Sunday, July 10, 2011

It Gets Besser

Pretty incredible. Even though I grew up Modern Orthodox, I found myself feeling a visceral sense of freedom when I saw the "after" pictures. Before, their lives and appearances were chosen for them. After, they chose for themselves.

(HT: Failed Messiah. Apparently "besser" means "better" in Yiddish.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

High School Kid Kicked Out of House, Threatened for Opposing Graduation Prayer at Public School

This story's been going around the atheist blogosphere and reddit for a while:

High School Student Stands Up Against Prayer at Public School and Is Ostracized, Demeaned and Threatened

Damon Fowler, an atheist student at Bastrop High School in Louisiana, was about to graduate. His public school was planning to have a prayer as part of the graduation ceremony: as they traditionally did, as so many public schools around the country do every year. But Fowler -- knowing that government-sponsored prayer in the public schools is unconstitutional and legally forbidden -- contacted the school superintendent to let him know that he opposed the prayer, and would be contacting the ACLU if it happened. The school -- at first, anyway -- agreed, and canceled the prayer.

Then Fowler's name, and his role in this incident, was leaked. As a direct result:

1) Fowler has been hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community.

2) One of Fowler's teachers has publicly demeaned him.

3) Fowler has been physically threatened. Students have threatened to "jump him" at graduation practice, and he has received multiple threats of bodily harm, and even death threats.

4) Fowler's parents have cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and thrown his belongings onto the front porch.

Oh, and by the way? They went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway.

Bunch of small-minded bullies.

In good news, Damon has become something of a hero in the atheist world, he has a supportive older brother, and atheists around the country have so far donated almost $30,000 to give him a scholarship for college.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interesting Interview with Michael Jenkins of Footsteps

Footsteps is a unique organization. Founded by Malkie Schwartz in 2003 to assist former Charedim in exploring the world beyond their former insular communities, Footsteps is part social club, part therapy-house, part educational laboratory. Members gather for a bite to eat from its well-stocked pantries, to read the latest issue of the New Yorker, or simply pop in at the end of a day’s work or schooling to meet with others of like mind, to “hang out,” to laugh over the latest absurdities in their lives, past and present. They also come for more formal discussions: free-flowing drop-in groups, dating and sex talk, and educational lectures. They might stay for five minutes or five hours. And Michael Jenkins is always there to greet them with his easy cheer.

Along with Executive Director Lani Santo, social worker Alix Newpol, and a dedicated group of volunteers, Michael organizes the organization’s programs, facilitates many of the discussion groups, and provides members with one-on-one counseling.

The interview. Unpious, by the way, has some of the best writing I've seen from formerly Orthodox people.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Matt Dillahunty on How He Became an Atheist and More

I thought this was pretty good. By Matt Dillahunty, president of the Atheist Community of Austin and host of the Austin Public-access television cable TV show and podcast The Atheist Experience.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A New Term for Intellectual Dishonesty

Secular Knowledge Integration Strategy

How Would You Describe Your Secular Knowledge Integration Strategy?

a) I discard or ignore most secular knowledge

b) I accept most secular knowledge and only discard that which blatantly contradicts Torah

c) I carefully sift secular knowledge to see if it is truly consistent with Torah

d) Other

This is not a parody. It's from a group blog for baalei teshuva -- people who have become Orthodox Jews as opposed to having been born into it.