OnlySky: The Last Lord Snow Presides

An introduction to our new home, OnlySky.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As we slowly migrate across platforms to our new home, OnlySky, I’ve gotten the go-ahead to tell you a bit about it — and set out the welcome mat for you as my second-to-last post on Patheos. Today, in our very last Lord Snow Presides, we watch the wheel turn from the old to the new once again.

The Pale Blue Dot: You Are Here.

You know that excellent image we’ve been sharing around lately in comments, the “pale blue dot” image?

“Pale Blue Dot.”

It’s got quite a story.

And it’s about my favorite subject: humanity’s triumph over superstition and oppression.

This photo was taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990 as it hurtled forth. At the time, that probe was some six billion kilometers away from home. It captured a photograph to send back to us. At that distance, Earth barely consumed a pixel of whiteness.

The only reason we got that photograph in the first place is because Carl Sagan thought it’d be a cool idea. According to La Wiki, he thought it’d mean a lot to us to see it. He thought that because he knew it’d put some things into perspective.

And it did.

Look Again At That Dot.

In 1994, Sagan called the resulting image of Earth “the pale blue dot.” It’s been known that way ever since. In the book he wrote by that name, he tells us to “look again at that dot:”

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

[…]

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

I can’t read his writing about it without tearing up.

As we study the past and look ahead to the future with hope (as much as possible, anyway), the here and now is where we live and make our homes. It’s always been our only home, no matter how hard some folks try to avoid that reality.

Meanwhile, in 1990…

What’s so hilarious to me is that in 1990, while Voyager 1 raced through the cosmos further and further away as proof of the highest glories of human ambition and imagination, the religious world was tearing itself up over schisms and rules and scandals and frantic demands for compliance.

Evangelicals had just gotten over a major Rapture scare. Naturally, they learned absolutely nothing from this disappointment. The next one would be along soon in 1994, courtesy of Harold Camping. Yesthat Harold Camping.

The Satanic Panic was starting to wind down, finally. But not fast enough. And hardline Catholics are trying their best to restart it!

Purity culture was starting to gain a real foothold in evangelical hearts.

Complementarianism (Jesus-flavored authoritarian misogyny, or JFAM — a sort of separate-but-equal for men and women) had already swept through evangelical churches.

The Southern Baptist Convention was cheerfully ripping itself apart in its Conservative Resurgence. They bid farewell to upwards of a thousand member churches without a care — all because the male leaders of the denomination hated women’s equality that much.

Very slowly, investigators were just barely starting to notice the barest edges of the ghastly, pervasive, utterly breathtakingly cruel Catholic child-rape-and-cover-up scandal.

Talk about people suffering from a lack of perspective!

It’d still be a long time before we really sussed out why authoritarians prioritize tribalistic power-grabs over literally anything else. But the tendrils of our modern-day problems with those authoritarians were all already there, already infesting and festering in millions of hearts.

OnlySky: Because Only the Sky Limits Us

Not all that long ago, some folks involved with a new secular project came to me to ask if I wanted to be involved. Once I learned about it, I couldn’t resist.

It’s going to be summat different from what I’m doing now, of course. Life’s about change, and I’ve been pushing at the seams for a while now anyway.

This new project is about the entirety of the human situation. It’s about science, storytelling, news, you name it. We’ll have podcasts and videos on it along with the expected posts and blogs.

The moment I heard its name, I filled with YES for this new thing.

It’s called OnlySky — because only the sky limits us as humans. OnlySky is a new, purely secular media outlet with purely secular voices contributing to it. These folks take as a given that this is the one life we get — and thus, that we should make the most of it that we can, and do what we can to make it as good for others as we can. And they want to explore everything they can about our pale blue dot — and the people within it.

Given the varied interests of our community, I think you’ll like it. I hope you do. It really feels like it was designed from the ground up just for us.

(When I heard what they were wanting out of writers, I said, “So basically, my entire approach to blogging.” And they said “Yes!”)

How to Find Me.

Starting in January 2022, that’s where I’ll be. Here’s the link for it:

If you go there now, you’ll see a list of Patheos Nonreligious writers who are also making the jump. You’ll be able to sign up for notification about any of us, so you’ll know when our work goes live on the site.

Please don’t worry — the Powers That Be there love Roll to Disbelieve as a name and as a writing idea. They don’t want to lose that. We’ll always be Roll to Disbelieve to them, just as I’ll always be Captain Cassidy. Things will be arranged a bit differently, is all. And they love our community and are looking forward to seeing as many of y’all there as want to be there.

To keep yourself in the loop during the 3ish weeks of downtime, my social media is listed below. As I gain other ways to make contact with our community during the downtime, I’ll announce it in comments as well as on Twitter and Facebook at the least. You don’t need an account to view Twitter, so please keep an eye out on my feed at least.

I hope y’all will join me!

NEXT UP: Tomorrow, we reach the end of our road with Patheos, and we bid our longtime home farewell.


ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...