Friday, November 6, 2009

Thunder and Lightning

Thunder and lightning in the skies of Seattle. I grew up in New England, the land of the nor’easter. Hurricanes would wind their way up the coast in the late summer. The rainy season in the Pacific Northwest is so sedate in comparison., except for the occasional earthquake, or volcanic eruption. But late last night, and at times today, there was rolling thunder and lightning in the skies of Seattle. Maybe God was showing his anger over the fact that the Freedom From Religion Foundation was holding their 32nd annual convention downtown at the Red Lion Inn. Or maybe their was also an event at the Discovery Institute that raised His ire, and prompted the thunderous outburst in the sky. Then again, maybe it’s just the weather.

Speaking of FFRF: tonight I attended the opening evening of the aforementioned convention. Tonight’s speakers were Phil Zuckerman, an associate professor of sociology at Pitzer college, and author of Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment. He was and informative and entertaining speaker, and, yes, inspiring. His book details his sociological study, comparing the least religious nations against the most religious, and he even breaks that down into states. Some of his results are not surprising, because it has a lot of correlatives with conservative versus liberal areas. The more religious states have the higher rates of divorce, and violent crime. There is more teen pregnancy and STDs amongst the faithful’s children, because they tend not to use protection. There was a lot of spontaneous applause during his talk, but, for the most part, that was the audience congratulating themselves for being on the positive side of these studies. Hooray! We’re more tolerant! Yippee! We have more oral sex! You read that correctly. Secularists have more oral sex. To be even more specific: non-believing women are more likely to receive oral sex. “Oral sex” being the buzz words for the evening.

Ron Reagan was the closing speaker. He had received the Emperor Has No Clothes Award in 2004, after publicly criticizing politicians at his father’s funeral for wearing their religion on their sleeve. He has never shied away from proclaiming himself an “unabashed atheist.” This year he brought his award with him, and gave the acceptance speech he wasn’t able to give back then. Being a talk show host on a politically liberal radio station (Air America), his speech was naturally peppered with references to politics, and his father’s time as president. He was most passionate when speaking about stem cell research and the attempt by the right to moralize the issue. He was humorous, and congenial, but his speech seemed a little offhanded. The speakers were through at 9 pm, and then it was time for cake. I find that cake at these types of events is always too sweet. Good, but so rich you can actually see your waistline expanding with each bite.

Tomorrow the convention is an all-day affair, although there will be a two-hour break for lunch to tour the city. There is even a woman from Frommer’s speaking in the morning…I’m assuming to sell her chintzy tour book to gullible easterners. I doubt if I’ll do any touring downtown, but I may end up in a corner of the hotel lobby, reading about Phineas Gage and his incident with the crowbar.

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