Summary

Workshop Number: 100
Leaders: Tom Kunesh
Who May Register?: Open to All
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 15%
Lecture: 35%
Discussion: 50%

Who May Attend?
part-time attenders welcome (can come any session)

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce friends to alternative ways of understanding atheism, and to introduce ways in which atheism can be used to understand, interrogate and criticize religion’s collaboration with Empire, especially its characteristics of racism, sexism, classism, and to ‘see’ our new cultural gods.


Workshop Description

‘Non-theism’ is as good a socially neutral term as Huxley’s ‘agnosticism’, but it also contains the same amount of energy to better the world, ie, none. Using these words to interpret the world is, as Marx said, dead. The real goal, as among Friends, is to change it, to improve it. Theism as a collaborative process has a goal – dominion, expressed over millennia in text and actions. Christianity’s alliance with the Roman Empire in 325 ce, with the British Empire and the American Empire, have made christian theology synonymous with the privilege of empirical power. As Friends wrestling with the racist, sexist, classist and earth-exploiting effects of religious domination in collaboration with Empire, atheism offers a liberating corrective into de-dominionizing … decolonizing theologically, and de-theizing from the old ethnic gods of Empire and the new gods of materialism, capitalism, security, nationalism.  

Non-theism is a generic cover-term for many kinds of beliefs that do not focus on a personal god or ultimate god-based purpose.  Atheism has served since at least Socrates’ time in Europe as an external check against religious & governmental (‘church-state) domination, and antagonist to Empire alliances with Theology. Nontheist ‘Western’ thinkers Marx, Freud & Durkheim of the 19th century saw more reason behind and purpose to religion than their contemporary atheists & agnostics. Nontheist ‘Eastern’ thinkers and Turtle Island practitioners have also developed ways of understanding atheistic purpose within religion. For Friends to recognize the good in every person, we should explore what possible goods atheism has for weekly communities of mostly foreign-american settlers on indigenous land that knew nothing of Christianity 500 years ago. 

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce friends to alternative ways of understanding atheism, and to introduce ways in which atheism can be used to understand, interrogate and criticize religion’s collaboration with Empire, especially its characteristics of racism, sexism, classism, and to ‘see’ our new cultural gods.

minutes / daily

 5 meditation 

15 small-group check-in

20 presentation 

 5 meditation 

10 silent writing – thoughts & responses

—-

55

15 break

—-

70

20 small-group sharing 

15 large-group sharing

 5 meditation

 5 tomorrow’s focus & materials

 5 meditation

—–

50

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120     (2 hours)

monday   intro to Marx, Freud, Durkheim, atheism of suspicion

tuesday   intro to Diné, Shyamalan, & folktales of power

wensday  intro to Empire, colonization, deconstruction, decolonization, indigenization

thursday  intro to collaboration with Empire

friday      putting it all together


Leader Experience

I led interactive workshops on atheism & religious history at UU summer gatherings 30 years ago. I gave one presentation & co-led one workshop at the 2021 Gathering online. 
For 7 years i used to teach spanish at the university, then at my daughter’s elementary Montessori school, all of which were very interactive & participatory. (Then i quit teaching & focused on raising kids.). This past year i co-led a Decolonizing Quakers Gathering 1 may 2021 workshop with Alyssa Nelson of Decolonizing Quakers, and a 2-hour workshop on Future of Friends of Color with Emma Turcotte at FGC Gathering on 2 july.  I currently lead a 2-part monthly Decolonization workshop with the Southern Movement Assembly’s Freedom & Survival School ‘Hot D.A.M.! (Decolonization, Abolition, MutualAid). 

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