HFFC was ready to rock with the solar eclipse

John Levin, left, soaks in the solar eclipse Monday at The SoNo Seafood dock during a Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County (HFFC) party.

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The Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County held its weekly Eclipse Watch Party yesterday afternoon, Aug. 21, at The Sono Seafood Restaurant, on Water Street in Norwalk.

There were a few surprises. After all that hype, the Eclipse actually showed up.  Why is that a surprise? Well, we rely on folks like scientists, NASA astrophysicists, engineers and so forth, to inform us about these things. And if we can’t rely on them for being truthful and accurate about things like climate change, why in the heck should we trust them for an Eclipse? Huh?

In any case, the Eclipse happened. And we were ready: HFFC co-founder and president, Cary Shaw, of Norwalk, sourced 90 pairs of ISO certified viewing glasses, which were shared free of charge among our members, their guests, new folks, and frankly everyone who happened to be at the restaurant with us (about 130, I think, including lots of kids).  The glasses filter out 100 percent of UV light and infrared light, and 99.99 percent of visible light. so they allowed for direct viewing of the sun for brief periods without harm.  And the sun and the moon put on quite a show, starting at about 1 pm and continuing until about 4 pm. Maximum coverage was about 70% – still quite spectacular when viewed through the eclipse viewing glasses.

“I’m impressed by the fun-loving, intellectually curious, and helpful people we’ve been able to attract” said Shaw. “By the way, we were asked if we could change the eclipse to a more convenient time during the week. We tried prayer, lighting candles, and special dances, but nothing seemed to work.”

A few people asked (1) who are the Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, and (2) why were we having this party.

Number one is easy: we are an organization of local people who identify as non-religious, and who get together to share community, learning, and discussions, often related to science, history, and culture, or eating and drinking.  Our core values are compassion and reason. Besides parties and other events, we have a monthly MeetUp on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at the Silver Star Diner in Norwalk. Anyone is welcome, and you can find out more at: www.meetup.com/hffcct.

Number two, why we had this party, is a bit more nuanced.  Here’s the HFFC’s official statement:

The Steering Committee (basically a “high counsel” of sorts) of the Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County met in late July to discuss what to do in light of [sic] the impending solar eclipse.  We considered several options, including:

  1. Sacrifice Babies — the sun is going away? Surely this must be some type of divine retribution for something we’ve done that god, or various gods, consider to be wrong or otherwise inappropriate. How can they be appeased so that the sun can be restored to its natural splendor and the earth avoid doom? Like other peoples in the past (we know you’re out there, Carthaginians!) we thought sacrificing babies, among our most precious things, might be a good way to get the gods to settle down and give us the sun back.
  2. Mass Suicide — there’s simply no appeasing these gods, the earth is doomed, and it’s best just for all of us to take our lives together and end it quickly.
  3. Get Religion — quickly pick one of the thousands of religions that humans have turned to during the past five thousand years or so, and hope that the one we pick works to get us out of this pickle.
  4. Rob Homes — because the eclipse is a rare event (the last one observable in North America was June 8, 1918, and the next won’t be until 2045), and it will appear in some places in the US as a total eclipse of the sun, many Americans have chosen to take the opportunity to travel for better viewing to places like Hopkinsville, KY or Casper, WY.  That’s great, because it means they won’t be home! What better time to cruise through some of the wealthier neighborhoods of Fairfield County and rob empty homes?
  5. Hang Out With Friends — An eclipse is just a natural event, and will be fun to view (safely) with friends for the brief time it can be observed here in CT.


The Steering Committee held a lengthy and heated debate over which of these options to choose. Finally, reason won out (again!) and we elected to go with #5.

. . . as it turns out, #5 was a great choice. Special thanks goes to the owners and crew at SoNo Seafood, who were excellent hosts, serve great food and delicious cold beer, among other excellent imbibables (is that a word?).  However, if this sentiment is not mutual, and SoNo Seafood doesn’t want us back for the next eclipse, we may have to give option #4 a try.

John Levin



james gallacher August 22, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Being snarky and diminishing a group you view as beneath you is really not a good way to attract more people to your group. Science and Faith are not ‘all or nothing’ according to the Catholic Church. Science informs Faith, which you would know if you did even the minimum amount of research.

Fine – you’re not religious. that’s fine with me. But maybe when you’re trying to persuade people to join you in what you consider an enlightened position you do so without making fun of anyone else.

Your assertion that you have chosen to rely on scientists to inform your opinion means you don’t really know what you don’t know. sounds a lot like faith, doesn’t it?

John Levin August 22, 2017 at 4:21 pm

James, thanks for reading, and I appreciate your comments. As it happens, no one is trying to pursuade anyone about anything. People who join our group do so because they already identify as secular. No persuasion is necessary. Besides, we would much rather advertise who we are than who we are not.

With respect to your assertions about science and faith – we disagree. I view science as a method for understanding the natural world, based on evidence, reason, and analysis. Faith, on the other hand, is belief without evidence. With respect to the catholic church – I just don’t know enough to comment. It’s been in business for two thousand years, so there’s a lot there. The only religion specifically,mentioned in the story in the story I wrote is the Carthaginians.

As for snarky – yeah, that is how I roll. It’s not for everyone. I don’t seek to offend any individuals. But frankly, I think having discussions about science and faith is better than not having them.

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