Last updated 9/25/99|
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Volume 1 Number 1 August 1999
Hello, dear reader! You hold in your hand the very first issue of the best publication ever produced. Eh... well, would you believe an okay little magazine for something done by a high school dropout? I am gratified to find that so many of you who previously enjoyed The Alabama Freethinker (TAF) still want to read something that I put out. Since the Alabama Freethought Association decided to no longer publish a newsletter I decided I would have to do something to keep from climbing the walls. (Actually, I'm still climbing the walls sometimes, struggling mightily with Word 98, and trying to force my printer -- which seems to have been possessed by the same demon that got Linda Blair -- to actually print the words on the paper.) But at least this type of wall-climbing allows me to feel -- correctly or not -- that I am being productive. One SOAR subscriber already issued a challenge to me saying, "Let's see if you lost your touch." (gulp) I suppose that remains to be seen, but just in case, I'm going to lay hands on this before taking it to the printer. In any case, I humbly thank you for giving up a bit of your time, money and energy to read SOAR. I shall do my utmost not to disappoint you.
By necessity, much of the content of this first issue is my own writing. I hope to give you plenty to respond to and comment on so that the next issue will have the opinions of several great minds to help enlighten the world. I don't have a lot of rules for SOAR (see editorial policy) since I don't want it to become a stagnant, boring thing. I would rather allow it to evolve in its own way and see what happens. Generally, I'm hoping that SOAR will be a unique blend of factual and informative articles and essays and reader opinion, mixed with bits of poetry, humor, and whatever else I can stick in it. SOAR will suvcceed or fail based entirely on the reactions of you, the reader. A publication needs at least three things to continue to exist: someone to physically put it together and distribute it, money with which to do that, and people to read it and, in this case, to participate. I can handle the first thing. You will have to do the rest.
Most of us learn that there are some things one simply does not talk about in "polit society." AMong them are religion, money, politics, and sex. While SOAR does insist on civil discourse within its pages, "polite society" it ain't! We all have opinions on issues since we are thinking people. I am one who truly enjoys the open exchange of ideas -- that's why I include the phrase "...applies critical thinking and logic to all areas of human experience" in my definition of the term "freethinker" on the front page. I hope you are as well. But one note of warning: There are some ideas, some opinions, which affect people in quite negative ways, so if you consider expressing an opinion here, SOAR can take no responsibility for the fallout that may occur from friends, family and/or employers who might read them.
Most of us like to think that we live in an enlightened era, and while that may be true to some extent, it is sadly also true that people all over the world are still tortured, killed and jailed for their opinions or who they are. The murders of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming and Billy Jack Gaither here in Alabama for being gay are examples. Perhaps less extreme and dramatic but often no less painful can be the reactions of people whom you love or consider friends. For example, most of us have read Dan Barker's account (in Losing Faith in Faith) of losing his family when they found that he had become an atheist.
SOAR is determined to follow Jefferson's advice to his nephew Peter Carr and "Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion." Let's hope we all enjoy it and learn something. --ed.