Comparison to other traditions - Who we are podcasts
While most Ethical Society members know that Felix Adler, the founder of the first Ethical Society, was the son of a rabbi and grew up Jewish, we rarely talk about the relationship between Ethical Humanism and Judaism. In this Platform – the first of a new annual series exploring the similarities between Ethical Humanism and other religious traditions – James Croft will trace the Jewish roots of Ethical Humanism and show how our philosophy drew heavily on the Reform Judaism of Felix Adler’s upbringing.
For this year’s “compare and contrast” Platform address, we’ll look at what Ethical Humanism has in common with and where it differs from Christianity, in its many forms. Some of the founders of the first Ethical Societies had Christian backgrounds, and many members today grew up in Christian households of one kind or another. Christianity is also still the dominant religion in America. What is the relationship between Ethical Humanism and Christianity today?
For this year’s “compare and contrast” Platform address, instead of looking at similarities and differences between the Ethical Society and another tradition, we’ll explore how the views and practices of Ethical Societies have changed over time. What would Ethical Society members of 100, 50, or even 20 years ago recognize in the Ethical Society of today? What would they find has changed? And what does our history suggest about how the Ethical Society might continue to develop in the future?
It’s time for our yearly compare-and-contrast Platform! How is our tradition similar to and different from other traditions?
Ethical Societies promote a belief in the human potential to make continual progress toward kinder and fairer relations between all people. Progressivism is a political movement that supports social justice activism, usually to mitigate problems related to inequality, prejudice, and oppression of different kinds. Ethical Humanism historically tends to take ethical stances that align with progressivist positions, and a majority of Ethical Society members would likely identify as progressives (whether by that exact term or not). At the same time, Ethical Humanism is not a political movement, and the Society seeks to welcome people of a variety of political opinions. What, then, should the relationship be between Ethical Humanism and progressivism?
Each August we look at the similarities and differences between the Ethical Society tradition and a philosophical or religious cousin. This year we will explore some of the history and lessons of Taoism as compared to Ethical Humanism.
It’s time for the end-of-summer “compare and contrast” platform address! Learn more about Ethical Humanism and the Ethical Society by exploring some of the philosophies of ancient Greece that challenged traditional theories of reality and sought naturalistic answers to questions of how to live a meaningful and good life.
Each year we compare and contrast a related-but different religious or philosophical tradition to Ethical Humanism. This year we’ll look at atheism in some of its different forms and explore in what ways Ethical Humanism overlaps with atheism (the Ethical Society has some members who identify as atheist), and in what ways Ethical Humanism has distinct values and practices that a person does not have to be atheist to embrace.
This year for various reasons Kate’s annual “Get to know Ethical Humanism” platform address will be in June, not August. And this year we will be learning more about Ethical Humanism by exploring its relationship not to another religion, but to another philosophy/lifestance: existentialism. How is Ethical Humanism similar to and different from existentialism? Come and find out–berets optional.
Each August for the last four years Kate has given a platform address comparing and contrasting Ethical Humanism with a different religious or philosophical tradition: Judaism, Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, and secular humanism. In this age when many people choose to stay home on Sundays, or to belong to virtual communities rather than physical ones, we will take a slightly different angle and look at the similarities and differences between the Ethical Society and National Public Radio, which many members listen to religiously, so to speak.
This platform looks at what Ethical Humanism has in common with secular humanism, and how it differs as a form of religious humanism.
A comparison of classical Buddhism and Ethical Humanism that explores the overlaps of these traditions, both of which are non-theistic and focused on practical ways to improve human life.
There is a lot of over-lap in the history of the Ethical Culture and Unitarian Universalism. Both are liberal religions that grew out of enlightenment ideals and free thought movements. Today, both tend to attract people of similar bent: social activists and others looking for community and inspiration without dogma. Many people have found a comfortable home in ‘ one religion and then the other, and some people continue to visit or belong to both. But there are also differences, in history, emphasis, and style that make each tradition distinctive and that cause most people to choose one or the other. This platform will explore the similarities and differences between Ethical Culture and our nearest religious neighbor, Unitarian Universalism, to increase our knowledge and appreciation of both.
The founder of Ethical Culture, Felix Adler, was brought up in a Reform Jewish household, the son and grandson of rabbis who were influential in Germany and America. Although Felix eventually chose a different religious path, his roots had a strong influence on his ethics, his beliefs, and the practical organization of the movement he founded. This platform address will explore some of the history of Reform Judaism in the mid-to-late 1800s and its impact on early Ethical Culture, using as a source the study by Benny Kraut, From Reform Judaism to Ethical Culture: The Religious Evolution of Felix Adler (pre-reading not required!).
Kate Lovelady has been the Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis since 2005. Previously, she was Leader Intern at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, the Ethical Society of Austin, and the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
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