Our Lady of the Holy Cinema

Can a secular humanist organization build the same kind of socially progressive, inspiring, close-knit community that many religious institutions possess?


Welcome to Our Lady of the Holy Cinema. After the processional, please remain standing for the blessing of the popcorn. Following services there will be a coffee hour, after which Deacon Scorcese will give a lecture entitled "Morality, Mistresses and Prostitution: Eliot Spitzer vs. Fanny and Alexander." Now please turn to page 235 in your hymnal and rise for our opening hymn, "Hooray for Hollywood."

OK, maybe I’m being a little over the top, but I am gay, after all. I’m also a musician, and for a good portion of my life I have played the piano and sung in a myriad of temples and churches. Most have been comprised of interesting and altruistic groups of people who discuss morality, traditions and ethics; organize and fight for progressive goals; build close and admirable bonds among people--in other words, partake of many fulfilling activities that I would greatly enjoy participating in. As an atheist, though, no matter how much I admire their sense of community, devotion, and social action, I've never felt comfortable becoming a member of any of these groups, as I don’t believe in the central rationale for their existence or mine—God.

As more and more atheists are becoming visible, why not consider providing people with some of the same positive elements that organized religion does—community, purpose, and a sense of inspiration? I would even go as far to say that it is our duty to be a counter-balance to the increasing religiosity in American society. We are social beings who crave fellowship and respond to inspiration.

Personally, I have had the most inspirational and revelatory experiences of my life in movie theaters. Great films have moved me to tears, made me laugh, stirred me to anger and inspired me to action. Why can't a group of cinema and humanity lovers meet once a week, watch a film, discuss the ethical situations revealed, care for their members, and organize to help effect change in the world?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less