @Hella,

Last night I was pleased to meet Roy Speckardt, president of the American Humanist Association. He was visiting to meet some local people who were active in the freethought and Humanist community here in Houston and I was happy to be among them. We talked for a while about what's been going on in the AHA and what's been happening here in Houston. Later we continued the discussion over dinner. Roy is a nice fellow who was eager to share with us AHA's latest projects which include helping local areas get billboards (Houston's will be going up soon), working for the rights of Humanists, and building bridges with other freethought organizations nationally and locally. We also discussed how one sums up 'Humanism' to those who may be unfamiliar with it - issues such as how much detail to go into in a quick summary, and how much we emphasize the non-theistic aspects in comparison to aspects of caring for humanity and our world. I wish I had more time to converse with Roy on the overall direction of the Humanist movement, outreach strategies, and more. However, I did get a chance to tell him about my work, these articles at Examiner, and my website, The Humanist Contemplative. He seemed interested in the issue of exploring contemplative thoughts and practices within a Humanist framework, and I think more communication on this would be interesting. I also got a chance to mention my recent efforts at accumulating a central resource for Humanist blogs and will be following up with him soon on this. All in all, it was a brief but welcome visit we all seemed to enjoy and find productive.

Two other quick items of interest:

The multitalented English actor/writer/director/comedian Stephen Fry has recently won an award for his Humanism and long standing support for gay rights, from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA). Fry was happy to accept the award on behalf of "those who want to stand up and be counted as proud of their sexuality and secularity." My first awareness of Stephen Fry came in his role as Deitrich in the 2005 film V for Vendetta. In that film, he played the role of a television producer who had to keep his sexuality secret in a fascistic future world where homosexuality was one of many forbidden activities. I hadn't realized at the time that he was also involved in the British television series Blackadder, which I have enjoyed. Fry's other involvements are very numerous, and he seems to be a great asset to both Humanism and LGBT rights. Thanks to PinkNews for making me aware of this.

Meanwhile, Susan Campbell at the Hartford Courant has written a very nice article on positive Humanist beliefs and Humanist Chaplain at Harvard Greg Epstein. The piece reminds me of one with a similar message I wrote a few years ago regarding the word believer: I Am A Believer. Campbell's article is eclectic, bringing together everything from the recent Ft. Hood shooting, to religion trends in America, to the founding fathers, and turning the other cheek - and it's short to boot - so I'd recommend it. [LINK: No God Doesn't Mean No Beliefs]

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