Our 2007 Fall Fund Drive Special featured Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping and social scientist Allyson Cole, author of The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror. Here is a bit about/from the guests!

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives. The corporations want us to have experiences only through their products. Our neighborhoods, “commons” places like stoops and parks and streets and libraries, are disappearing into the corporatized world of big boxes and chain stores. But if we “back away from the product” – even a little bit, well then we Put The Odd Back In God! The supermodels fly away and we’re left with our original sensuality. So we are singing and preaching for local economies and real – not mediated through products — experience. We like independent shops where you know the person behind the counter or at least – you like them enough to share a story.We ask that local activists who are defending themselves against supermalls, nuke plants, gentrification — call us and we’ll come and put on our “Fabulous Worship!” Remember children… Love is a Gift Economy! “— The Rev

Allyson Cole: According to the publisher, “Condemnations of ‘victim politics’ are a familiar feature of American public life. Politicians and journalists across the ideological spectrum eagerly denounce “victimism.” Accusations of “playing the victim” have become a convenient way to ridicule or condemn. President George W. Bush even blamed an Islamic “culture of victimization” for 9/11 … Cole investigates the ideological underpinnings, cultural manifestations, and political consequences of anti-victimism in an array of contexts, including race relations, the feminist movement, conservative punditry, and the U.S. legal system. Being a victim, she contends, is no longer a matter of injuries or injustices endured, but a stigmatizing judgment of individual character. Those who claim victim status are cast as shamefully passive or cynically manipulative.”

Continue Reading »

The New Humanism” with Chris Wells

The term “humanism” has a fairly long history. Most Westerners would describe modern humanism as that philosophy born first in the European Renaissance, and which then found its teeth in the European Enlightenment. Of course, both of those periods might be better understood as the birth place of reason, science and atheism, rather than humanism.

In 1933, the first of several “humanist manifestos” were written, and here is where science advocacy, reason and atheism were combined by some to form an “ethical, philosophical life stance.” Although this life stance affirms the non-theist, human-centered, naturalism of the Enlightenment, it also calls for a free and universal society, a cooperative economic system and a participatory democracy, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to freedom such as racism, sexism, classism and other forms of separatist ideologies.

The so-called “new” humanism was first articulated in Latin America by Mario Rodriguez Cobos (pen name, Silo), and while his interpretation of humanism also respects science and reason, it is far more centered around humanism’s sociopolitical ideology than naturalism or religious critique. In fact, the “new” humanism is not closed to religious people, as some secular humanists are, because they realize the only way toward a humanist future society is by welcoming non-fundamentalist religionists into the fight. As various humanist writers and political scientists have argued, not to do so is to isolate humanism as a fringe movement in this still quite religious world.

Continue Reading »