Over the next few days, I’ll be at the American Atheist Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m particularly interested in hearing Nate Phelps, the son of Pastor Fred Phelps, the mastermind behind the loving ministry known as God Hates Fags. (I’m not going to help him get hits. Google search it if you want.)
I really don’t have much of an idea what to expect from this meeting. The last one I went to was characterized by a sense of urgency. We knew that our country was in jeopardy of becoming a theocracy, and we were very lucky to hear from Ayaan Hirsi Ali at a time when it was crucially important to be reminded of how dangerous the mixing of church and state can be. I was lucky enough to be part of interviews with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. (My god, that man can put back some Johnny Walker Black and soda!) I got to meet Matthew Chapman, the great, great grandson of Charles Darwin. I spoke briefly with Daniel Dennett. When someone could slow her down long enough to talk, I had a very lovely conversation with Margaret Downey, who I now recognize as one of the most genuine and caring people on the planet. I shook hands with Sam Harris. I got absolutely obliterated drunk with a random group of some of the nicest (and greatest) people I’ve ever met. All in all, it was a fabulous three days, and I’m not sure if I can expect the same level of excitement and interest this time, but I certainly hope so.
If I can coax my dying laptop to make it through one more roadtrip, I might be able to post some updates from the conference. I’m not counting on it, though.