One of the most ethical atheists in the world was Ed Brayton, whose blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars I used to read often. He and I did have a falling out over different views of feminism (we are both pro-feminist, he was just more radical than me) and I forgot about him for a long time. And now I have learned he is dead.
Some of you no doubt know this already, but I have decided to end my battle to the death with death. I’m entering hospice care and would like to slip into the eternal abyss in the next couple weeks. I reached the point where I simply have no fight left in me. I wish it were not so. But I have a few things to say first.
First, a profound thank you to those of you who turned this blog into a community. It has meant the world to me that it has become not merely a place for me to write, but a place where we shared ideas and values and helped fight the battles for equality, justice and liberty. Thank you all so much. Also to my fellow bloggers here. You have all added to my life immeasurably and I am forever grateful.
I’m also very grateful for an amazing group of friends and family who have gone way above and beyond to support me and love me. And to the doctors, nurses and aides who have taken care of me along the way. But it’s a time like this that makes one evaluate their life and most important beliefs. So, to that task.
I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid to die painfully and with suffering. My hope is that hospice will put me on a morphine or dilaudid drip and knock me out so I don’t feel anything, then I can just slip away. That’s essentially what happened with my dear friend Connie a few years ago. And I hope we can do it at home, as we did with her. I’d rather be with loved ones than in a facility. I’ll stay either with my best friend Rick or my parents.
Regrets? Mostly about the things I’ll never get to do now. I would love to have made Secular Quemanism a reality. Perhaps someone else can run with the idea now in my place (Mike Slomka? Bueller?) I still think it’s a great and important idea. I won’t be able to continue to advocate for humanism as an important philosophy. That sucks. I just have so much more to say and do.
My greatest hope is that after I’m gone the world continues to become more fair, just and equal. What else could we possibly hope for and work for? I urge you all to keep fighting the good fight for those core values. Who should you look to for leadership? I nominate Dale McGowan, the finest example of humanism I know, and Matt Dillahunty. They should be the public face and voice of this movement, not Dawkins or Krauss or Shermer.
Don’t be sad about this, be hopeful. I got to make the decision myself and spare others from that awful task. I did it while still of sound mind, if not body. That means the world to me. I maintained my self-determination until the end.
In closing, let me just say thank you again. You made my life better, richer and more fulfilled and who could ask for more? Goodbye, one and all. I will miss you as I hope you will miss me. Be good to each other along this incredible journey.
P Z Myers, who I was once also a fan of and later came to dislike, paid tribute to Brayton.
Ed Brayton and I had some contentious disagreements back in the day, but we managed to put all that behind us and set up the Freethoughtblogs network with a mutual understanding that we needed something beyond the atheist movement, some kind of organization that would support diversity and social justice and not just tearing down religion. He named the network — we agreed that we didn’t want “atheist” anywhere in our label, even if we were effectively an atheist group, because even then the word was getting tainted — and he and I together made the initial investment in the site. We owe a lot to Ed.
Unfortunately, he’s also suffered from serious health problems over the years, and left the network he built to run a blog on Patheos. This was an amicable decision with zero drama behind the scenes or in front of it — he just decided that he couldn’t cope with the day-to-day chores of management, and just wanted a space where he could write with no pressure.
His health has worsened. He’s been in and out of hospitals for a while. People have been asking me how he’s doing, since his postings have become intermittent, and I don’t know either! Unfortunately, he just posted this to Facebook:
I’m giving up and calling in hospice. I just can’t do this anymore. To those who know me in real life I love you and I’m sorry. I did my best.
He always has done his best, and he will be missed.
Next Sunday, 27 September, we’ll be remembering the life of Ed Brayton in a conversation.
If any of you would like to share a few words, write to me and I can send you a link. If you’d rather not make a direct appearance, show up and leave a comment in the chat — I’ll read some of them into the record.
Again, I had disagreements with both of them, but these were minor; I never considered either of them to be as treacherous and dangerous as someone like Thunderf00t, Wahid Azal, or others on my enemies list.
Rest in power, noble warrior for truth and justice. Those skeptics and progressive activists who live after you will continue the fight.