Showing posts from August, 2013

The Great Lakes Atheist Conference, Tornado Survivor Rebecca Vitsmun, and the Wonderful Barbara Williams

On the weekend of August 15-18, I participated in the first Great Lakes Atheist Convention in Toledo, Ohio, put on by the organization of that name, which is run by its founder Barbara Williams.Speakers flew in from all across the country and their presentations, one after the other, were all very impressive and important to hear.I’d suspected that I’d be uninterested in most of the talks, and I was happily wrong.They were terrific, and I learned much.They included Rachel Johnson explaining how atheists should view sex, J.T. Eberhard with a slide show explaining how to respond to believers in debates, Edwin Kagin (the attorney for American Atheists) describing legal battles to keep religion out of the government, horrifying personal journeys from Darrell Smith (who at one point was a member of Islam), and Bria Crutchfield (who started life as a Jehovah’s Witness), and Jerry DeWitt who has published a book (“Hope After Faith”) about his escape to atheism after a career as a devout fun…

Is It Okay Not To Use Proper English?

Is it okay not to use proper English?  Of course it is if you’re in a situation where you’re just clowning around with your friends, say on Facebook or Twitter.Even the deliberate use of bad English is fine where it’s clear you’re joking and know better.But in any communication where the other person might judge you based on how well you communicate, the misuse of the English language will get you branded as someone who doesn’t understand basic rules of communication.

For an example, take the following Garfield comic strip panel.Read it and tell me what’s wrong with it.

The answer is that it contains a grammatical error.In the final panel the TV voice should have said, “But there’s one fewer cat on the planet!”The rule is to use “fewer” for objects that can be counted (number of cats on the planet) and “less” when an exact count is not possible.So if you want to comment on the amount of salt in a pot of soup you’d say, “We need less salt.”But if you’re talking about the number of carro…

"Who Am I To Judge?" Pope Francis and the Future of Gay Catholicism

The new Pope made major headlines in the past week when he stated that “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”He also seemed to bless the possibility of gay priests as long as they remain chaste, and dismissed the idea of a gay lobby within the Vatican.These are major changes from the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality (and the first use ever by a Pope of the word “gay,” which he said in English).

Under Pope John Paul II the Church produced a pastoral letter on the treatment of homosexual persons in the Church.It was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, eventually to be the next Pope, and because it was released on October 31, 1986 (though dated October 1), it has ever since been called the “Halloween Letter”:
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore…