Archive for August, 2014

Under God’s Grip

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Blog, Religion

As India celebrated its 68th Independence Day, I went to attend another Nirmukta meet. I reached around five minutes late. It was delightful to see a full table of around eight who had already arrived (Usually it takes time for people to turn up). As usual, only a few faces were familiar. People were trickling in well into the discussion even after an hour or so. The total headcount rose to 23, (I had to count from the below picture) which was impressive when compared to previous meetings. After flipping through the familiar menu we placed our orders and started the customary round of introductions. It turned out that there were quite a few members who had joined the fb group recently. I wondered why there was a sudden surge in membership, but we had a different and better topic for discussion.

BFT Aug 15

Courtesy: A lady from the Coffee Day Staff who shall remain anonymous for now.

‘What makes religion so potent, that reasoning can’t change the minds of the religious?’ was the official topic for discussion. We used a shortened form though. Something on the lines of ‘persistence of religion’ from which I derived the title for this post. It was a topic most of us could relate to. Telling someone that you are an atheist, almost always sparks a discussion. The conversation started around the idea of god being seen as a watchful protector. Indoctrination from an early age, a sense of community, the want to be immortal, religion being projected as a pseudo-science, blind faith and an unwillingness to acknowledge concepts that challenge their beliefs were some of the points brought up. The debate also went off on a tangent a few times.

Though it was heartening to see a bigger group than usual, it came with a few problems. Some of the few voices were too faint to travel across the table. The music that was playing in the background was making things even worse (The staff turned it out after a request from one of the participants). A few of the more vocal members ended up dominating the discussion.

As the discussion was drawing to a close, the participants started to give suggestions for future meetings and things we could do. (If you participated in the meeting please feel free to comment on any points I may have missed)

The points raised about the meeting were:

  • Appointing a participant as a moderator, so that the discussion stays on track.
  • Having scheduled meetings on a particular day of the month.
  • Finding a better venue for holding the meetings (preferably with wheelchair access)
  • A longer time period to intimate the members of a meeting (related to the second point)

Some of the ideas proposed for the future were(I have a feeling I missed something here):

  • Reviving the magazine ‘Indian Skeptic’ (with better writing than what you see on this blog)
  • Creating a list of topics for future meetings or presentations
  • Posting links for some of the things discussed

I would appeal to those who suggested the initiatives to take charge of their respective ideas. The ideas are promising but I have seen a few plans in the past fail to take off. Belief and faith are words we normally don’t associate with, but I hope these ideas come to life and make a difference. I personally love both ideas and see a lot of promise in them. It goes without saying that the ideation process does not stop with this. More such ideas and their implementation, would make what we are doing more meaningful.

As the time started to run out, we quickly took a few pictures of the group. One by one the group got smaller as those with prior commitments started heading out. Even after the meeting officially got over with us leaving the table some of us gathered in smaller groups chatting about different topics. Seven of us carried on to a nearby restaurant for lunch, before heading out on our separate paths. Please do bring to my notice if I have missed anything. 

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