Speaking in Grand Rapids, MI May 28, 2011

Speaking in Grand Rapids, MI

I’ll be giving a talk in Grand Rapids soon and you’re all invited!

Where: Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI

When: Wednesday, June 8th, at 7:00p.

Cost: $6.00 for general admission and free for Friends of the Center.

More information can be found here.

If you don’t attend, I’ll spend the first 20 minutes of the talk sitting in the fetal position, sucking on my thumb.

You don’t want to be the cause of that, do you…?

***Edit***: Grand Rapids sounds awesome:

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  • Larry Meredith

    I’d pay $6 to watch you sitting in the fetal position sucking your thumb for 20 minutes.

  • RTH



  • JD

    Does anyone know that street well? How is the parking?

  • siveambrai

    @JD It’s okay. I don’t think there is any directly on that road but there are a bunch of avenues off of it that allow for parking in less than a block’s walk.

    Also, if I am remembering correctly from the time I lived there, the building isn’t super large so if you would like to attend I would suggest purchasing tickets early.

  • Vanessa

    Booo. I am working then. 🙁

  • coyotenose

    To expand on what Larry said, video of Hemant doing this, marketed appropriately, could easily provide enough Camp Quest funds to overwhelm and crush even Team PZ.

    Just sayin’. Think of the children.

    Wait, that came out wrong.

  • Greg

    You should check out this video of Grand Rapids.


  • Richard Wade

    That video was astounding.

  • Tiffany

    FYI-The Women’s City Club has a parking lot on a side street. 🙂 It’s near Lafayette and Washington, I believe. CFI-MI’s lectures are held in the downstairs auditorium. And I look forward to seeing everyone there. I’ll be the one with a 4 year old in tow.

  • Ali

    And now I am completely geeking out! I live in Grand Rapids to go to school, and I live less than half a mile from this place. This is great, can’t wait for the 8th!

  • TGAP Dad

    I used to live and work in Grand Rapids, and I can assure you that it is anything but awesome. For those of you who aren’t familiar, GR forms the Eastern vertex of a triangle roughly bound by Muskegon and Holland in the west. Within this triangle lies Michigan’s bible belt. It is for all intents and purposes, run by the church. And not just any church, but the christian reformed church – an offshoot of the dutch reformed church, famous for being a major slave importer until the 18 century. As an unapologetic (but low-key) atheist living there was a continuous, sickening stream of church-ness. Day in and day out. including blue laws. I’d rather be stretched over burning coals and raped by hyenas than move back.

  • JD

    TGAP Dad, when was your life there? Sounds more like a description of 20 years ago than now.

  • TGAP Dad

    @JD: Actually, it was almost exactly 20 years ago. I had a brief stint at Meijer, and left in the fall of 1991.

    I also know a guy who bought a house in Zeeland, only to have three neighbors chew him out when he mowed the lawn on his first Sunday there. Delightful folks over there, too.

  • Former Resident

    Prepare yourself, unlike TGAP who left quite a while ago, I left the city more recently largely due to my perception of its intolerant attitude towards anyone who is not Christian Reformed or Dutch. I am neither and I am also gay. As a gay teen, high school was a complete disaster for me. Even though I had plenty of support from my parents, the community that I had to be a part by default made sure I felt ostracized. College at GVSU was better but it was still pretty well isolated, out in a corn field, away from the rest of the world and not all that connected. DeVos, Meijer, Cook and few other conservative moguls own the town and the minds of it’s residents (since they employ most of them). The excellent lip-dub by clearly a more progressive sub-set of residents not withstanding, GR is a cesspool of religion and passive aggressive intolerance and I’m glad I got out when I had the chance. After growing up there, I would not choose to raise my family there and I can only hope that statement provokes you to question your audience as to why people like me (an educated gay atheist, fully capable of contributing to the economic interests of ANY community) when finally given the opportunity, chose to flee the city rather than stay and make it better. Granted, this is only my experience and I can only speak for myself and my own experiences but it seems to me that for a metro area exceeding 500,000 residents, some level of noticeable diversity and tolerance should be visible. It never was to me. By the way, I moved to a small town in Northern Michigan and have found by contrast a vibrant community that is well balanced between religious folk and non religious folk and far more tolerant of gay people than I had ever experienced growing up in Grand Rapids. It turned out to be a good move for me and I don’t regret packing up my life and moving one bit even though it was a considerable sacrifice financially to do so. I’m doing better here than I ever could have done in Grand Rapids. Good luck, I’m a big fan of your work, keep it up!

  • TheNP

    So long as your near the city core it isn’t that bad. Or Eastown. The Boonie areas, like Zeeland, are still pretty bad.

  • Lady Hawke

    Grand Rapids has a pretty active Center For Inquiry group. Meetings every Sunday in the bookstore with interesting and varied topics, beer nights, volunteer days- nice people. Also, due in part to the addition of a large research institution just over 10 years ago there has been an increase in the number of well educated sciencey-types from all over the world. Not a huge influx, but an uptick. Gotta start somewhere. I’ll be at the talk. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll have my teenage daughters in tow. I’ve not yet fully indoctrinated them into my nutjob feministic atheism. This will dovetail nicely with that education.

  • JD

    Holland and Zeeland might still be pretty bad in that respect.

    BTW: GVSU has a decent campus in downtown GR now. Seems like they’ve been there for 10 years, I’m not sure.

  • Tiffany

    well-I must say I guess my family is an anomaly. We MOVED to Michigan from the Washington D.C. area-mainly so my husband could attend culinary school. And, yes-while there is much intolerance towards the non-religious–things are changing. I’m pretty actively involved with Center For Inquiry in Grand Rapids, and it provided a wonderful community for me when I moved to this area. It was a total culture shock coming from D.C to an area where the first question out of many ppl’s mouths was “so what church are you going to?”
    Center For Inquiry Michigan has become my community and has led to many wonderful friendships.
    While Grand Rapids is not perfect, I sense change-more tolerance, more acceptance, esp. from the college age crowd. Don’t make assumptions about the city before you visit it for a little while, talk to residents, explore things off the beaten path.
    I’ve had wonderful opportunity here, despite being very much an out of the closet atheist. Things change, and the more your actions reflect your personal values, the more we show that we aren’t scary amoral people, the more we can change opinion and make others more willing to accept difference, even here in the random loop of the bible belt that is Michigan. 🙂

    Just saying.

  • TGAP Dad

    @Tiffany: FWIW, I have lived in Michigan my whole life, from the farthest corner of the U.P. to the last place you see before Ohio, and I can assure you that nowhere else in Michigan do you get asked about church affiliation as an introductory question. That’s a purely GR (and Holland, Zeeland, etc.) thing.

  • siveambrai

    If you’ve never been in GR I would highly (HIGHLY) recommend eating at San Chez (tapas) and going out to HopCats. Both were favorites of mine during the time I lived there.

  • Ditto on San Chez and the HopCat. Marie Catrib’s and the Electric Cheetah are also incredibly awesome.

    Neighborhoods like Heritage Hill, East Hills, and Eastown are pretty progressive, since a large amount of college students live there. Also, when the organization Truth Wins Out organized a counter-proest of Exodus International, the mayor of Grand Rapids, George Heartwell came and spoke. Several nuns who live at the Marywood Dominican center were arrested for writing antiwar slogans on missile siloes–in their own blood.

    That said, GR certainly is a *very* religious community, and many of the area colleges (CAlvin, Kuyper, Aquinas, Grace, Cornerstone) are religious, which has lead to issues. Aquinas has terminated several guest lecturers who support gay marriage.

    As for the Rob Bliss video–i found it to be a little too deprived of melanin.

  • zachofalltrades

    I’m slightly torn…I can’t miss the opportunity to see Hemant, but my wife has a huge crush on him, so I’m a little bit afraid for his safety with her in the crowd…

    (and @Tiffany – fantastic! I’ll be the one with a six year old in tow) 🙂

  • Mike

    Sounds like a lot of fun. Is there a formal or otherwise event planned on either side of the talk? Like food or drink? Could be a lot of fun!

    I’m so excited!

  • @Mike — Not to my knowledge, but if there is, it’ll be on the Facebook event page!

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