Archive for October, 2008

The Wall

On Wednesday, I went to a concert of the atheist and ever inspiring Ani Difranco, singer songwriter, activist, feminist icon, poet and founder of her own record label, Righteous Babe. However, I found myself completely blown away by the last song performed by one of her supporting artists, Anaïs Mitchell. The song was The Wall from the folk opera Hadestown based on the Orpheus legend and written by Mitchell with composer Michael Chorney. The song normally occurs as a musical number with several singers, a chorus and orchestral backing, but last night’s rendition consisted solely of Anaïs Mitchell and her guitar to stunning effect. The melody and lyrics are simple and straightforward but they provide a profound social commentary and lyrical refrains which return to haunt you long after the song is complete. The lyrics and the structure of the song differ quite a bit between the musical and the solo version so there are links for both below, but my preference is for the solo arrangement.

A video of Anaïs Mitchell performing The Wall in Paris on October 26th can be found here. The introduction to The Wall starts at 3:00 minutes if you want to skip the first song.

A performance from the musical with full cast and orchestra can be found here.

Humanist Symposium #27

For this halloween edition of the Humanist Symposium I welcome you to the craggy, grey and gothic city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Some claim that Edinburgh is the most haunted city in the UK and perhaps in Europe too. Indeed, there are numerous ghost tours and the University of Edinburgh itself is renowned for its long established Parapsychology research group. However, Edinburgh also played a key role in the Scottish Enlightment, an explosion of intellectual and scientific accomplishment including great thinkers such as atheist philosopher David Hume who was born in Edinburgh. Today, there is a flourishing humanist community with a local group of the Humanist Society of Scotland and an active student Humanist Society. So without further ado, I bring you to our present contributions…

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That old time religion

Apologies for the irregular posting at the moment, I should be back on track again now. A bit of a lighthearted post this time. I have recently moved again and have uncovered the notes for a post that I lost during my last move a few weeks ago.

A while ago Greta Christina had a competition on her atheist blog to come up with alternate verses for the song ‘Old Time Religion’. The idea was to come up with parodies of humanism, atheism or newly suggested humorous religions such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster or my personal favourite, Ceiling Cat. I missed the deadline for the competition but thought I’d share my efforts with you anyway. Looking back at the example verses I’m not sure mine are exactly canon but it was fun at the time.

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Storm in a Teacup

I’m a little late getting to this but I still feel it’s worth talking about. On Sunday 14th September, Reverend Dr Malcolm Brown made headlines with his essay “Good religion needs good science“. In the essay, Rev Dr Brown discusses how science is not necessarily incompatible with Christianity, warns of the dangers of social darwinism and makes an apology to Charles Darwin on behalf of the Anglican church, that is, the Church of England. I confess that what interests me more than the essay or apology itself is the reaction to it.

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A Modern Moral Dilemma

One of the most common moral dilemmas that most of us face on an almost daily basis is that catch 22 question of whether we should give money to those begging on the street (e.g. here & here). Begging is that rare moment in modern society where we actually look in the face of those in need who are asking us for help. Live in an area long enough and you probably know and recognise those faces sitting by the cash machine, on the bridge, by the station, on the park benches. We all know that we should help, but how?

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