Posts Tagged ‘jerry dewitt’

Can You Give Me a DarWIN!

Posted in religion on June 12th, 2013 by Jim Newman – Comments Off

dewittJerry DeWitt was resurrected by relationships and received a book deal (Hope After Faith) the day his house was to be auctioned. Last year I talked to to Jerry several times hoping to do an interview and was stymied by circumstance. What struck me about him was first his sincerity. The second was the depth of his persistence. Though still sliding into debt myself I was ready to send hime money straight from the wallet. Losing job, family, and community is either sheer madness or insistence towards integrity, or maybe both.

In this video of his Easter Sunday Morning talk DeWitt speaks of how we all can rise from difficult times to better times without magic. He speaks of the individuality of effort. Some offend, some bring love to the relationship. roughly, “An ounce of love is stronger than any resurrection.” He adds:

“Take the entire Bible, multiply it by a million, and it does not carry the weight of one single smile.”

He has the audience rise and ordinates them all as ministers of loving atheism. DeWitt is a preacher. It is not an act. As he gets more comfortable with his new community he shines more. When I see how the audience responds to him it is clear that many people are hungry for great speakers, great motivators, great characters of integrity that inspire to go along with them.

Some see him as parodying the preacher but I do not. This is the real DeWitt. Perhaps it is the substituting of DarWIN for Amen; “Can I get a DarWIN.” to punctuate the intensity of his remarks, which includes the audience as much as the standing and shaking of neighbor’s hands. Perhaps it is the style of the talk. Thunderous, deep, and impassioned–unreasonable. Immersed in the intimate alienation of print, text, and screen we humans still yearn for a great talk that moves us with reason and passion.

This puts me in an odd place. Speaking to the heart is gibberish but ubiquitous. Substituting one religion for another, irreligion, is still religion. What is true, in spite of the vernacular, are social institutions have certain things in common. Further, while some of us are grateful not to have to listen to a sermon others not only miss them but cheer them on when they witness them, morphed into something more palatable.

Those who have left religion understand the many double entendres and find comfort in both the embracement and mocking of them. It becomes a bridge from the comfort to the adventure. Perhaps it is a sensibility reflecting how one left one’s religion. Did you leave because of anger, fear, and bad circumstances in which case even the smell of a church organ angers or did you leave by way of reason and regret by which you still miss the familiarity of the spectacle?

DeWItt will be delivering what is claimed as Louisiana’s first secular sermon.

In the south we have a long standing tradition of culture and family and food. Our ancestors relied on various forms of super-naturalism to cope with everyday aspects of life. The United States has had various periods of semi-enlightenment, but they’ve all given way to the community built within religious constraints.

Our mission is to gather community while promoting a foundation of hope, trust, and love thus bridging tolerance through common secular values. We will bring the excitement into the hearts of freethinkers without exposing them to any supernatural aspects. We can provide all of the music, merriment, and ministry to our passionate growing secular crowd and still have it devoid of supernatural praise.

Think about those days when you went to church. How the preacher spoke passionately, so passionately that it resonated within your heart. At times it would often seem like he was speaking directly to you. No matter what his train of thought was, when he gave you the message you found a personal meaning. Think of how uplifting it was to not only hear, but feel the words.

We are not asking you to commit yourself to a church, or an idea, or even an ideology. We just wish that you come and join us and help us rejoice in simply being. You may find that this is something that helps you to analyze normal day to day activities that cause stress and deal with them in a secular way. This can be the answer to the lack of community within the secular movement.

We are glad you made it this far and look forward to seeing you on Sunday for Louisiana’s first completely secular service.

When I first heard Jerry this idea of a secular service immediately came to me as right for him. I wonder though. I guess it’s like therapy in education, restorative justice, where in some ways it doesn’t make sense but in others it is important to do it.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

Conversion, Pastors To Atheists

Posted in atheists on April 9th, 2012 by Jim Newman – 6 Comments

Post by Jim Neweman

————————–

Christian News sites are having a field day with Patrick Greene’s conversion to Christianity.

Patrick Greene was an outspoken atheist until recently, when the generosity of a few Christians caused him to reconsider his beliefs. He now says he is a Christian.

Why don’t we ever get mass publication of Christians converting to Atheists? Perhaps, the media, including the so called liberal media is so religiously accepting of religion as to make these stories excluded.

Where’s the big news on Jerry DeWitt, the man with a voice that could call to Mars, who left his church?

Better still his coming out talk at the AA convention.

What about Richard Haynes, who once led a 12,000 member megachurch and quit to start Atheist Nexus International?

What about Teresa McBain and Michael Aus who both came out last month.

MSNBC had a blip on Aus:

Why don’t we hear how 1 in 6 Dutch clergy are atheists or agnostics?

Why are there no big news stories about the Clergy Project which supports pastors, ministers, and priests trying to leave their faith? My apologist brother-in-law seems fascinated, as a psychologist, with conversion stories to religion but never sends me stories of pastors leaving their fantasy-land mythologies. I find it  more interesting how people seek the truth. That’s what is cool. That is what will allow humanity to go forward.

What about news from Recovering From Religion? Are we to believe the news is liberal. It’s just more crap reframing from the right.

What about Nate Phelps who had to basically disown his crazy father and leave at 18?

The following from the Reason Rally.

Francis Collins converts to religion because he sees a waterfall and he doesn’t know what to tell a dieing woman. How is that a life motivating force? Maybe he did want to join a group, but it’s a group where one can succeed materially. What about the courageous ones who leave success because the truth burns through the lies revealing greater ability to meaning?

Cheap and easy conversion stories are no match for the drama of those who leave with bravery.

Losing one’s religion can often mean losing one’s family, friends, community, and social network. This risk can be especially great for those still active in their religious communities: one often can’t open up to those who are closest to them for fear of misunderstanding, overreaction, and outright rejection.

We hear about some nut guy, Greene, in Henderson, Texas who had been raised religious, who then after an act of kindness and becoming blind discovers faith again. But, he claims, there is no connection between the charity and his new disability to his faith and he totally respects his atheist wife.

But, we don’t hear about these professional preachers who after long and successful careers, and sometimes years of difficulty, agony, and tenacious loyalty come to reason and see how their faith caused great harm.

Now riddled with guilt even, sadly, at having lied to their members, lied to the world, and lied to themselves they struggle to find peace and success in a secular future. No, we want some cheesy story about some prodigal religious nitwit returning to the fold because strangers gave him $400 and that proved humans are different than animals in some super special way.

Jonathon Haidt and Chris Mooney were patting themselves on the back on a recent, March 19, Point of Inquiry episode, where they gloat how the new theists are so wrong to spend any time disproving religious idiocy. That truth is just irrelevant in group activities. Haidt makes sociology as sacred, groups as churches, and ideology as religious. It’s all about being in the group or not. He’s backed off that conservatives have any than a bit elevated disgust ability but is full on that social people are more spiritual than material (bright boy individualists probably have Asperger’s)—that, in politics, people are driven more by group think than individual expression–isn’t that the point of politics, to reduce a plethora of views to an agreed consensus or at least majority to a law?

Hmmm, why bother then with truth? Oh yeah, I forgot, if I don’t check the oil in my car it seizes when it runs too low. Or, if I don’t get the evidence I might put the wrong person in prison. Or if I make meat for my vegetarian daughter she won’t eat it period. Regardless of biases and prejudices and the leveling and cascade effects of politics, Haidt is feeding into conservative frenzy by convincing moderates to not rock the boat too much because it might upset others and entrench rather than coalesce.

I understand peacekeeping and political alliance and even rhetoric towards agreement rather than position but at some point, and for liberals, it is already difficult position to activate. We must come together in a social group as strong as one put forth by conservatives or lose politically and absolutely. Whether for religious, spiritual, sociological, or material reasons, religious fundamentalist along with accommodationists, apologists, and moderates will take the rights of others away. They are willing to revoke long held bill of rights’ freedoms for their ideology, philosophy, religion, world view, or memmissue (collection of memes into ideological or functional group).

Groups are stronger. That is all that has been proven, The bigger the group, the  more clout. The sad instantiation of power in numbers is the bottom line. Even a bill of rights, a long held constitution can be raped and pillaged by the power of  people willing to assert their cause.

Attacking freedom through issues of body searches, sexual rights, and bodily rights is a terrifying, debilitating torture stripping people of the will to resist because they know they no longer even own themselves. The Supreme Court 5 should be fired. If that is extreme so be it.

Every time FOX news bullshits it should called. Every time Rick Warren pukes his brains out he should be called on it. Every time a gay politician denies gay rights they should be called on it Accepting lies and damned lies because we want to get along is a neopostmodern nightmare. Using ants, as EO Wilson does, to encourage mass communion to singularity is perspicacious in its effectiveness and dehumanizing in its rights to the individual body and independence of thought.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.brightpride.com and www.frontiersofreason.com