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The Humanist Light Source Global Humanist Shoptalk

In this Season One closer, we explore the history of the light bulb, and what aligning ingenuity with literal illumination has done for us as a culture (for better, and for worse). When we consider how best to uplift fellow humans today, what lessons can the light bulb and its histories teach us about how not to measure success?
  1. The Humanist Light Source
  2. The Humanist Monument
  3. The Humanist Punk Aesthetic
  4. The Humanist Sneakerhead
  5. The Humanist Fire

I’m a huge fan of mutual uplift. What’s the point of having a platform if it’s not being used to raise up others, too? Why should we reinforce a culture that loves putting individuals on unsustainable pedestals, when we can celebrate excellence in healthier ways? Many “nones” detest religious cults of personality, but we all have difficulty breaking from secular equivalents. This difficulty is understandable, though, because most of our “discourse” involves clickbait and the expectation of snapping to respond on social media, or in the comments below. The art of listening isn’t easy to master, but it’s crucial all the same.

So, yes, okay, today I’ve launched the first main episode of Global Humanist Shoptalk (the last was a series primer that also deconstructed the dangers of the narrative “hook”; this one is on the double-edged activism of “correct” pronunciation).

But I’d like to talk a bit, instead, about the core podcast here at OnlySky.

Have you listened yet to Human Story?

Human Story is available at AppleGooglePlayer.fmSpotifyAmazon Podcasts, among others. Every episode, host Leighann Lord features one secular storyteller exploring a theme dear to their experience of being human. And what does that mean for the range of work here? It means the stories are as surprising and varied as the people who tell them.

Listening to the first few episodes

In Episode 1, Dale McGowan surprised me with his tale of moving away from religion after his father’s death… because the story doesn’t go quite the way I expected, or as he had suspected, either. Deconversion narratives are common in atheist circles, but what McGowan is really reflecting on is the “founding myth” habit that all humans tend towards. We’re always nudging and reshaping past experiences to fit our present circumstances. Can we learn anything about ourselves from listening to how we tell the stories of ourselves? That’s the question here!

Episode 2 gives us Captain Cassidy’s journey through religious communities as a child. But this, too, isn’t a simple deconversion tale. It’s a meditation on our hunger for wonder. And it’s a deep dive into how we shape ourselves in response to our surroundings (and our level of trust in others’ honesty) in pursuit of that wonder. What can we gain by listening less to external promises, and more to the human drive for wonder itself? We might just discover tremendous things not only about ourselves, but also about the power of our communities.

In Episode 3, George Hrab takes us in a wry and more zombie-laden direction. But it’s all potent stuff, for all the apocalypse scenarios. He wants us to think about the role that fear plays in our life, and how we can learn to live with it by listening when it rears its head. When we don’t look our fears head-on, we’re at serious risk of being guided unthinkingly by them. And into what? Well, probably not a zombie horde, but maybe into toxic beliefs and dehumanizing actions!

And… then there’s Episode 4

Episode 4 takes us in a different direction entirely. (I mean, would you expect any less from the dynamic Hemant Mehta?) Instead of centering his own story, Mehta shared his podcast platform with Autumn, the host of Notes on Autumn who has quite a few potent thoughts about secular discourse from her own deconversion experience.

Sociology, psychology, and general human behavioralism lie at the heart of their friendly exchange. But these topics aren’t just zeroing in on the science of religious belief! No, their chat is far more about community formation and its vulnerabilities within secular discourse. These insights all strike right at the heart of what OnlySky aims to do, in building a more inclusive community of “nones” that will foreground radical empathy and a curiosity-driven exploration of what it means to live with a fuller awareness of our one, natural life.

It’s a great conversation, every bit as meditative as the individual journeys in preceding episodes. You can also leave comments on the OnlySky pages to keep the conversation going. So, I really hope you’ll consider subscribing, liking, and signal-boosting the whole series, because I don’t doubt that Human Story is just going to get even stronger going forward.

(Also, if you’ve got a story to tell and the storytelling itch in you, touch base with us! The whole point of this platform is to find as many different ways as possible to get more of the secular world in conversation with itself about itself. We can’t do that without you)!

Whatever fills your ears these days, I hope it’s the kind of listening that deepens your connection to other humans on that more personable level we all so sorely need. Clickbait and pedestals aside, we’re all just fleeting witnesses to an amazing cosmos. Remember the human being on the other side of, oh, everything. And lift each other up as often as you can.

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GLOBAL HUMANIST SHOPTALK M L Clark is a Canadian writer by birth, now based in Medellín, Colombia, who publishes speculative fiction and humanist essays with a focus on imagining a more just world.