Last night, at the Center For Inquiry West in Hollywood, was the opening night of "Cafe Inquiry," a European Cafe-style discussion with a prominent speaker from a given field. The guest speaker for their opening night was Brian Flemming, famed director of The God Who Wasn't There documentary.
The Center For Inquiry West is also home of the Steve Allen Theater, where many lectures and performances are held from a skeptical point of view. The CFI building is a very nice facility, with an outdoor patio, a bookstore, a library, and even a coffee/snack bar.
When my date and I arrived, we were warmly greeted by the Chief Operating Officer, Robert C. Ladendorf. He showed me the facility, gave me the details about Brian Flemming's appearance, and invited me to have some complimentary wine from the snack bar. Hello! I couldn't refuse free wine. What a great place!
Shortly before the discussion was to officially begin, I saw Brian Flemming talking with some people near the snack bar. Mr. Ladendorf was kind enough to introduce me to Mr. Flemming. To my semi-surprise, Brian already knew my name! He remembered me from the War On Easter mission that I did not too long ago. Brian mentioned a few specific areas of Los Angeles that he recalled me hitting, and we talked and laughed about various War On Easter missions. I then told him my story about when I went to see The God Who Wasn't There at it's first Los Angeles showing at a nearby Hollywood Theater, and how, when I was crossing the street to get to the theater, a Scientologist tried to give me a pass to see some stupid film called "L. Ron Hubbard: A Life Portrait" at the Scientology Center right next to the theater, and how I laughed in the Scientologist's face and said "Boy did you come up to the wrong guy!"
After having a nice conversation with Brian, the discussion got underway. It was mostly Q and A with some ideas being tossed back and forth. There were only about 15 people there, which made for a nice discussion-friendly atmosphere. The discussion started at 8pm. Brian discussed his aggressive atheist evangelical tactics, and the War on Easter, and many other atheistic things. The people in attendance also had a lot to say as well regarding their atheist evangelical tactics and ideas. Lots of good information all around.
Brian Flemming is a very approachable and charismatic guy. He makes a great speaker because he is disarming, friendly, and quick on his feet with his thoughts. One of the attendees even mentioned his disarming nature during the discussion, so I know I'm not the only one who got that impression.
I wanted to ask Brian a few questions, but I figured that I had all night to do so, and I was in no rush to speak up. I was honestly having a great time just listening to everyone else speak, which is somewhat unusual for me since I am an alpha-male and I tend to speak my mind quite a bit in face-to-face discussions. But then tragedy struck, and foiled my plans.
9 pm came so quickly that I didn't even realize it. My date, who is also an atheist, told me that she was getting very hungry. I was surprised because I assumed she had already eaten before coming to the discussion, but she hadn't. Now, the CFI West facility has a coffee and snack bar, but they only took cash, and we only had credit cards! For once, technology backfired on me. I really didn't want to go anywhere, but my date was insistent on getting some food. Dammit! My night with CFI and Brian Flemming was being cut short!
I stalled for about 15 minutes, but my date was losing her patience, and her stomach was growling. So at 9:15 I got ready to leave. I walked up to Robert and thanked him for a wonderful coffeehouse-style discussion, and told him that I was looking forward to stopping by again sometime soon. I grabbed my date and headed towards the exit. Brian Flemming was still in the middle of the discussion with the other guests of course, and I didn't want to interrupt them even though I wanted to tell Brian "good work!" and say goodbye personally. So on my way out the door, I looked in Brian's Direction and waved, and he saw me and waved back.
I felt like such a tool having to leave so early. I hope nobody there thought I was bored or didn't want to stay, which certainly wasn't the case! It was an all around great experience (except for the part where my date acquired an appetite).
The Center For Inquiry West is going to be having these Cafe Inquiry discussions on a monthly basis. They plan on having all kinds of prominent skeptic and atheist speakers, and the atmosphere is very friendly, inviting, and inclusive.
To any and all Kill The Afterlife readers in the Los Angeles area: I strongly encourage you to check out the Center For Inquiry West. It is at 4773 Hollywood Boulevard, two stoplights west of Vermont. Stop by and meet Robert Ladendorf, the Chief Operating Officer. He is a great guy. While you are there, pick up their flyer that lists coming attractions. Be sure not to miss the future Cafe Inquiry events, which promise to be very enjoyable. You can sign up for the email bulletins or snail mail newsletters here.
Also, for all you statists out there, Eddie Tabash is speaking on Sunday, May 7th, about the separation of Church and State. I am thinking of attending that event as well, even though I'm an anarchist, because Eddie Tabash is another great atheist who has "thrown down" with many theological big shots. I figure I may even be able to score a few points for the elimination of the State, therefore making "separation of Church and State" a moot point.