Godless Grad Student

news and reflections from an active atheist and disabled graduate student

Archive for January 2010

Secular Student Alliance (GMU) first Spring 2010 Meeting!

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The Secular Student Alliance (George Mason University) had their first meeting of the semester yesterday… yes, on the first day back to classes!

We have an exciting semester to come.
1/25 – Movie Night “Flock of the Dodos” – 8 PM – SUB II Room 3 & 4
2/12 – Darwin Day Pasta Dinner – 6 PM – SUB II Room 5, 6, & 7
2/16 – February Meeting – 6 PM – JC DH Gold Room (Ground Floor)

In the works, is a “Meet the Local Groups” night in March.  Four off-campus groups are going to be visiting us one evening and giving a quick introduction to their group followed by a Q&A.  Also, in April we’re organizing a group trip to the American Atheists Convention!  Last year 3 of us went to the American Atheists Conference in Atlanta, GA and had an amazing time.


Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit

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I just got back from the Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in DC.  I lead a group with Beltway Atheists.  Fortunately we had group tickets – several people were very disappointed to not be able to buy tickets at the museum.

It was an ordeal getting to the museum.  I usually try to avoid taking the Metro because elevators are often out of service.  However there is no place to park in DC… so I checked the WMATA site before I left.  Nevertheless, the elevator was out when I arrived at the station.  I went back to my car and drove into the city.  I just happened to find a parking space on the street!

One I met up with the group, passed out tickets, and got inside myself, I really enjoyed it.  It was crowded (apparently they let in 150 people in each time slot) but after the first small room it became easier to maneuver around the crowd – also, one of the Beltway Atheists members gave me her audio tour device.  I had read the website in detail but there was still a lot to learn.  I specifically noticed how thick the warriors legs were (presumably to hold their weight.)  It sounds obvious, but it wasn’t something I was expecting.

I didn’t notice anything about how the religious beliefs (specifically in regards to afterlife) developed.  I know fear of death and the idea of the afterlife has surfaced in religion but this belief was just so extensive that I wonder how it became so complex.  On a side note, Christopher and I had an interesting conversation about Ancient Egyptian belief of the afterlife.

Afterward, a few of us went to Potbelly Sandwich Works… It seems to be much less complicated for me to just pick a restaurant rather than asking members to choose that morning.

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January 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Drinking Skeptically – Richmond

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There are some great groups in Richmond – Richmond Area Free Thinkers (RAFT – an affiliate of WASH) and Richmond Reason and Naturalism Association (RRNA).  There’s also a student group on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University called the United Secular Alliance.

Most of the activities of these groups fall into the educational category.  Also, aside from the student group, the existing groups were serving the older population.  That’s great!  However, recently a group of freethinking girls (including myself) were discussing the need to supplement what’s already in our city with a social group targeted toward a younger crowd.

Thus, Drinking Skeptically-Richmond was born, and is part of the worldwide Drinking Skeptically movement.  This past Tuesday we had our second monthly event.  9 people came out – which isn’t bad considering we’ve only been around since December!  We are meeting once a month – our next event is on Wednesday, February 10th at 7PM.

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January 14, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Wondering why I’ve started this blog?

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First of all, hello, and welcome to my blog!

Since I became Organizer of Beltway Atheists, in July of 2008, I’ve been posting news stories and current events to the Beltway Atheists mailing list.  I began this practice simply because it was something routinely done by the previous Organizer.  Many people like the stories, some feel I spend too much time crawling the web on the look-out, and a small minority complains of excessive e-mails.  However, there’s also a vocal group outside of Beltway Atheists who would like access to these stories but don’t want to join the group for one reason or another.  Often, it is simply because they have heard of my work from a friend but do not live in the the area and would not be interested in events.

As a result, I’ve decided to place links to these stories here on my new blog rather than on the mailing list.  Actually, I should take that back… I *may* also decide to send out a weekly summary on the mailing list.  I will have to see how much time I have once the blog takes off.  I also do not want to severely impact the level of activity on the list.  There are also a few other reasons I’ve chosen to start a blog.

Primarily, I’d like to comment on some of the stories.  Since I am the “leader” of Beltway Atheists, I’ve been hesitant to comment on the stories.  Secondly, I’d like to talk about other issues.  One of the things I’ve been hesitant to discuss in the past is my disability and how my disability (a spinal cord injury) and other medical issues affect my role in the atheist movement.  I have not discussed this in the past because I wanted people to look at my activism rather than form a view of my based on my disability.  I feel that I now have an established role in the community, however, and can bring light to my disability without it overshadowing my contributions to the community.

I had been thinking about starting a blog for several months.  This is, for the most part, unfamiliar territory for me… last weekend, I asked Hemant Mehta about it and he suggested WordPress.  So, here I am!

– Shelley

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January 12, 2010 at 1:21 am