Who’s your papa?

Let me get something straight right from the start…

Men-folk are welcome here!  Please don’t let the name “mama” scare you off. SocraticMama is not a blog about motherhood.  Sure, I’m bound to muse about laundry and applesauce at some point, but I promise it won’t be often.

So, what’s in a name?

Initially, I wanted to call the site “The Socratic Sandbox.”  I liked the communal and fun sound of that, but I thought it might give you this image:

(Kittah dedicated to Dr. Jerry Coyne @ whyevolutionistrue)

Then I drempt up “Socrates’s Mother,” but that was too long and it had that nasty little apostrophe “s” in the url.

A friend suggested “SocraticMama.”  It is short, sweet, and simple- easy to remember and to type so it stuck.

Socrates compared his role as a teacher to his mother Phaenarete’s profession of mid-wife.  He said that like a mid-wife he did not create anything new, but only assisted others to give birth to their own ideas.  So, if you are here with a creative or clever notion in your noggin then you are ergo a SocraticMama!

Today let’s celebrate the important men in our lives.  Write a nice comment about a male family member, teacher, coach, friend, or celebrity who has inspired you.  Just a few sentences if you are pressed for time, but longer stories and anecdotes would be wonderful to read as well.  Don’t forget to send your special fellow the link to the comments page so he can read online just how fabulous he is!

(Comments are not restricted to women.  Men can write about great guys, too)

Who do you love?




About Anne Crumpacker

I like to read. I also like science, art and drama. I like really big numbers, but I don’t understand them. I like kids and being silly, but sometimes I feel serious and that’s when I like thinking BIG THOUGHTS. You can visit me @ SocraticMama.com
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17 Responses to Who’s your papa?

  1. Phaenarete says:

    I would like to thank:
    Mr. Christopher Hitchens for his inspiration.

    Dr. Jerry Coyne at the University of Chicago for his support the past few weeks. http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

    My anonymous English knight who has guided me through this cyber-chaos.

    And my husband who is my best friend.

  2. james says:

    Proud to remember my dad, who taught me lots, including that there’s ALWAYS another perspective.

  3. Lisa says:

    One day when I was at school, the assistant headmaster was passing by in the hall, and he asked me how I was doing. I replied, “Very well, how are you?” and he flew off the handle. “I doubt very much that you are doing very well,” he scoffed. “Do make a habit of being honest and not glib in your responses. NOw try again.” “All right,” I said, “I am miserable.” “Ah!” he said. “Now we have something to talk about!” We talked often after that and I grew to admire him greatly. He taught me how to think, not what to think, and shaped the way in which I interact with others. I will never forget him and I wish he was still alive so I could thank him. I doubt that he realized what a profound effect he had upon my development. Later, I adopted some of his methods while home-schooling one of my sons, with much success.

  4. Micho says:

    Never tried to email him, since I’m not one for stalking. So I came across this site, and I send this one out to Hitch. About two years ago, I went through a divorce and death of my father within a few months. Oh woe is me. Along with the economic trend, things seemed bleak. Then, I started to read. I’d always sought out the higher power, and thought, why not read the big book again, it might help, right? Then on another forum, Mr. Hitchens was introduced to me. Googled him and found “god is not great.” Voila, the answers I’d so long looked for, the power to break through my slump, the clarity, and yes, the epiphany…ha ha. After reading that book, I figured out, what I’d been looking for, and what I could never find was within me. The power to stand on my own two feet, and continue learning and growing without big brother on my shoulder, or ghosts from the past.

    So thank you Sir (tip of the hat).

  5. silveroak77 says:

    My grandfather, who is a retired teacher and principal and a proud atheist. He is the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. He sees a small patch of blue sky and says “What a wonderful day!” We also have known him to say “It doesn’t get any better than this!” almost every time when we are all together for a family dinner or event.

    He is 86 years old and has had cancer, heart attacks (with surgery) and other health issues in the past but is still going strong. He has been a wonderful role model to me in so many ways. My dad has been a great inspiration to me as well, and my husband would make this list too. I am fortunate to have many wonderful men in my life!

  6. David says:

    Some male heroes:
    my Son Leo, David Deida, ‘Uncle’ Dan, Scott Duschene, Rob, dean, Doug, joe, eric, tim and the Steves, Gord

  7. Jo S Wun says:

    In my early twenties, not long after my father died, I attended a course teaching Vipassana meditation. I’d walked away from Catholicism in my teens, but I suppose I was still looking for something magical to fill the void (one made bigger by losing my dad).

    It was a week-long residential course in a country manor house. The guru guy was pretty much what you’d expect – robes and beads, and stories designed to help you find enlightenment (it was the first time I heard the ‘glass half full or half empty’ thing).

    The meditation itself was pretty good – no mantras, chanting or any of that stuff. Just concentrating on breathing. Be that as it may, towards the end of the week, we were given the opportunity to have a one-on-one session with the guru, in his rooms. I felt it was an opportunity not to be missed so came up with something to ask him.

    I can’t remember what my question was – just something I made up which I thought sounded good. It was really just an excuse to talk directly with him. He sat, cross-legged, on his cushion, and watched me as I asked my question. When I was done, he sat, silent, for quite a while, then he raised one cheek, and loudly farted!

    To this day I don’t know if he was a really cool guy (I can’t even remember if he had any words of wisdom to go with his fart), or just an ill-mannered slob. But it did teach me to think carefully about the value of questions I ask of people.

  8. Michael Fisher says:

    Who do you love?

    There’s no one ~ there’s no special fellow. In my early days I thought I had heroes, but this Michael today hardly recognises his own younger self. The world is a far too complex place now for it to be wise or sensible to place a few people above all others. I just watched the Dawkins/Hitchens video over at RDnet & The Hitch expressed the same view ~ that gods, prophets & heroes are for children & it’s time for us to grow out of it.

    And to do without is a burden removed. Over at Miranda Celeste’s place she has a video posted entitled: Reading two of W.B. Yeats’s poems [she does a fine reading] ~ this week I will visit with him & Robert Frost & John Clare. Next week ~ who knows!?

    [I think I subverted your post a little Anne ~ but this is the most honest answer I can give]

    • Phaenarete says:

      You did indeed subvert the post, you cheeky monkey, but it is a fair criticism. I’ll freely admit to being pretty starstruck the last few weeks. It reminds me of a story that I’d like to share. During the question and answer session with Dawkins and Hitchens at the Texas Freethought Convention Amanda Knief of the Secular Coalition for America asked Christopher Hitchens a question. I don’t remember the actual question or his response, but I Knief’s lead in to her question was wonderful.
      She told Hitchens that she had met him before at a book signing and she was pleased to have a second opportunity to ask him a question. Apparently, at the book signing she gushed to Hitchens that she was a “big fan.” He said something like, “Stop. What is the root word?” Knief replied, “Fanatic?” Hitchens said, “Yes. Next time have a better question.”
      You may have seen Amanda Knief as President Obama a question during a televised town hall meeting. Watch the looks on both Obama’s and Knief’s faces as the President struggles to answer her question. It is hilarious:

      Amanda is looking for people to help her lobby for secular America. You can contact her via the Secular Coalition for America website:

  9. Chris says:

    I’m supposed to be working, but I’m trawling through your new (but marvellous) site. I’m a stay-at-home dad in the UK looking for ways to bring my children up to question, well, everything I suppose. They certainly seem to question every day whether they ever need to listen to me… My great frustration is that my daughter (6) is being taught about god at school, and I’m trying to find ways of encouraging my daughter to question this – but equally to make it clear to her that I will respect her choice if she decides to believe in the old man with the white beard who lives up the sky (which essentially means I will keep my disappointment to myself!)

    • Phaenarete says:

      Welcome! I’m glad you found us.
      I’m surprised that she is learning about god at school especially in the UK. Is it a religious school?
      My daughter goes the French school in our city. Because it accepts funding from the French government and follows the national French curriculum it is strictly secular by law. Here’s a funny story for you.

      I didn’t realize how many readers “Why Evolution is True” had. So when I wrote the story of Mason meeting Hitchens I thought, naively, that it would be read by about 100 people tops. Once the post hit Facebook and Twitter I began to panic. I contacted Mason’s school and requested an emergency meeting. I was so nervous. There was the head master, the assistant head master, the director of student affairs and the IT guy.
      I took a deep breath and said to the head master, “I guess I should start by saying that I am an atheist.” He had a completely blank look on his face. He clearly didn’t understand the English word so I tried again, “I’m an agnostic.” Nothing. “I don’t believe in God.” He cracked a huge smile and glanced at the assistant head master who was grinning too. Then he turned back to me and with a classic Gallic shrug said, “So what?” It was difficult to get them to understand how controversial disbelief can be. What a relief!

      • Chris says:

        I’m not sure what the law says on religious education, but I’m pretty sure it’s part of the ‘national curriculum’ here. I need to do some research, but I think schools have some discretion on how much they do. Ours is an ordinary primary school (ages 5-11), not a religious one, but I get the impression that they do more than the basic minimum (possibly our headmaster is a believer!)

        They learn about other cultures, but often this means marking other religious festivals, such as Eid and Diwali, which is good in a way, because they’re learning that not everyone in the world is like them, but the implication is that religion is culture.

        I need to relax a little, because she’s only 6, but I do feel I have a responsibility to encourage independence of mind!

        Thank you for your site. I found you because I’m a follower of the Daily Hitchens blog, and heard that lovely and inspirational story about your daughter. I hope mine is interested in reading Greek myths when she’s a bit older. Currently, anything with a fairy or kitten on the front is the order of the day!

        I think my next step is to put a note reading ‘Wisdom begins with wonder’ on the fridge…

        • Phaenarete says:

          That would make me very happy indeed. Part of my point for choosing Socrates is to teach our children that there are other sources of “ancient wisdom” then just the church. Perhaps healthier choices.

          • EmmaG says:

            My son (also 6) asked if we had a god. I explained that we (me and Daddy) don’t believe in one but other people do. He seemed happy with this. A few months later when he gets sent home with a line for harvest festival which read “It’s a time to thank God for all the crops he helps us grow” which I’m afraid I found laughable. I challenged it with school (private but not religious ) and when he found out I had had it changed and we discussed why he told me that god is like made up things that aren’t real like cartoons and no he does not believe.
            I think all you can do is keep balancing the religious indoctrination (that some schools in the uk seem to think is their job) with the assertion that they are just stories most of which are nice with a nice moral message but should not be confused with science and the discovery of real stuff.
            It seems to be working for us.

            Great blog btw Anne.

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