Brief Reason Rally Thoughts

Brief Reason Rally Thoughts
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A view of the Washington Monument and some fellow ralliers on their way to the Lincoln Memorial. Note the verse on the t-shirt.

The walk to the Rally from our hotel was long, but fun. Ed and I were wearing our “LouAville Atheists and Freethinkers” shirts which got a lot of notice and comments and also signaled to all the other rally people to where we were going. We had some good company and interesting scenery on the way, including a pass right by the Washington Monument. I’d seen it from a distance before, but never so close up.
We arrived at the Rally at about 10:30am, about 1/2 hour after the official start time. Once we got there, we found a nice grassy shady spot under the trees alongside the reflecting pool and settled in. We were far enough from the stage to just barely be able to see what was being projected on the large screens, but we had no problem hearing everything as long as the sound system didn’t glitch.
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Bill Nye is addressing the Reason Rally crowd about the need to take climate change seriously.

There were several speakers at the Reason Rally that I had not heard of before, which was fine for me since I’ve been to enough conventions that I’ve heard many of the well-known speakers many times before. It was good to hear fresh voices. One of my favorite talks was the guy from Hollywood Squares, John Davidson. (Yea, I had to look up his name since before the rally I had not heard of him.) He talked about how he’d been an atheist though much of his career, but spent most of that time hiding that fact. He talked about how he’d turned down a gig once because the sponsors wanted him to either pray or sing a gospel tune at the end of it — though he didn’t tell them why he backed out. It was very interesting to me to hear the ways that being a closeted atheist had affected his life and his career. It was only fairly recently that he came out as part of the Openly Secular project.

Another top moment for me was when Penn Jillette did a duet with the singer who had been berated for being an atheist on Ecuador’s Got Talent. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen the video, Google “atheist on Ecuador’s Got Talent. She shows some amazing composure and courage though the whole ordeal.)
And I loved yelling “ATHEIST!” with about 15,000 other people during Dave SIlverman’s talk, too.  🙂
I was at the Reason Rally in 2012 so I can’t help but make a few comparisons. The 2012 rally had a more tightly packed crowd, and more of a “We’re here, we’re atheists, get used to it!” type of feel. More like what I’d expect of a rally. The 2016 Rally had a bit more of a toned down feel which was more like “We’re here, we’re atheists, now how do we make the world a better place?” vibe. There was a large crowd, but it was spread out — especially at our distance from the stage — and we were able to sit on our blanket on the banked area and still see the stage. This time I am a mom, and I welcome the more “family friendly” aspect of the rally. As the movement matures it becomes not only about knocking religion off its pedestal (though that aspect is not going away) but also about the scientific and humanistic concerns like social equality and climate change. I think this is a good thing, and a sign that the moment is maturing. After all, atheism is only about the a rejection of the claims of theism, but atheists — real flesh and blood atheists — have concerns that go well beyond that.
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Fan of Reason in one hand, and Sonic Screwdriver in the other. That’s my girl!

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2012 Reflections

2012 Reflections

I have a short memory. I usually roll along in the moment, taking in questions, problems, and ideas as they come to me. More than once in the past few weeks I have had a conversation with a friend or coworker, only to have them come back to continue the conversation after a pause of a few minutes, but my mind has already moved on to something else. What were we talking about? I’m not sure if this is a symptom of our fast-paced short-attention-span society or if it’s just how my mind works anyway.

So, with that in mind I thought it would be a good idea to take a good look at what happened in 2012, so as not to rush headlong into 2013 without pausing for a moment’s reflection. After taking some time to brainstorm and look though my old posts, here is a summary of what happened in my life over the past year in rough chronological order.

Lasik – January

This time last year, I was preparing to go under the laser in early January. I have been dependent on glasses for all daily activities that require sight since I was about eight years old, and I got tired of it. In late 2010 I decided to ask my optometrist about the possibility of getting Lasik surgery, and that got the ball rolling. After a few months my vision finally stabilized. My eyes are no longer dry, and I will be going to the optometrist for my one-year Lasik checkup in about a month. I have loved living without relying on glasses!

You can read about my Lasik experiences here: Tag Archives: Lasik

Reason Rally – March

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In March I had the great pleasure of attending the Reason Rally, the largest gathering of atheists and non-religious people ever. And it was a blast! Even after going to atheist conferences and been quite used to having atheist company for years, it was quite a wonderful experience to be surrounded by such a sea of secularism. For more about the Reason Rally, check out The Reason Rally: No Fair-weather Atheists Here!

Reasonable Living – March

Starting in March, a former Baptist teacher/minister who has been a member of the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers for some time now started a Sunday morning group to discuss Humanist ethics, values, and how to live the good secular life. Since then, this group has been a regular part of my life, and it deserves a mention in the top events of my life in 2012. You can read more about Reasonable Living here: Reasonable Living and Intentional Community.

Women in Secularism Conference – May

In May I got to attend the Women in Secularism Conference, which was also my first conference with the Center for Inquiry. This was a unique conference to discuss the contributions and roles of women in the secular movement. I wrote about my experiences and ideas from this conference in Ideas from the Women in Secularism Conference.

Doctor Who – May

I started watching Doctor Who in May. Actually, I was watching The Empty Child from season 1 on the airplane home from the Women in Secularism Conference, and that was the episode (along with The Doctor Dances) that got me hooked. Thanks to Doctor Who and Tumblr, I have learned such concepts as “fandom” and “cosplay.” I have TARDIS Christmas tree lights, and my stepkids got my a cardboard standup TARDIS for Christmas. Yep, I am having a lot of fun with this.

Marriage on my Birthday – June

In June, one of my husband’s older sons got married, and on the same day as my birthday, too. It wasn’t planned that way, but it was a great party. 🙂

Kentucky Freethought Convention – October

In October, I got to help out with the planning and execution of the first ever Kentucky Freethought Convention which was a great success!  You can view the presentation videos on Vimeo, and read about it at Kentucky Freethought Convention Wrapup.

I bought a car! – October

In October, I bought my first new car! It’s a Subaru Outback, and I am very pleased with it. 🙂

Skepticon V – November

Ed and I attended Skepticon in Springfield, MO for the second year in a row this year. Skepticon is always a great time! You can read all about it at Skepticon 5: Science, Atheism, and Doctor Who?

The world didn’t end! – December

Despite all the doomsday prophecies, the world did not end on December 21, 2012. Still we had a great End of the World/Holiday Party at my place on the Winter Solstice.

Now, on to 2013! 

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The Reason Rally: No Fair-weather Atheists Here!

The Reason Rally: No Fair-weather Atheists Here!

Despite the cool temperatures and intermittent rain, a crowd numbering from 20,000-25,000 gathered on the National Mall to celebrate reason, science, and godlessness. And I was very pleased and proud to be there among them.

My husband and I at the Reason Rally.

It was quite an experience to be at the largest freethought gathering of all time, and I can only imagine what it was like for those who had never come to an atheist gathering. The first time I met another person that I could speak with about atheism, I was thrilled beyond belief. Walking into a room with a few hundred atheists at my first American Atheists convention three years ago was like a dream. But this was an experience beyond all of that.

The speakers were of a variety from scientists and professors like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers to singers like Shelly Segal and comedians like Eddie Izzard and Tim Minchin. This was a Rally for Reason, but not a dry intellectual unfeeling type of reason. It marks a landmark in a trend I have seen in the atheist movement. We are continuing to move beyond the intellectual halls and into the experience of everyday life. This movement is about reason and intellectualism, but also about community and life and emotion. The life of reason includes all of these things too. This is the “New Atheism.”

Bad Religion rocking the Reason Rally

You can find more information about the Reason Rally, and pictures of the speakers, performers, and massive crowd at ReasonRally.org.

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See you at the Reason Rally!

See you at the Reason Rally!

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It is now only two weeks until the Reason Rally, and I am getting excited. At last year’s American Atheist convention, when Dave Silverman first announced the big plans, it seemed like the day would never arrive. One of my favorite things about this rally is that it is a movement rally, not just an event for a single organization. In fact, every major freethought and atheist organization is participating in this event. Given the rocky history among some of the atheist organizations in the past, this really is a big deal. The putting aside of differences and focusing on common goals is vital to show how many of us there really are in favor of the Separation of Church and State and rights for the non-religious. We are no longer scattered to and fro, separated from one another and keeping a low and silent profile to avoid being marked by the prejudices of religious friends, family, and employers. Yes, many people still face that situation, but it is changing. We are coming together and showing our numbers and will no longer tolerate being merely tolerated at the will of a religious majority.

Especially after the record-breaking turnout to the American Atheists convention last year, I am looking forward to seeing how many secular Americans come to the Reason Rally!

For more information on the Reason Rally including speakers, musical acts, and information on ride shares, please visit http://www.ReasonRally.org.

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