Montreal Pride

Eric Adriaans, National Executive Director, CFI Canada was in Montreal to take part in the pre-parade, LGBT Community Day:

This weekend I was warmly received by a fantastic group of people who also followed through to impress me deeply with their passion, energy and vision. What an amazing group of people.

In his post, Eric included a picture of Badr Hadrioui, CFI volunteer, and Montreal Branch Manager, Joan Bancroft, promoting CFI Montreal/Canada.

Joan Bancroft, Badr Hadrioui  and a team of volunteers stretching to Ottawa, Peterborough all put together a great demonstration of that vision.  Summing up the experience, Joan said, “This little community of ours is a powerhouse…three consecutive days of CFI/Pride programming and you all gave of your time and yourselves to make it so impactful. Think of what we can accomplish by next year? I think of how our community can grow, the friends we’ll make and the conversations our work together will start. Change, on a societal/interpersonal and individual level can be difficult to measure-we can’t always know when/if/how an “intervention” (exposure to a text, interaction in a conversation, attendance at a lecture) will lend itself to a change in attitude or belief, but it matters that we try. It matters that we show up, that we engage ourselves and others in difficult and important conversations. I commend and thank you CFI Montreal, and our support and leadership in Ottawa and T.O- for showing  up, and for embracing me. On to the next!” – See more at: http://centreforinquiry.ca/montreal-pride/#sthash.QVVCpxNi.dpuf

CFI-Montreal-pride-200x200The 2014 Montreal LGBTA Parade and CFIC’s participation in the parade were an amazing success!

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Photo by Badr Hadrioui

The Montreal Gazette video features the “cornucopia of politicians” who joined the parade. However, they were not the highlight of the parade. The most important people in and around the parade were those who were at the parade to celebrate and support the LGBTA community.  This picture is “worth a thousand words“:

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Hadrioui: with subjects’ permission

Thank you Montreal and CFI Montreal; I had a great time!

Joan Bancroft, Badr Hadrioui  and a team of volunteers stretching to Ottawa, Peterborough all put together a great demonstration of that vision.  Summing up the experience, Joan said, “This little community of ours is a powerhouse…three consecutive days of CFI/Pride programming and you all gave of your time and yourselves to make it so impactful. Think of what we can accomplish by next year? I think of how our community can grow, the friends we’ll make and the conversations our work together will start. Change, on a societal/interpersonal and individual level can be difficult to measure-we can’t always know when/if/how an “intervention” (exposure to a text, interaction in a conversation, attendance at a lecture) will lend itself to a change in attitude or belief, but it matters that we try. It matters that we show up, that we engage ourselves and others in difficult and important conversations. I commend and thank you CFI Montreal, and our support and leadership in Ottawa and T.O- for showing  up, and for embracing me. On to the next!” – See more at: http://centreforinquiry.ca/montreal-pride/#sthash.QVVCpxNi.dpuf
This weekend I was warmly received by a fantastic group of people who also followed through to impress me deeply with their passion, energy and vision.  What an amazing group of people. – See more at: http://centreforinquiry.ca/montreal-pride/#sthash.QVVCpxNi.dpuf
Montreal Branch Manager

Humanist Children’s Book In Progress

Russ Appelt and his girlfriend Elsie sponsor a student at Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. However, inspired by Lylah Mouton at KidsHeartKids and by Sean McGuire’s ongoing support for KHPS at My Secret Atheist Blog, Russ wanted to do more to help the school and the kids, so he is in the process of writing the text for a children’s book entitled Good Day Uganda, with illustrations by an artist from Malaysia.

Appelt3

tinyurl.com/lfpcbf7

Sean McGuire has written a detailed post on Russ Appelt, and Good Day Uganda and has included a selection of the illustrations for the book.

Russ sent me additional illustrations for this post. Here is one of the book’s beautiful illustrations:

AppeltRuss has a request:

If you have any ideas on what else I could include in this children’s book please send them my way.

Put on your thinking cap, and when you have an idea or ideas for Russ, contact him.  Russ’s email is included in Sean McGuire’s post.

Coming Out Atheist

Greta

No, I’m not coming out as an atheist! It’s no secret that I and Canadian Atheist are atheists. However, Greta Christina, whose newest book is entitled Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, knows it is very difficult for some people to come out as an atheist:

In my research for “Coming Out Atheist,” I read numerous stories of atheists who had stayed religious for years — simply because everyone around them was religious, and they never considered the possibility that someone could be non-religious.

According to Amazon,

Coming out as an atheist is a powerful, liberating act. It makes life better for you, for other atheists, and for the world. But telling people you’re an atheist can be risky. What are the best ways to do it? And how can we help each other take this step? In this compassionate, friendly, down-to-earth how-to guide, author Greta Christina offers concrete strategies and guiding philosophies for coming out as an atheist. Based on hundreds of coming-out stories, the book offers a map of the territory atheists are likely to encounter and ideas on how to pick the path that’s best for you. This accessible, empathetic guide reflects a wide range of coming-out experiences. . . . For atheists who are on the fence, it offers guidance on making that decision—and gentle encouragement to take that step. Inspiring and realistic, kind and powerful, Coming Out Atheist is the much-needed guidebook atheists have been waiting for.

Should “atheists who are already out” read Coming Out Atheist? Yes, Christina’s book

gives practical ideas on how to help others join you in the sunlight.

What a great way to describe the place where atheists reside: in the sunlight!

Proud To Be Montréal Bound

fierte-montreal

“Our Flag, Our Fire: ORANGE”

« Notre drapeau, notre flamme : ORANGE »

I will be in Montreal for Fierté Montréal, the Montreal Pride Parade, which will be held on Sunday, August 17, 2014, beginning at 13:00.

The parade will start on the corner of Guy Street and travel east on René-Lévesque Boulevard, culminating on Sanguinet Street and the Village. The crowd will march to Place Émilie-Gamelin where everyone is invited to continue the celebrations during the MEGA T-DANCE until the closing show.

I will be marching with CFI Montreal, you should be able to find me on the CFI float or floating around it. I will be wearing a CFI Montreal Pride t-shirt:

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Designed by Nania Sergi; Printed by Detailed Diva.

 

or a black CFI Canada “Stop faith-based bigotry” t-shirt:

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See you there because “it doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.”

The Dangers of Dualism

brainAs a person who requires evidence to be convinced about the reality of things, I reject dualism:

the position that mental phenomena are, in some respects,non-physicalor that the mind and body are not identical. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism, in the mind–body problem.

I reject this notion because there is no supporting evidence that stands up to scientific scrutiny. Science tells us, we are our brains or as neuroscientist Christof Koch likes to put it, “no brain, never mind!”. The brain endows us with consciousness, gives us our personality, our predispositions, our cognitive abilities, our level of empathy and so on.

Though I consider dualists wrong (there is no ghost in the machine), I never saw them as dangerous. Until now.

The tragic suicide of beloved actor and comedian, Robin Williams shone a much needed bright light on the indiscriminate illness of depression. Depression is an illness where brain chemistry (monoamine chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) cause the sufferer to feel constant sadness (sometimes for no apparent reason), feelings of worthlessness, guilt, suicidal thoughts, among other physical symptoms such as sleeplessness or fatigue. Because scientists and doctors understand that the brain and mind are one, they also understand that the person cannot just “snap out of it” and often prescribe anti-depressent medication that helps correct brain chemistry by targeting monomine chemicals.

When I read this article titled, Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice and especially this sentence:

No, we are more than our brains and bigger than our bodies. Depression is a mental affliction, yes, but also spiritual.

it hit me just how dangerous dualism can be. To the dualist, depression is something that can be conquered by using your spirit to overcome it. Your spirit just has to be powerful enough to overcome your brain. Imagine if doctors felt this way (and maybe some do)! Can you imagine the increase in suicides? No wonder, in our dualistic society, depression and other mental illnesses carry such stigma – in this view, it is the will of the sufferer that is to blame.

Thankfully, many theists (who believe in an afterlife, enjoyed or suffered by a soul or spirit) are inconsistent in their beliefs and reject these misguided notions, accepting the science (a cognitive disconnect that I’m sure requires coping mechanisms) and I really do hope that those same theists do not take these chastising words in the article to heart:

I can understand atheists who insist that depression must only be a disease of the brain, as they believe that our entire being is contained by, and comprised of, our physical bodies. But I don’t understand how theists, who acknowledge the existence of the soul, think they can draw some clear line of distinction between the body and the soul, and declare unequivocally that depression is rooted in one but not the other. This is a radically materialist view now shared by millions of spiritualist people.

A very troubling trend.

I hope instead, atheists and theists a like read a more accurate article about what it feels like to want to kill yourself and start to move away from this dangerous dualist notion.

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