Sometime in early November, 2009, an atheist friend of mine on the now-defunct Experience Project website directed me over to a relatively new site called Atheist Nexus. There, EVERYONE was an atheist, and you didn’t have to worry about believers crashing the party and constantly trying to convert you. Gee, I thought, I should have a look, and I did, and what I found was a lively, vital community of freethinkers who had no problem with stating their points of view in boldface.

Cool, I thought, and it wasn’t very long after that I published my first piece, relating my own atheism to my love of classical music, including religious music. Shock and amazement, I got all sorts of responses, which doesn’t hurt the old ego at all. Not very long after that came the shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas and we all learned the name Nidal Malik Hasan. The clear relationship between Hasan, Islam, and that tragedy all but demanded some form of commentary and therewith came my first-ever blog. Over 170 have followed after, most of which I can say I’m pretty proud of.

There have been a lot of changes in the intervening time. Huge discussions on everything from climate change to circumcision to the politics of skepticism. I came here one year into the presidency of a black man until three Novembers ago, whereupon we shifted abruptly from a thoughtful constitutional scholar to a narcissistic, blithering idiot who seems to be determined to take down our democracy any way he can. During this arc, I got an online education in atheism and people I had never heard of before, with names like Dawkins and Harris and Dillahunty and Andrews and Ra. I discovered a brilliant British-born American contrarian by the name of Christopher Hitchens, whose encyclopedic understanding and rapier wit skewered opponent after opponent in discussions and debates. And then we all lost him, and while we grieved that loss, to one degree or another, we recognized the legacy he had left, not just in his books and YouTube videos but in us, in how we approached our own atheism and how we approached others with it. We owe him so very much.

A|N has changed too, in ways obvious and subtle, from the original visual format which in places could be downright garish down to the cleaner, sparer layout we know today. Sadly, our contributing population has suffered a similar winnowing as well, from who knows how many members in 2009 down to a hardcore bunch of nutcases who continue to hang in with this place, for its familiarity and our investment in it, both monetary and written, and absolutely for the close, dear friends we have made in the process. A lot of the growth I’ve experienced in the decade past I can credit to them in what they have brought to this place and what they have taught me. That value is incalculable to me.

Indeed, what a long, strange trip it has been from here to there. How much longer it’ll hang in, I have no idea, but I mean to hang in with it … because I think it’s worth it.

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Comment by Joan Denoo on November 17, 2019 at 3:47pm

Ruth, I agree, feelings evoke emotions in different ways than words, especially for those who have little experience of reading. 

Starvation hurts!

Starving breastfeeding mom .jpg

Children suffer!

Comment by Loren Miller on November 17, 2019 at 1:23pm

Ruth, you're contributions here have been at least as vital and important as any others on Atheist Nexus.  Your ongoing commitment to A|N is greatly appreciated, and I thank you for it.

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on November 17, 2019 at 12:04pm

Speaking as an AN hardcore nutcase, thanks for sharing. I've been reading that communications, particularly in fake news, are increasingly visual. I try to illustrate my shared words, as I find text blocks tend to ignore feeling and rich detail. I do appreciate the safe space Brother Richard has created here, where participants aren't "the product".

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 17, 2019 at 12:42am

Loren, as so often happens, your words move me to warm tears of recognition and understanding the changes taking place in me as we speak our "truths" and share intimate feelings. Being a safe place to explore and experiment with ideas, this is also a place where we can be safely challenged when faulty thinking occurs. Learning how to recognize fallacies and propaganda devices makes us better problem solvers and, hopefully, better citizens. We face the harsh realities of future challenges even as those around us continue to speak of climate change as a myth. We pay attention to evidence even as we explore options, thinking outside the box.  Theist Nexus is better for your contributions; I appreciate you!

Comment by Loren Miller on November 16, 2019 at 12:15pm

Molte grazie, Frankie.  Nice to know someone ... or a few someones around here ... still finds 'em worth reading.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on November 16, 2019 at 11:41am

good scribbles Loren

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