The Meming of Life: on secular parenting and other natural wonders

Double the members. Double the donations. Double the good works.

Screen shot 2013-03-31 at 12.48.20 PMFoundation Beyond Belief, one of the loves of my life, is going through a pretty profound transformation this year. Thanks to the generosity of a few extraordinary donors this year, our programs are expanding rapidly, including a pilot for an international humanist service corps that launches this summer. (Much more on that soon.)

But the humanist giving program remains at the heart of what we do — over 1,350 individual humanists contributing what they can on a monthly basis to make the world a better place. We’ve supported over 100 outstanding charities since our 2010 launch and expect to clear $1 million in total donations by year’s end. And every dollar designated for our featured charities goes to those charities.

I know a lot of Meming of Life readers are also Foundation members, and that seriously warms my cockles. If you invite a friend to join and they tell us you referred them, you’ll be entered in a drawing for some cool thank-you prizes, and so will they! (Deets here.)

If you’re not a member yet, now is a GREAT time to join. For one thing, you’ll help us reach our goal of doubling our giving membership by the end of 2013. The giving is simple and fully in your control. You choose your own giving level, starting as low as $5 a month, then distribute your donations among our five cause areas based on your own vision of humanism.

So why not join us now, or watch this video, THEN join, or learn more here, THEN join. Thanks!

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Win a free signed copy of Atheism For Dummies!

dumban360There’s a new Facebook page for Atheism For Dummies, and for the next four weeks I’ll be posting a quote a day from the book, including some in the form of shareable memes.

Share any quote or meme from that page between March 16 and April 13 and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy of the book! Talk about easy. Four winners in all, one per week.

Drop on by and Like the page, then start sharing that sweeeet dummy love.

Endings

[Reposted from January 2008.]

An animated video of a kiwi with a dream nabbed “Most Adorable” in the 2007 YouTube Awards, along with 14 33 million views to date. As you’ll see, there’s something more profound going on here than mere adorability:

My kids all loved it. Connor watched it again and again, sorting out the implications of and emotions around the kiwi’s decision.

This morning Erin asked to see it again, and I got her on the YouTube page. She watched it once, then clicked on one of the video responses that popped up. Suddenly she was clapping and woohooing.

“What happened?” I asked.

“THE KIWI LIVES!” she crowed. “He doesn’t die at the end! He LIVES!!”

I walked to the computer, puzzled. She replayed what she had just watched. Somebody had done a 15-second remake of the ending:

Most interesting of all are the comments on that one — mostly irate, convinced (as I am) that this revised ending robs the original of its poignancy and power. I agree, but I LOVE what it reveals about the human inability to accept, or even think about, death.

In addition to death itself, the original raises issues about the right to die, the consequences of free will, the power of the creative spirit, and the dangerous beauty of singleminded dreams. It’s incredibly rich and provocative. If instead you prefer a dose of denial with your entertainments, the revision’s for you.

Or, if you prefer no remnant of redeeming features, there’s this:

Checking in on FBB

Foundation Beyond Belief, the humanist giving community I first announced on this blog, is continuing to grow, and I realized recently I haven’t been keeping Meming of Life readers in the loop very well. Bad Dad.

We now have over 1,300 contributing members and have raised over three-quarters of a million dollars for more than 100 charities since our 2010 launch. Volunteers Beyond Belief now includes teams of humanist volunteers in 23 cities across the U.S., and we’re launching our first international affiliates in Canada and Australia later this year.

Here’s a peek at our current slate of beneficiaries:

Now why not join up?

Come and giddit!

afdfinalI’m pleased to announce that Atheism for Dummies is now available! Amazon has both the paperback and Kindle editions.

It’s especially fun to share this with those of you who followed the process from the first announcement nine months ago (isn’t THAT adorable) through the short daily posts of the Dummies Diary, during which you all helped tremendously with some knotty questions.

I’m deeply grateful to a lot of good people for help with this complex project. I’ll post my Acknowledgments page below, and those of you with an eye for bold font may catch a hat tip in your direction:

AUTHOR’S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thanks first of all to the great and friendly atheist Hemant Mehta, the first person to think I’d be a good person to write this book. I’m deeply indebted to Ed Buckner and Amanda Metskas, two giants of the freethought world who took the time to read this book while it was in progress and whose rod and staff guided me when I went astray.

Greta Christina and Jennifer Michael Hecht are the two great writers and thinkers on whose work I’ve drawn more than any others for this project.

Immense thanks to the staff and interns at Foundation Beyond Belief who kept things humming while I wrote: Airan Wright, Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, Claire Vinyard, Kelly Wright, Walker Bristol, Cathleen O’Grady, Andrew Geary, Sam Shore, Sarah Hamilton, Kate Donovan, Chana Messinger, Corey Glasscock, Lauren Lane…and special praise for the dynamic duo of Noelle George and AJ Chalom.

A hat tip to my blog readers at The Meming of Life who helped plumb the depths of several big questions.

Many thanks to the professional and supportive team at Wiley, especially Anam Ahmed and Chad Sievers, and my splendid agent Dr. Uwe Stender.

Finally, all thanks and love to my wife Becca, who also read and improved every page, and our three spectacular kids, Connor, Erin, and Delaney. You make it all worthwhile.

If you feel moved after reading the book to leave a review at Amazon, that would be swell. Reviews are especially important in the early going. And if you have questions about the book once you see it, click the Ask a Question button. I’ll get to as many as I can.

Now shoo!