Friday, January 01, 2016

The 2015 Year in Secular Perspective Blogs

by Gary Berg-Cross

2015 was a diverse year with many issues, some ups and more seemingly downward trends.  In between, as they say there were some learning situations and perhaps some insights. On this Secular Perspective site we had range of topics posted which offers its own perspective.  In case you missed it here are some of the top ones from our volunteer posters. Edd Doerr, president of Americans for Religious Liberty, provided the first 6 or so on some of his favorite issues.

10. Aborting Aristotle  Edd Doerr’s review of a book by  Dave Sterrett had over 200 readers.  He found it an “odd little opus” with an “ anti-abortion screed extruded by an evangelical publisher and concocted by a youngish Southern Evangelical Seminary grad who evidently dwells in a rickety Ivory Tower somewhere in the Twilight Zone beyond Cloud Nine.”
9. Edd Doerr  also had A brief comment on "Zombies of 2016"
Based on Paul Krugman’s column in the April 24 NY Times, that  choped up Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and other Repubs who would like to infest the White House.

Freedom of speech, press, assembly and petition, like religious freedom  and church-state  separation, were/are intended to be protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution. However, in 1798, less than a decade after the Bill of Rights was adopted, the Federalist controlled Congress and President John Adams enacted the Sedition Act, which was immediately used to prosecute/persecute the slightest printed or spoken utterance that annoyed the Federalist establishment.

7. Edd published several on vouchers including, “The unpopularity of vouchers” which discussed the DC situation with the Congress and the Obama administration on the wrong side of the issue.   “Despite the council’s objections, Congress seems determined to continue D.C. school vouchers

6. School Choice Works, Privatization Won't noted the importance of knowing  where the candidates stand on important issues like improving public education.

5. Edd’s Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? Had over 300 readings and give a 5 star rating to a book by Mercedes K. Schneideron the controversial “Common Core State Standards” system.  The “Core” was largely pushed by big-money entrepreneurs and so-called “reformers” with little actual connection to teaching, including such conservative school-voucher-promoting outfits as the Fordham Institute.

4. I authored the next three mostly popular starting with the seasonal Channeling  Robert Ingersoll for Thanksgiving which had over 300 views.  It excerpted Robert Ingersoll’s 1897 , “Thanksgiving Sermon.” Turning from the divine he instead asked who should be thanked.  He found real groups of people - scientists, artists, statesmen, mothers, fathers, poets in contrast to religious organizations and their operatives.. He found plenty of things to be thankful for starting with the long rise from savagery to civilization.  
3. The trouble with Hanukkah? Had over 600 views since it was posted in Dec. based on a fact finding article on the Jewish Holiday.  The blog’s title is based on Tom Flynn’s more famous take on that bigger winter holiday in The Trouble with Christmas.

2. Also seasonally popular (>800 views) was my Sustained Seasonal Symbolic Struggles noting various symbolic struggles over words and associated values.
 such as Italian parents who were reportedly furious when a school canceled the "Christmas" concert with a winter recital.

1.  By far our most popular blog was by Matt Goldstein whose recent Can leftism be saved from Jeff Sparrow?  Had over 1000 views since published on Dec. 6th. Matt notes that the Guardian newspaper’s Jeff Sparrow has been on the attack against New Atheism for some time. Matt rebuts Jeff’s latest salvo We Can Save Atheism From the New Atheists which begins with the question "Why are the New Atheists such jerks?". The provided explanation for the New Atheist's "dickishness" is "anti-Muslim bigotry" and "paranoid, racist shit". Matt sides with Chris Hitchens & Sam Harris’ idea that, "All religions are bad but some religions – especially those in the Middle East, by sheer coincidence! – are worse than others." 
Matt proposes that “What we really need is to save liberalism from bigoted regressive leftist dickish know-it-all jerks like Jeff Sparrow.

Happy New year all, from one of the editors of Secular Perspectives.

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