Having only arrived back in the U.S. in March, and started working at a new job in April, there was really no way I could arrange to make it to A Conference Called Wonder this year. Fortunately, they’re making a live stream of all days available online. Here’s the recording from yesterday, and at the bottom of this post you’ll find a link to Day One.
Yesterday was the first day of A Conference Called Wonder, the international gathering of Sunday Assembly. I wish I could have been there, but at least they have a live stream that’s being saved and can be embedded. So, here’s day one.
Roma is the type of book I’m always looking for, but only seem to find by accident. A few weeks ago I was at Strand Bookstore in Manhattan and stumbled across this thick tome with a simple title. The description looked great, and as a used book the price was right, so I ended up taking it home with me. In the following weeks I went on a journey across centuries of time, spanning from the days of simple salt traders passing by the Tiber, to the final year before the common era.
The author, Steven Saylor, masterfully follows the lineage of a single family, using a simple piece of gold jewelry that was forged at the beginning of the line. Through celebrated or else troubled births, to peaceful or (more often) bloody deaths, the bloodline carries on and the amulet travels with it.
The early days of Romulus and Remus are told in terms stripped of legend, portraying them as foundlings raised by a woman of ill-repute (she-wolf and prostitute could apparently be represented by the same word in early Latin). The gods were nothing more than men who entered the realm of myth, or else wholly the work of fiction. The tale that results is honest and thoroughly human.
The city, then republic, then empire of Rome was both orderly and bloody, with oppression going to its very roots. Modern readers might be shocked at the casual disregard for human life, or the lengths to which ancient people would go to shame and torment those they defeated in battle. There is intrigue, war, politics and a lot of sex in this book, and none of it seems exaggerated, given what is known of that era.
Read Roma because you’ll get pulled in and won’t want to put it down. Spend time with it because of the panoramic view of a slice of human history you’ll get from it. It’s worth it.
Some of my other book reviews:
If you live in the New England area, have children and would like to send them to a camp without religious indoctrination, there’s a very solid, non-theistic option. It’s Camp Quest New England, and you can watch the video below for a glimpse of what it’s like. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find links for more information about Camp Quest elsewhere.
In a segment of a recent episode of the State of Belief podcast, James Croft was interviewed on Humanism. James is Leader-in-Training (and in August will become the Leader for Outreach) at the Ethical Society of St. Louis. It was a great chat, and James continues to do exceptionally well as a spokesperson for Humanism in general and Ethical Culture in particular.
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There is an amazing free conference coming up this year in October. Rather than try to explain it, here’s the description from the website, complete with links:
Common Ground 2015 is an all-day conference, FREE and open to the general public, that aims to bring together religious believers, secular humanists, and nonbelievers together in conversation in order to gain perspective on each other’s ways of seeing the world, while embracing commonalities in our human experience that bring us together for social change. Through four panel sessions, workshops, and breakout sessions (click here to see the detailed panel descriptions, schedule, and speaker bios), attendees will hear academics and leaders from national and local organizations discuss views on finding meaning in life, ethics and values, and how to collaborate for social action.
Our vision and highest hope is that this event will culminate in social activism through interfaith organizations, tri-sector leadership, citizen activism, and more in any arena of social justice or “doing good” for the world.
This year’s conference was inspired by a 2013 dialogue, also titled “Common Ground,” hosted by Xaverian Missionaries in Scotland, UK. It was a weekend gathering which brought together people of all faiths or lack thereof, students and academics, clergy and lay leaders to encourage understanding, empathy, social action, and collaboration between nonbelievers and believers, culminating in a presentation in front of the Scottish government. Feel free to browse the brochure and the program journal for 2013.
Common Ground 2015 is sponsored by the American Humanist Association and Xaverian Missionaries. Thanks to Rutgers University, the Humanist Community at Rutgers, and the Episcopal Campus Ministry at Rutgers for hosting the conference and for their planning support.
This past Saturday a some of us from Sunday Assembly got together with Friends of Frederick Douglass Circle and others through the It’s My Park program to plant some flowers. We have a great time making a corner of Manhattan a little nicer while talking and enjoying the beautiful weather.
In the weeks and months ahead, Sunday Assembly NYC will be organizing more of these “Help Often” service projects. Stay tuned to our Meetup page, Facebook and/or Twitter for more details. You can also click here to go to a form where you can ask to have your name added to our email group for community volunteering.
If you live in the NYC area or will be here one of the weekends we’re volunteering, we’d be very glad to have you join us.