Sunday, February 27, 2011


I have another blog that I've used for technology-only related posts, Agile From the Ground Up. But, I'm kind of tired of maintaining different collections of writings in different places. There's just one me. I have many different interests and aspects, and activities to me. I'd rather not segment myself.

It's been a long past year and start to this year already, with my aunt passing away, my brother Danny getting surgery, and my father stating that he going to be, at long last, telling my two other brothers, David and Jeff, about me. That's no small thing for me, after almost 19 years of being a secret, once again, to half of my family, and never being able to really see through the veil of what was being done, or not wanting to, until the last couple of years.

But during that time, I've come to a far greater and wonderful knowledge and connection to my mother's side of my family and upward through my grandfather and his siblings and even his parents! How fortunate I am for this! It is one of the reasons I am working to create a book about my great-grandmother's life and her beautiful paintings.

Over the last couple of years, I've either started or co-founded several social groups that have been influential to me and others. The most prominent of these is The Atlanta Science Tavern, which I co-founded with Carol Potter in 2008. The group now has over 1,000 members, and it has been, truly, an exercise in self-organization and cooperation amongst many dedicated people. There will be a brief article in Atlanta magazine in June about the group. I am very thankful that Marc Merlin has taken formal leadership of the group and will be leading its transition into a full-blown not-for-profit organization. I can only imagine the expanded good that we'll be able accomplish in the coming years.

I suppose I have a different sensibility about the world than a lot of people, including many in my own extended family who are Christians. I was not raised to believe any specific creed, a fact for which I am very grateful to my mother and family. Because of this, I feel most comfortable considering myself Humanist and Unitarian Universalist, being now a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, which is a congregation which collaborated with Ebenezer Baptist to let white students and black students get to know each other during tumultuous times around the middle of last century.

Over the last few days I've been watching PBS documentaries about presidents, Native Americans, and today I started re-watching the God in America series, which is fascinating. I've also listened to a few more lectures in the American Mind audio course from The Teaching Company that I mentioned in yesterday's post. What struck me today, as it did when I visited his estate, was Thomas Jefferson's willingness to speak up, on record, for the Baptists' right to believe as they did, even though he personally disagreed with their views. Leaving aside other dubious aspects of Jefferson's character, it is important to understand just how critical his support for religious freedom really was. You can read his letter to the Danbury Baptists here: You can also learn much more about Jefferson, including the Jeffersonian Bible, here in the PBS series "From Jesus to Christ":

Why comment on this now? Well, it's on my mind, and that's usually reason enough for me. However, more importantly, is that I believe in an integrated stance toward life and all that is. Perhaps part of that comes from having had to wage many battles against my own segmentation, but I think it also comes from a natural human tendency toward wanting peace and prosperity for one's self and in one's vicinity.

Last night I sat with Virginia at the Science Tavern meetup event. She has come to many, many events from the beginning, and is always informative and enthusiastic. She told me more about the Southeastern Photographic Society that she is heavily involved with, and also about how she knows S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A, and how she knows the Spiveys, who donated funds for Spivey Hall, after they made money developing Lake Jodeco and Lake Spivey, which is in the same neighborhood where my good friend Appollo lives, and where I've had many great boat rides during the summers.

Anyway, getting the chance to talk with her in more depth, I re-realized one of the primary reasons AST is as important as it is to me and many other people these days. While all of us could get our science news from the television, the internet, magazines, or books, it is only through conversation that we get to form connections and build friendships that often surpass boundaries of age, race, culture or sub-culture, political viewpoint, and many other dimensions.

We got a big tent. Come on under.

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