Tag Archives: secular humanism

The Dawning of Hope

medium_life-after-god-1458021600When I was young, there was only one place that I grew to enjoy: Church. People made fun of me at school and I was brow beaten and put down at home. The one solace I had was Church. People there treated me like a peer. They seemed to value my input and seemed eager to let me help to shape small parts of how the whole functioned. It was one of the very few places where I felt safe, where I felt at home, and where I commanded some small modicum of respect.

So, as you can imagine, as I began to lose my faith, it felt like my whole life was unraveling. My source of friends, my source of entertainment, my source of standing in the community, and the source of my wife were all tied to the Church. And since the time I left the Church I have clung to my Facebook and Tumblr communities looking for something similar.

In that time I’ve managed to forge some new Internet-based friendships and even a bit of community but it felt like a pale and weak replacement for what I had before. I had lost the feeling I’d had before that I was an important and valuable part of a vibrant community.

My wife will tell you that I don’t do anticipation well. I try not to think about holidays, trips, or special occasions too much or too far in advance. So I was trying to keep my expectations in check when I started listening to Bart Campolo and Ryan J Bell but I felt a small stirring inside. I continued to try keeping those expectations in check when I heard about Sunday Assembly and, especially, the Oasis Network. But I couldn’t help it any longer. Those small, small sparks of possibility began to run away with my imagination.

I began to think that perhaps I could once again be an important part of a vibrant community again. So, I looked for another option and I’ve now been exploring Unitarian Universalism for a few weeks now. It looks like a promising possibility.

Yet, I couldn’t help but tear-up with happiness today when I listened to the latest Life After God podcast. Gretta Vosper, the atheist cleric from Canada, has joined forces with the Oasis Network. Put that together with the growth of both Bart and Ryan’s work and I can’t help but feel a little giddy and excited. Maybe I’m not doomed to be an outlier insurgent barely eeking out a social existence. Maybe the day will come when Sunday Assembly‘s goal of providing a place for fellowship in every town that wants one is met.

I don’t know. It’s still a small and faint hope. But it’s growing much faster than I ever imagined it could. I only hope I can contain myself as I wait for it to reach us here. In the meantime, I’ll explore with enthusiasm Unitarian Universalism and be trying to keep in check that small, small hope that there will come a day when a secular fellowship exists here in the Piedmont.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Is There A Secular Community Out There?

I feel like12711075_807539649356739_1824879046233805348_o I’ve begun to acclimate to the atheist scene online. After spending about a year listening to atheist podcasts and reading atheist blogs I’m ready for something more positive. I understand some of you are anti-theists. There are some times when I sympathize a great deal with the viewpoint. However, it feels like it’s time for the secular world to begin moving beyond anger and potshots at religion.

Recently my mind has been sent racing by all of the positive community-building that’s begun to occur. Sunday Assembly, the Oasis Network, Life After God, Bart Campolo, and many more people and groups seem to be taking the first baby steps toward building local secular and humanist communities that are indigenous, uniquely humanistic, and that can compete with churches for doing good works and building social networks.

Local communities and the positive actions they take in the world are what I miss most since leaving religion. I didn’t even realize how much I missed it until I began to hear Bart Campolo on his podcast Humanize Me and Ryan Bell with Life After God talk about secular values and about building community. Suddenly I remembered that it was community and good works that first drew me and others to religion.

I recently began to realize that I’ve always been looking for a way to better humanity. I got lost in Christianity for a really long time trying to make it all work but, in the end, that’s why we want it to work: to be a community that cares for one another and reaches out to those both in our group and around our geographic areas.

And even as I’ve been excited to see Sunday Assemblies cropping up around the South, I’ve been disappointed and disheartened that no such group seems to be able to form here in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. A group has been trying to organize a Sunday Assembly for the past couple years in Winston-Salem but it seems that there just is not enough support to launch something so ambitious.

I am feeling so pumped lately about all the positive stuff going on in the secular world. It’s beginning to really feel like humanism is growing but, just like the weather fronts, it seems to flow all around us and skip this area completely. So I would like to make a request for anyone who is either in the Piedmont Triad or knows someone in this area who’s tired of just knocking religion and, instead, wants to try to grow a local community of humanists that works for positive change to contact me so that, even if we are less than a dozen and even if we’re less than a half dozen, we can at least begin the hard work of creating something locally indigenous, uniquely humanist, and focused on building community.

I know you’re out there. There are thriving secular communities in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington. Surely some people like that must be here as well. And, if I have somehow missed a group of you who are already doing this, please let me know! I’d love to become a part of the secular community here and I don’t care who starts it, gets credit for it, gets to
be the leader, or anything else. I just want to begin the work that is so evidently needed.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized