Friday, September 30, 2011

Welcome (Back) to UChicago!

Hello, Secular Students!

Welcome to Fall Quarter 2011! Hope your first week has gone well, and you're settling into life here at the University. We are really excited about the new school year, and wanted to send some updates and announcements.

  • Come see us at the RSO fair! This afternoon (Friday, September 30), from 3-5pm, in the Henry Crown Field House. 
  • First Meeting of the Year: Our first meeting will be Tuesday, October 4th, at 6 pm in Stuart 105. We'll be playing awesome games, eating delicious food, and generally having a good time, so come join us! After the meeting, we will most likely have a social event, details TBD. 
  • Second Meeting of the Year: On Tuesday, October 11th, at 6 pm in the Uncommon Room of Rockefeller Chapel, Serah Blain will be coming to talk with us. Who's Serah Blain, you ask? 
Serah Blain serves on the boards of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, the Arizona Coalition of Reason, and the Prescott Pride Center. The Executive Director of QsquaredYouth, a nonprofit organization that supports LGBTQ youth in Prescott, AZ and surrounding areas, Serah is also the organizer of the Prescott Freethinkers, a thriving community of nontheists in Northern Arizona that meets regularly for discussion, fellowship and fun. She also co-chairs the Secular Student Alliance at Prescott College where she is working on a B.A. in Engaged Humanism. Her current interfaith volunteer projects include hospice care, and faith outreach for the Prescott Pride Center. Serah has two children who are being raised to be conscientious, compassionate human beings. (copied from her blog, NonProphet Status
  • Church Visits: Our first event will be on Sunday, October 9: We will attend a service of the Living Hope Church, a protestant church that meets on campus. This is part of a larger plan to take groups of SSA students to various churches in Hyde Park. Pastor Brad Beier has offered to hang out with us afterward if we have any questions. We'll also head somewhere afterward to get coffee/lunch and chat about the service. The service starts at 11:30am, and we'll have more details about out plans at our meeting on Tuesday. 

That’s all for this installment. After the first meeting, we will start sending out regular Weekly Updates on the Secular Students Plus listhost, as well as posting them here on the blog.

In conclusion, this week’s quote is from Isaac Asimov:
“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." 

Hope to see you later today, or on Tuesday!
~The UChicago Secular Student Alliance~
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Part and Whole: How Communities Large and Small Benefit Each Other

By: Chana Messinger

This is cross-posted (with a slightly different title) from my personal blog at


Why does the Secular Movement (or Skeptical, or Atheist, or whatever) exist? Well, that’s an interesting and complicated question, and people answer it in a lot of different ways. The different visions that people have for their own communities or the movement are fascinating, and I imagine that they come out of differences not only in personal expectations, but also experiences of social communities and religious communities and how those are compared. All this is to say that I’m often curious about Secular Student Alliance affiliates across the United States and how they see themselves and the services they provide. I expect that some focus a great deal on their own communities, on their schools and on the community that they can provide for their members, which makes perfect sense in a variety of contexts, including, for example, a highly religious institution where there are few resources other than those who are already in the group. For my group, however, I take a different tack, which is to see our group as part of and inextricably linked to the broader movement. The reasons for this are several.