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This Week in Humanism 2018–06–10


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/10

Professor Anthony Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities at Rice University. He earned his B.A. from Columbia University, and M.Div. and Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University. He is an author, humanist, and public speaker. Also, and this is in no way a complete listing of titles or accomplishments, Pinn is the Founding Director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL) at Rice University.

Here we talk about the gender, race, humanistic aesthetics, and more.

Professor Pinn and I talked about gender, race, and humanism. I appreciated the time taken by one of the foremost humanist thinkers in America, especially for a Canadian. When I asked about the manifestations of the more restricted gender roles for men and women, I framed the question within European-American and African-American communities.

Pinn responded from a different perspective. That is, the view of gender roles cutting across the construction of race in social life. He stated, “That is to say, the restricted and restrictive nature of, say, masculinity and femininity are not defined in terms of ‘blackness’ or ‘whiteness’ but rather in terms of the larger social framework of the Western World. The difference is this: for African Americans, for instance, these restrictive gender roles are also tied to certain forms of stigma associated with race and class.”

I then asked about the humanistic outlook. The ways in which humanism may provide a broader set of possibilities for gender roles for men and women.”


“LAS VEGAS, Nev. — “If we believe in ‘deeds, not creeds,’” says Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, “then Sunday service is the least important time and place for us. What are we doing the rest of the week?””

Dr. Pinn is a professor of humanities and religion at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and, in addition, is director of research for the Institute for Humanist Studies in Washington, D.C. He holds a BA degree from Columbia University and an MDiv and PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard. Among the more than 35 books he has authored or edited are titles such as When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of RaceHumanism: Essays in Race, Religion, and Cultural ProductionWriting God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist; and the novel The New Disciples.

A generous Wikipedia entry on Dr. Pinn summarizes his background and principal concerns as a scholar and activist. He also has a site at”


“Africa has contributed to the world substantial literary, musical and cinematic works in the 20th century, with SA playing a pivotal role.

While it is often said that SA carried the hopes of democracy on the continent, what is often neglected is that the country also carried the hopes of the humanism of the anticolonial struggle in the world.

This aesthetic and philosophical contribution was the focus of a major conference in August 2017 when more than 300 scholars and arts practitioners from more than 60 humanities centres around the world attended the Humanities Improvised conference at the Castle of Good Hope, hosted by the Centre for Humanities Research of the University of the Western Cape. It marked the culmination of the first year of work of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation’s Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities awarded to the Centre for Humanities Research in 2016.”


“Humanism welcomed

Columnist Kathleen Parker is correct when she says that secularism, also called secular humanism, should be considered a religion (“A war on Catholics,” May 26). The American Humanist Association has also referred to humanism as a religion, as does the Supreme Court in Torcaso vs. Watkins in 1961.

Although the AHA rejects belief in God, it promotes a worldview that includes a belief system and moral values (moral relativism) as most religions do. As its website states, “We strive to bring about a progressive society where being good without god is an accepted and respected way to live life.”

Humanism has become pervasive in the media, education and government. Interestingly, while the Judeo-Christian tradition has largely been rejected by these institutions for constitutional and ideological reasons, the religion of humanism is welcomed.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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