September 2012 Latino Atheists Meeting

There was a meeting of the Chicago Latino Atheists a couple of weeks ago.

As usual, there were a few new people. Martha was not able to make it. Jose was there. Jaime was there. Unfortunately, Jaime’s wife was not there. We needed La Acha there, because Francisco was there. We started with introductions, and it felt like half of the meeting was Francisco giving his introduction.

He kept talking and talking.

The minutes ticked away.

And he kept talking.

People raised childen and grew old.

And he kept talking.

Empires rose and fell.

And he kept talking.

The earth pushed mountains out of the sea.

And he kept talking.

And the sea wore down the mountains.

And he kept talking.

Finally he finished and we got down to business.

Jose was in Washington DC for a month for his job. He went to a lot of atheist/skeptic/secular groups in the DC area when he was there. And he was pumped. There was a new woman there named Yamileth who had lived in the DC area. She knows a few of the people that Jose met while he was in DC. Jose wants to affiliate with Hispanic American Freethinkers, which is based out in the DC area.

Toward the end, Rachel, the Chicago Atheist Supermodel, showed up. She has been trying to build up the atheist/skeptic community here in Chicago. She and Jose talked about collaborating.

This will be my last monthly summary for Chicago Latino Atheists. I accepted a job offer in Austin, Texas. I will be moving soon. I may or may not start a Latino Atheist group down there. There are already a few atheist groups down there. And, being close to Mexico, there are a lot of Latinos. But keeping my job will be Job Number One. Austin has a reputation as being one of the more atheist-friendly cities in the country. So perhaps yet another group would be overkill.

Image from Wikipedia


August, 2012 Latino Atheists Meeting

The monthly Latino Atheists meeting was today. I did not make it. I woke up late. But Martha was there and gave me an update.

Jose is in Washington, DC for a month. Jaime was actually at a baptism. Apparently there are still religious people in his family.

It was her, Francisco and Margaret. Martha gave me the impression that it was mostly Francisco giving his usual speech: The world is going to !!!!!! because people are all a bunch of @@@@@@@@ idiots and we are all ########. Next month there will be a round of Francisco Mad Libs.  Bring an extra pencil for the kids.

Martha proved her atheist credentials: Last night she drove her son to Southern Illinois University. Then she slept for three hours, and then drove up here for the monthly meeting. She is a woman with the strength of 10,000 men (Peter Himmelman’s best song in my opinion).

I mentioned that I may be moving to Austin, Texas. I volunteered to be the Official Welcoming Committee For Incoming Young Mexican Female Atheist Gymnasts, Marathon Runners, Yoga Practitioners and Bikini Models, or OWCFIYMFAGMRYPABM for short (rolls right off the tongue). Somebody’s gotta do it. Martha said I shouldn’t get my hopes up, since most atheists in Mexico are better-educated than average, and better-educated Mexicans tend to stay in Mexico. She also recommended flying into Mexico City versus going over land.

Martha and I also discussed immigration: One topic was why immigrants from Mexico are the less-educated and immigrants from Asia are more-educated. All the immigrants in my family died a long time ago, so some of this is not too obvious to me. While there was a lot of discrimination against Irish in America in the 19th century, there were no laws against Irish coming here. For a long time there were laws restricting Asian immigration.

Martha wants to have a Skype meeting, and an Atheist Burning Man down in Central Illinois. When I was attending UIUC I went back and forth between campus and Chicago many many times. I saw all that farmland as something to suffer through. Now I like driving out in the country and spending some time down there. I don’t know if I could live there. But I do like it more than I used to. Perhaps the pressure of having to finish my degree influenced my perceptions.

You are not alone: usted no está solo

Image from Wikipedia page for Baja California Sur

2012-07 Latino Atheists Meeting

We had a meeting of the Latino Atheists more than a week ago. The monthly writeup is late.

The roster was myself, Jose, Martha, Jaime, Luz (Jaime’s wife), Lee, Victoria, Mike and Elyse (I think that is how it is spelled) and Franco and Margaret. Pablo showed up much later as well.

The new people were Mike and Elyse and Lee. Lee is from Taiwan. I arrived late, so I did not hear her story.

I have seen this trend that we get some new people at a meeting, and then they never come back. At least it’s not just Jose, Jaime and me complaining about low attendance.

A big chunk of the meeting was Franco giving prophecies of doom about the environment, pollution and energy. He says that climate change and pollution have passed the point of no return. He says that people put too much faith in technological solutions because those solutions may be unfeasable or have aftereffects and/or byproducts that people ignore. He said that we need to consume less. Early in his speech, Luz asked him if he thinks it is a contradiction to talk about pollution if he uses plastic, objects that are made of plastic (like a cel phone) or drive a car. He insisted that what he does makes no difference. Margaret says that they use as little plastic as possible, almost zero.

But I think that Luz asked a valid question. If you do not consume less, then how can you persuade others to consume less? And if you are worried about the environment, is it rational to wait for everybody else to change? Also: I do not think that consuming less and technological solutions are mutually exclusive. And I think that we should also push efficiency, but I do not have a solution to the issue of the rebound effect. This phenomenon is that when you make a process more efficient then people do more of it. So making energy generation more efficient may result in higher consumption.

Jose also gave us a video assignment: Arithmetic, Population and Energy  by Dr. Albert Bartlett, professor emeritus at the physics department at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

A few people came late, and Jose said that when people come late they should tell a joke. I think we should get rid of this rule. Few peopel can be funny on demand. Someone told us a joke, and they had to point out the punch line after they gave it.

As for Mike and Elyse: Mike did more of the talking. Mike and Jose both said that we should not shy away from the term atheist, which I agree with. Many people avoid that term since “atheist” has a bad image in this country. But by avoiding using the term, they are not doing anything to change the negative image. Mike also talked about his Polish grandmother’s deathbed de-conversion. It is interesting that even the non-Latinos at the meeting are from Catholic ethnicities.

This may be the last meeting with Martha for a while. She is being transferred to a small town in Iroquois County, Illinois. All the towns in Iroquois County are small towns. Illinois is the only state with an Iroquois County.

One theme that I am seeing come up at the Latino Atheists meeting (as well as other atheist/skeptic meetups in general) is the isolation that many female atheists/skeptics can feel, particularly minorities. It first came to my attention when Black Nonbelievers of Chicago brought Sikivu Hutchinson here for a lecture.

There was some discussion about whether or not to use Atheist Nexus for communication, or to use Facebook. Someone pointed out that there are ways to make stuff really really private on Facebook. Personally I do not like Facebook, and they have a habit of changing privacy settings and default settings without telling people.

Next month, Jose will be in DC. I will be in Austin that month, so depending on when the meeting is one of us will not be there. So there may not be a monthly write-up.

Image from Wikipedia page for Mexican state of Baja California

June 2012 Latino Atheists Meeting

The June meeting of the Chicago Latino Atheists group happened yesterday. We met at the Buzz Cafe, but there were so many of us that we got moved upstairs. We had been coming there for a couple of years, and we did not know there was an upstairs room.

Turnout was pretty high. It was myself, Jose, Martha, Jaime, Jaime’s wife, Eduardo, Espy, Vicky, Francisco and Raquel. I had seen Vicky and Francisco at different atheist/skeptic events around Chicago, but I did not interact with them very much. Eduardo and Espy are siblings, and Martha was happy to see another pair of siblings.

Jaime’s wife is taking a summer break from her day job of saving the world. She lived up to her reputation and gave us all an assignment: We should all prepare something about women and atheism. Martha gave her the nickname La Acha, which Martha said means “The Axe”. (The Spanish word for “hammer” ends with the letter “O”, and was determined to be inappropriate.)  At the last meeting Jaime’s sister got into a “discussion” with Jose, and she did not show up to this meeting. Thanks a lot, Jose.

Martha reserved the room for next month. She was reluctant to use the word “Atheist” in the reservation. But she kept the logic. (Religious people “keep the faith”, we stay rational.)

Eduardo expressed an interest in attending other atheist/skeptical groups in Chicago. I gave him my take on the scene in Chicago. He wanted to have a Latino Atheist meeting in the Loop to get us to two meetings a month. We shall see what happens. Espy recently moved to Chicago, and has worked as a personal trainer. She had lived in California. She and Eduardo had also lived in Wisconsin, and are glad to be out.

Jaime said that Eduardo knows a lot about Drupal. Perhaps there will be some changes to the website.

Raquel is a college student from Texas who is interning at a local gallery. She is the first Texan I have met who does not have a driver’s license. She is from an area of Texas outside the Golden Triangle (Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth). Jose and Martha have relatives in El Paso, so there was some talk about the difference between the cartel spillover in different parts of Texas. The school Raquel attends is in Edinburg, about 330 miles from Houston. Both cities are very very far from El Paso. Texas is big. I mean, it’s really big. No, seriously, you won’t believe how big it is. Raquel also said that if she stays in Texas she would live in Austin.

Martha and Espy are going to recruit and train an cadre of fit, atheist Hispanic women. Hopefully they will unleash an army of bikini-clad, equation-spewing Salma Hayek look-alikes on the world. I am pretty certain that is their plan. And I for one would welcome our new fit, rational Latina overlords. (I suppose I should say “overladies”, but I am not sure if it is a real word.) Religious people have their fantasies, and I have mine.

Cowboy hats and thigh-high stilletto-heeled boots. I’m just saying……

Image of seal of Mexican state of Aguascalientes from Wikipedia

May 2012 Latino Atheists Meeting

There was a Latino Atheists meeting out in Warrenville. There were not as many new people as we had hoped. It was me, Jaime, Jose, Martha, Jaime’s wife, and the only new person: Jaime’s sister.

Contrary to predictions, Jaime’s wife did not lay down the law and give us a to-do list and set out some plans. She had to leave early to save the world. That’s her day job.

Jaime talked about the web site, and is thinking about some new layouts. We decided that we should consistenly produce some more content before we worry about the layout.

Martha will write about science fiction (we spent a lot of time explaining “Doctor Who” to Jaime and his wife) and give dating advice. Jose might write about why he started the group and what the plans are.

We would also like some contributions from Latinos in other states. If you would like to write an article about the growing Latino Atheist movement, contact us. You could send us a message on Twitter. I don’t think too many of us are into Facebook.

Image of Mexico City flag from Wikipedia

Latino Atheists Meeting 2012-05-12: New Location

The next meeting for the Chicago Latino Atheists Meetup is on May 12, 2012. The location will be Warrenville. It will be at the Corner Bakery at 28258 Diehl Road. So if you live out in the Western suburbs and have been wanting to come to a meeting, now is your big chance.

Image from Meetup. Original source unknown.

Latino Atheists Meeting With Juhem Navarro-Rivera

The big Latino Atheists meeting with Juhem Navarro-Rivera (Twitter account) and his wife Yasmin happened this past weekend. There were quite a few people there: most of the usual crew, and a couple of new faces. He also has a site called The LatiNone (Twitter account here).

Another new face was Rachel, another non-Hispanic. She is interested in pushing atheist/skeptical activism forward here in Chicago, and has told me about groups I had not heard of.

One of the big topics of discussion is the religious demographics of Latinos in the USA. The big story is that a lot of Latinos are leaving the Roman Catholic Church and becoming evangelicals. But the other big story is that the number of non-affiliated Latinos is increasing just as quickly. JNR likes the term “Nones” to encompass atheists, agnostics, humanists and just about any other label that people who give themselves if they do not believe in any deity or religion. I think that is a good term, since atheism is not a religion.

He will probably post more about it. He wants us to use the ARIS survey and not the Pew survey  of religious affiliation. He also mentioned that many media reports on Latino religious trends talk about the RCC to evangelical migration, but ignore the growth of Latino Nones. He said that the Nones are the third largest group of Latinos, after the RCC and evangelicals. There are more Latino Nones than all other non-RCC and non-evangelicals combined.

Jose, Martha, Rachel and Mr and Mrs NR talked about the Reason Rally. JNR and Jose talked about what direction the group should take: Should we incorporate, become part of a larger group (like CFI  or Hispanic American Freethinkers). It looks like Hispanic American Freethinkers is a registered non-profit.

JNR talked about politics as well. The Republican Party has been trying to get Latinos into their party on the assumption that Latinos are culturally conservative. But the Tea Party/Talibaptist wing of the party (which is most of it) is driving them out.

JNR said he would like to see an atheist president, but it is not a big deal to him. We decided that Jaime will be our first atheist president, as well as the first Latino president. The next meeting might be out in Aurora at Jaime’s place. His wife will put us on the straight and narrow.

Jaime 2020. Make it happen.

Image from The LatiNone

Update On Latino Atheists

I have not been to the meetings for Latino Atheists in January and February, but I made it yesterday. There were a couple of new people there. One of them was from Spain. We also talked about doing a monthly podcast. One of the new guys is a medical student and was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist. He was “volunteered” to give a presentation on Seventh Day Adventism and on abiogenesis. Jose, the leader, was in the military, and was “volunteered” for a few duties in the service.

Will anything happen? Who knows? Jaime’s wife was not there. When she is there, she lays the hammer down and stuff gets done. Correlation is not causation, but it is a strong correlation.

There Was A Latino Atheists Presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe

There was a meeting of the Latino Atheists this past weekend. I got there late.

There was a presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was recorded, and I made a few comments. So I will be on an upcoming podcast. I was told that another guy showed up. He claimed to be a shaman, and supposedly stepped out because he was losing his power. Or he just needed a cigarette.

When I know more about the podcast or about the presentation file I will post something.

Image from Latino Atheists Twitter profile


Latino Atheists Update

There was another meeting of Latino Atheists earlier today, and I was there.

There is a small, consistent group. Our webmaster implored us to post more often, so I will cross-post this on that site.

Right now the plan for next month is to give a presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe. Apparently there are no written records of the event that were written at the time. They were all written 100 years later. Our webmaster had put some links on the Latino Atheists Facebook page.

I think we will all collaborate on the content, but I will not present.

So right now our momentum is consistent. But we would like to ramp it up more.

Image from Wikipedia