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New Meetup: Picnic/potluck and discussion in Barnsdall Park.

From: Alexandra
Sent on: Monday, September 20, 2010 8:44 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Free Thinkers (LA & SoCal)!

What: Picnic/potluck and discussion in Barnsdall Park.

When: Sunday, September 26,[masked]:00 PM

Where: Barnsdall Park
4814 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

First things first (it has been my experience that some people will read only the beginning of the description and never get to the end of it). Since most of us are on a budget, I thought that a potluck would be better than meeting in a restaurant. Please bring food to share! Also, it's highly recommended to bring a folding chair or a blanket to sit on. OK, now that I go this out of the way, I'll move on to the subject of our discussion, which will be:

Religious toleration - have we made much progress in the last 300 years?

In 1721 Montesquieu?s satirical work, ?Persian Letters?, captured the mind of French reading public. While there are many parallel themes running through ?Persian Letters? and many interesting questions being raised, there?s one theme that, in my opinion, directly relates to the purpose of this group. Montesquieu captured the mentality of small-minded people in the words of a Frenchmen who, upon finding out that Rica was a Persian, asks, incredulously, ?How can anyone be a Persian??

And here comes a question that I invite you to discuss in our next meeting. Has the humanity made much progress in eradicating bigotry and blind prejudice against people who are different during three centuries that separate us from Montesquieu?s time?

Of course, it is hard to imagine anyone in United States today would ask ?How can anyone be a Persian?? (or any other nationality). This sort of thinking is (hopefully) a thing of the past. Surely, there are racists, but they know that racism is not cool anymore and so usually they keep their racism to themselves. And yet, thinking ?How can anyone be a Muslim (or an atheist, or a Wiccan)??, is not that uncommon, even if not necessarily asked out loud. Sadly, some people tend to condemn other people?s beliefs without making a slightest effort to understand them.

You are invited to break the greatest social taboo of our times, namely, the prohibition against ?talking about religion?. Yes, let?s talk about religion! The only rules are:

? you are here to understand others, NOT to attempt to convert them;
? be prepared to listen to others attentively and respectfully;
? please refrain from blanket condemnations, such as ?all Muslims mistreat women?, ?all atheists are immoral?, etc.

"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking." ~ Leo Tolstoy

Bring you thoughts, a dish to share, a blanket and a folding chair (sorry, I repeat myself) and an open mind (I don't mean to underestimate the importance of a dish to share, but the last item is probably the most important one smile.) There are stairs that lead from the parking lot up the hill and into a nice, shady area, with a beautiful view.

If the weather is very bad (not very likely), I'll change to place to a nearby cafe. See you there!

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