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Dale McGowan: Of Babies and Bathwater

We love analogies, especially when they get us where we wanted to go anyway. One such useful phrase first popped up in a 1512 satire by a German monk named Thomas Murner. "To throw the baby out with the bath water" is to rid one’s self of a bad thing while destroying in the process whatever good there was as well. Often, we hear that the "baby" is all that is good and noble and life-affirming in religion, like frequent instructions to not kill or lie or hate. The "bathwater" is all that is ignoble and life-destroying in religion — like frequent instructions to kill and lie and hate. There's rarely a middle path, because religious sytems lack procedures for compromise. Real change is accomplished only by calving off denominations, and within a given church, it is silently implied that one must take the bad with the good, all or nothing, or risk losing the good entirely. There is something between throwing out the baby and letting it marinate endlessly in the cold and filthy water. In this lecture, author and educator Dale McGowan will talk about the baby and the bathwater, and which we should really consider keeping. Dale McGowan left a 15-year career as a college professor in 2006 to pursue writing full-time. He writes the secular parenting blog The Meming of Life, teaches nonreligious parenting seminars across the United States, and serves as executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist charitable and educational foundation based in Atlanta. In September 2008 he was named Harvard Humanist of the Year by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University. In 2009, Dale served as U.S. Communications Coordinator for Nonviolent Peaceforce, a global civilian peacekeeping organization based in Brussels. While living in Minneapolis, he was a charter member of the Critical Thinking Club, Inc. and has taught critical thinking skills in the college classroom, the corporate boardroom, and public venues. Dale holds degrees in physical anthropology and music theory from UC Berkeley as well as a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Becca, a first grade teacher, live near Atlanta with their three kids—Delaney (8), Connor (14), and Erin (12).

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Dale's a great speaker, and his talk was fascinating and funny and inspiring. Nothing but raves.

    March 21, 2011

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  • Amy M.
  • A former member
  • A former member

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