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First-Annual Bannister Family Festimas Fete

Winter 2013 will be memorable for many reasons, some awesome and some pretty lame; among the most-memorable, however, will be the First-Annual Bannister Family (of Dorr) Festimas Fete!

Here’s some context. Rewind, let’s say, a few weeks.

First off, I found myself in the thick of a series of ridonculous “controversies.” Long story short, the still-popular narrative (created by the “otherwise” untrustworthy media) screams: Paleocrat contra Christmas! For a healthy dose of reality, however, consider reading this lil’ dandy: the letter-to-the-editor of the Penasee Globe detailing my actions, my position, and my intentions. (Yeah, and a huge THANKS to Ed Brayton of FreethoughtBlogs on this one… seriously, he’s pretty much the man.)

Secondly, since leaving Christianity over three years ago, my wife and I had never seriously talked about whether or not we would continue to celebrate Christmas–much less what exactly that would consist of. (Up to this point, we’d continued the traditions of the pine tree, lighting and ornamentation, gift-sharing, feasting, music, seasonal foods and family visitations. These are things we’ve always enjoyed, and we’d never considered them to be at odds with a non-theistic worldview–not of any necessity, at least.)

Thirdly, lastly, and as a consequence of the “first off,” we were asked by many people (including members of the media) what my family does during Christmas. Here’s my quick-think short-list of (paraphrased) questions asked of me since all of this began:

Do you get mad when people say “Merry Christmas”?

If you hate Christmas so much, why don’t you leave America?

Do you celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Do you think every religion’s symbol should be in Pride Park?

What do you think about the nativity as an historical event?

Don’t you think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill?

Do you tell your kids there’s no Santa?

Is there or is there not a “War on Christmas”?

What does the Bannister family of Dorr do during Christmas?

And what of your other family members? Do they celebrate Christmas?

Do you want to fight Dorr Town Supervisor Jeff Miling?

Why are you bullying an innocent old grandma?

What are your thoughts about New Life Church of Wayland getting in on this controversy?

Within these questions are a number of rather deep and difficult considerations, especially for a family man with a legendary wife, four rockin’ kids, and a bunch of people curiously curious about our household traditions during the winter holiday season.

So what’s a man to do? (Nay, what did this man do?)

Well, here’s the deal: I’m pretty damn tired. (No, for real, I’m passing out while tyyyyyyyyyypiiiiiiiiiiiing!!!!!!  jf9uaw4jnv4q02…) So I’ll take myself a quick nap and get back with everyone.

In the meantime, consider the questions above for yourself.

PS – My super-secret plan: make two-minute videos tackling a number of these questions individually, finishing with a fun description of the Bannister family of Dorr’s newest family tradition: the Bannister Family Festimas Fete! No rush… like I said, after my nap. Gives you enough time to contact the fam and the kiddos, letting them know that Dorr’s Evening Emperor is about to lay down the hammer.

Happy holidays, and all that jazz…

Open Letter to Rep. Kate Segal; Sponsor of Michigan’s ‘Religious Absence’ Bill

Dear Rep. Segal,

I was reading up on the new ‘religious absence bill‘, HB 4454 a bill that you have sponsored, and I was wondering if there was anything in that bill that contained protections/exceptions for secular/non-religious children who might miss school for non-religious reasons to be able to still not have their absences counted against their ‘perfect attendance’ status?

There are many legitimate agencies, organizations, functions, celebrations and activities that are secular that students may wish to attend or participate in, so I would hope that somewhere in the bill there is protection for these students also.

I strongly believe in the freedom of religion, and I also believe in the freedom FROM religion. I have no problem supporting a bill like this so long as there is also a section that protects secular students along with religious students. By leaving secular students out of this bill, it is giving preferential treatment to that of organized religion, and I really do not think that is the right thing to do, nor is the role of the government. It appears as if government is taking a side in the religious debate and giving special privileges to those of faith and to me that is VERY wrong.

I understand that life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we have to go as far away from fair as possible. I think by allowing secular students the same rights to have excused absences for secular events/activities is helping to bridge that gap and bring things closer to fair and equal as possible.

I am writing this because I believe you are a one of the few open minded and fair politicians that we have and I know that with this bill you mean well, but as a secular person; it appears to give special privileges to those of faith as opposed to secular individuals and we both know that whenever one group of people is treated different than another, you have inequality and oppression and I hope and I do not think those are traits that you stand for.

Please consider drafting or adding some sort of clause that would protect secular and non-religious students also.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, I would be glad to be of assistance.


Autumn Smith

Battle Creek, Michigan


*A version of this letter was sent to Rep. Segal via email and facebook on May 2nd, 2013

TOMORROW’S LECTURE: “The Art of Arguing,” Jeremiah Bannister


GRAND RAPIDS – At 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 21, 2013, I’ll be lecturing about “The Art of Arguing” at Schuler Books & Music on Alpine Ave. NW in Walker, Michigan–just outside Grand Rapids. The lecture is part of “Cafe Inquiry,” a weekly get-together hosted by Center for Inquiry, Michigan.

SUMMARY – How is it that arguments about politics and religion can go any and every which way for hours on end, only to conclude with the ceasefire of, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree”? Why are so many political partisans and religious sectarians unable to think beyond their talking points, speaking past–if not shouting over!–one another on issues both great and small? More importantly, what are people to do in an effort to better understand, communicate, and coexist with those who happen to disagree with them?

To answer these questions, it would do us well understand:

1. Moral foundations and metaphors come first, reasons and evidences second. These foundations and frames, even more than reasons and evidences, both form and inform world- and life-views.

2. Humans are both reasonably and unreasonably groupish, and this groupishness–in tandem with a wide range of biases–plays a significant role in formation of their beliefs and practices.

3. Conversations about politics and religion are less a matter of pinning the tail on the donkey as they are of chasing the wildest of wild geese.

4. No matter what you believe, no matter how sound your reasons or how solid your evidences, people will disagree with you… and they aren’t going away any time soon.

The event begins at 10 a.m. and will be followed by Q&A and open discussion. After this, everyone is invited to join us for food, coffee and conversation at the cafe! It’s always a great time, and the coffee/food is delicious!

EVENT PAGE: “The Art of Arguing,” by Jeremiah Bannister

DIRECTIONS: Schuler Books & Music in Walker, Michigan.

CONTACT: If you have questions or comments, or if you’d like to contact me regarding a possible speaking engagement, you’re welcome to email me at You may also message me on Facebook or send a DM on Twitter.

Day 45 – Confronting Reality

Today on PaleoRadio:
Guest: Ed Brayton

Pat Buchanan fired – rightly so; Romney’s recent campaign ad; Obama’s supposed war on religion; ‘What is a progressive?’; Santorum out to lunch on birth control; Jessica Ahlquist’s courageous stand against prayer banner in a public school; and Ed Brayton on religion, culture, politics and his new show on PublicRealityRadio, WPRR.

More about Ed Brayton:
Journalist, Editor, Comedian, Commentator, Blogger – are among the hats Brayton wears. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN. He is also the owner of the Freethought Blogs network, the president and co-founder of Michigan Citizens for Science, and the voice behind the popular blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

He is a fellow with the non-profit organization Center for Independent Media, and the co-founder of Michigan Citizens for Science. He is the host of Culture Wars Radio on WPRR.

Jessica Hollie
Oakland resident Jessica Hollie spoke to Oakland City Council and Mayor Jean Quan on how she feels about Occupy Oakland, and the city’s effort to pass a resolution increasing police violence in order to prevent future port blockades. We invited Jessica to join us on the air, we are not sure why she did not called but hope to have you on in the future.

Jessica Hollie’s speech can be viewed here:

Download links coming soon!

Day 34: On Nation Under Mammon

Guest: David Silverman

Topics: Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood; Glitter bombs, Santorum compares sick children to ipad consumers; Right to work, market mystics and cheap labor conservatives; and David Silverman talks about the upcoming Reason Rally and atheism

Due to technical difficulties, the audio for Day 34 is not available.