Back in August I was invited to join Don McLenaghen on Radio Freethinker, the skeptical podcast of CiTR radio (the UBC radio station). Ethan was away that week, so we spent the entire hour talking about Humanism.
Last week, I took a road trip to Edmonton, via Kamloops.
While in Kamloops I dropped by a meeting of the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought and gave a (somewhat impromptu) short speech on Humanism before going into an extended discussion. I posted my brief presentation on YouTube:
Then, in Edmonton I gave my speech on communicating evidence for the Big Bang, entitled 13.7 Billion Years in 90 Seconds for my old group, the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics.
The Challenge started two years ago among a network of CP associations in Australia. It was so successful that they’ve now essentially franchised the fundraiser to associations in Canada and across the United States.
The premise is very simple and is explained best by their promotional video:
Basically, just get active and promote a healthy lifestyle while raising awareness and money for children and adults living with cerebral palsy. Participants register as teams of 4 for $25/adult or $10/child and track their daily steps through the interactive website. We send everyone a pedometer and have a conversion chart in case you do other activities (running, weights, bocce ball, etc.). The Challenge runs from World CP Day, September 4th, until October 2nd.
For those teams that register here in BC, I’ve scored a few prizes for you:
Every team that enters by August 5th will be entered to win a pack of four tickets to either the August 13th or August 25th Vancovuer Canadians baseball games.
The top individual fundraiser at the start of the Challenge, Sept. 4th, will receive 2 tickets to any 2012 BC Lions (the 2011 Grey Cup Champions) home game.
The person who takes the most steps during the Challenge will win a BC Lions hat, autographed by running back #33 Andrew Harris.
Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that limits movement. It varies from very minor cases (a slight difficulty walking), to severe cases where even eating and breathing are difficult. My brother’s case falls somewhere in the middle. He is unable to walk, but he can talk and play video games just fine.
CP is caused by damage to the brain that occurs during pregnancy, birth, or in the first three years. It’s not degenerative or contagious, but it is a lifelong condition.
The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC describes itself as follows:
The Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia was started in 1954 by a group of parents who wanted to assist their children living with CP to reach their maximum potential within society. Today we are an independent charitable organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. We provide support, education, and information throughour BC. Our Mission is:
to raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy in the community;
to assit those living with Cerebral Palsy to reach their maximum potential; and
to work to see those living with Cerebral Palsy realize their place as equals in a diverse society.
On my last trip to my parent’s house, I grabbed a couple of my old Social Studies 10 essays that I had written. I did quite well in Social Studies and was quite proud of my essays, a belief justified by the marks I tended to get.
This first essay, on the Young Offender’s Act, received a perfect 10/10, but on re-reading it, I am quite disappointed in my fallacious 15-year old mind. First the essay, then my comments.
First, last week my wife won an iPad through The Peak’s iPad a Day in May contest, and then I won one this week. We’re selling hers, but I’m writing this from my first Apple product!
So far I like the interface and the speed is phenomenal. I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of good free Google Apps that I’m used to having on my Android phone (like Google Drive, Reader, etc.) but I’m quickly discovering new apps for all my needs.
My other piece of news is that I have been hired as the BC Humanists first executive director! I hope to build on my work over the past couple years and really apply the knowledge and skills I’m learning from the nonprofit management courses I’ve been taking rough BCIT.
So hopefully I’ll be able to combine these pieces of great news and develop some promotional slides and videos for the BCHA that I can present on this iPad.
This afternoon I defend my masters thesis, after which I will hopefully have only a few minor corrections and then I will have earned my masters in physics. I also hope to be done school for a while, so if you know of any good job openings…
But the busy life won’t end this afternoon.
This weekend I will be one of the Vancouver-Point Grey delegates to the BC NDP’s 50th Anniversary Convention. I won’t be live-blogging it, but I will try to tweet updates. There’s a federal leadership townhall on Saturday from 4:30-6 PM, so those tweets will be under #ndpldr while general convention tweets will be under #bcndp50. I’ll try to make it to one of Brian Topp’s meet-and-greets at The Lion’s Pub (either Friday or Saturday night) and we’ll see if I can find any other leaders.
After the convention I will have my corrections and then holiday parties begin. Then I head to Alberta for Christmas, but will be back in Vancouver by New Years.
In other words, I will try to get some blogging in next week, but otherwise it might be quiet around here until January.
The South Fraser Unitarian Congregation was kind enough to send out a press release for my upcoming talk on humanism. Peace Arch News, based in White Rock, picked up the story under the headline “Atheist to speak in Newton.”
It’s a fine article, but does set the bar for all the things I need to explain:
Organizers say Ian Bushfield is to discuss how humanism…promotes living a good and moral life without the need for divine revelation.
Bushfield will also explain why humanists choose not to rely on immutable words and holy books, but instead find value and purpose in life through reason and science.
Of course, I think I wrote some of those words into the abstract that I sent along, so it may be my own fault.
In December I’m going to be doing a sermon for a Unitarian Church in Surrey on Humanism as part of their interfaith series. In preparation for that, I agreed to do a Cafe Inquiry for CFI Vancouver on Humanism.
Realizing that we all (generally) agree that humanism is good, I decided to mix it up a bit and my topic is now more focussed on the continuing spat between Greg Epstein and PZ Myers. Here’s the abstract I threw together this afternoon.
Humanism and Interfaith
Humanism can be described as atheism with a heart. Yet some New Atheists and Humanists have sparred recently over a number of issues. Some of these key issues are how we structure of our communities; the legitimacy of humanist chaplains; and whether secularists should engage in interfaith dialogues with the religious. Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, calls humanism a faith in his 2009 bestseller Good Without God. He has recently announced plans for a new book to serve as a how-to manual to establish groups similar to his Harvard community. On the other side of the debate, many atheists recoil in disgust at terms like interfaith and chaplains. They argue that the unquestionable hierarchy of religion is antithetical to free inquiry. Such structures are to be demolished, not simply rebranded. Amidst the debates on Twitter and the blogosphere, humanist communities are thriving in cities and on campuses around the world. Progressive theists are also actively starting to seek out humanist representatives for interfaith panels.
In this discussion, I will attempt to weave our way through the arguments and concerns raised by both camps. What does a humanist community look like? Are humanists trying to create church for the unchurched? Is there a need for humanist chaplains and officiants? Is humanism a faith? And can, or should, atheists participate in interfaith events?
If you’re not following me on Facebook or my personal blog, you may have missed my initial announcement that I’m running for one of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) nominations for Vancouver School Board.