(Shawn, foreground, represents at #InterfaithMarchLA)
When I heard that a coalition of faith groups was planning a march down Wilshire Boulevard to proclaim common ground, support religious freedom -- including the rights of Muslims -- and stand against all violence in the name of religion, I knew I wanted Sunday Assembly LA to participate. I wouldn’t blame you for asking why. Historically, organizations of non-believers haven't always been keen on doing “interfaith,” for a variety of reasons. And they often haven’t been invited. In part, I think this is because atheists and humanists have occupied a relative blip on the cultural landscape for some time, seldom visible in their communities unless they were protesting something related to the separation of church and state.Read more
A thoughtful first-time visitor to SALA shares her impressions. What do you think?
(Reposted with permission.)
This morning, I went to “atheist church.”* Well, I’m sure they wouldn’t call it that but, as steeped in Christian culture as I am and, for lack of a better word…. A woman I know was doing a talk about touch deprivation at Sunday Assembly Los Angeles (SALA). According to their website, SALA is "a god-free community that meets monthly to hear great talks, connect for service projects, sing songs and generally celebrate life.” I’d heard about SALA on NPR some time ago and, since being here, have met a few people who attend their meetings so I decided to check it out.
“Fascinating,” Mr. Spock used to intone dryly, revealing not a hint of emotion in his flat voice, and perhaps only the slightest bemusement with his single arched eyebrow.
For many people in the rational, skeptical, critical-thinking, freethought, atheist, agnostic, humanist communities, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock has always held a special place in the pantheon of popular culture heroes. His use of pure logic and intellect, his clear-headed calculations, and his cool composure under pressure made him the very icon of reason and, thus, the embodiment of that to which any good (not)God-fearing person aspired.Read more
There is a well-worn joke about the futility of trying to organize atheists:
Moving Social Justice organizer Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson.
“Here,” speaking as if she were one of the white men who are the public face of the New Atheism, “take this ‘We Are All Africans’ t-shirt and ticket to Darwin Day and sit down and shut the fuck up while we white atheists front like we’re Public Enemy Number One.” As Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson continued her opening remarks to the Moving Social Justice conference, I felt like somebody had just taken an industrial nail gun and nailed me to the back of my chair. I looked over at my fellow Sunday Assemblers, all white, middle-class, straight and mostly male, and thought, “Oh, Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”Read more
I just wanted to quickly comment on how great it was to meet some of the folks from RAFT (Riverside Atheists and Free Thinkers) while attending their event to show the Jeremiah Camara's documentary Contradiction.
It felt good to connect with a neighboring community group as well as to see the documentary a second time. Jeremiah is still tweaking and editing it to get it to a final cut. This new version was shorter and a bit more of a cleaner cut then the one I originally saw. Also, he was actually available to do a Q&A after the showing this time so it was great to get some further insight from him directly. He revealed that he is working on a second documentary that will put more focus on what is happening with the money in these underserved and over-church-saturated communities of color.
After this experience, I wanted to make sure to encourage us all to do our best to reach out and connect with groups in neighboring areas when possible. There are always benefits to building more relationships and connections with as many other groups and organizations as possible.
Here is a link to some photos from the event:
Set your DVR for May 11th at 10pm, when Morgon Spurlock hosts Sunday Assembly Nashville on Inside Man!
Sunday Assembly volunteers joined Enrich LA this past Saturday in beautifying the campus of Lockwood Elementary School while making friends with other fabulous volunteers. Enrich LA, with the help of students, friends and parents, has brought green beauty to over 30 schools all over LA.
We hope you'll join us for a Sunday Assembly LA service project soon, or pitch a worthy project that could use volunteers! sundayassemblyla.org/help_often
To find out more about the good work Enrich LA does, visit them on the web at www.enrichla.org.
I woke up yesterday to a damp and more-than-a-little dreary Saturday morning, and my mood reflected the seeming melancholy of the day. I had absolutely no desire to get out of bed at 7 a.m., and even less interest in driving through the series of miniature wading pools dotting the roads and highways between Burbank and Vernon. But, sigh ... I had made a commitment (what on Earth was I thinking) to head up the Sunday Assembly crew's participation in distributing food to the hungry with the L.A. Regional Food Bank, and by uh ... God, I wasn't going to welsh.
I arrived at the food bank by 8:15, with legal waiver in hand, sporting my disheveled Sunday Assembly L.A. T-shirt, my eyes scanning the giant warehouse for anything resembling coffee. At that early hour the facility was filling up fast with high school kids and college kids wearing colorful sorority and fraternity sweatshirts and T-shirts. The kids were spirited and relaxed with each other, and I quickly learned, after speaking with a soft-spoken high school junior, that these kids were required to be here. Apparently community service is now pedagogy. I smiled to myself and couldn't help but to notice that my determination to be "grouchy" today was lifting.
Within minutes I was joined by Josh and Kendall Williams, a delightful and down-to-earth couple and fellow members of the Sunday Assembly L.A. family, and perhaps despite myself, I'd somehow moved from sulky to spirited in a "nano." I mean here were these bright-eyed, friendly folks who traveled just as far as I had (we discovered we were neighbors) and they were anything but glum.
A little while ago, Sunday Assembly got mail from an assembler that reminded us once again why we're lucky to be a part of this community with you. When we asked her if we could share it, she responded that she very much hopes that it might reach the family who reached out to her to help.
I want to tell you what Sunday Assembly has done for me. In 2013 I was jobless and homeless for a little over 6 months. It isn’t that I didn’t have money for rent, it’s that I had a dog and the places I could afford wouldn’t allow me to keep her and the places that did allow a dog were way out of my price range. Was I destined to lose my best friend in order to have a roof over my head? I rued not being a member of a church. There I would have had the ear of the pastor and the help and compassion of the entire congregation. My plight would have been listed in the church flyer and read by hundreds. But I am an atheist. I had no place to advertise and no church to help. I had no one’s ear. And I couldn’t--wouldn’t--give up my dog.