Blog

Opening Words from Sun. September 19 by Dara Strickland

September 19, 2021
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Good morning, everyone! I’m Dara Strickland, my pronouns are she/her, and it is so good to be her with all of you today.

As a part of our Platform, Opening Words has been important to me since before I even joined the Ethical Society. When I was still just a visitor, I was amazed that members sharing their personal joys and struggles with ethical life was an integral part of weekly meetings. For me, it was the first sign that the Ethical Society was a true community, not just a lot of nice people who liked to listen to lectures on Sunday mornings.

Early in my membership, I joined the Platform Committee, which researches and coordinates our guest speakers for Platforms but also arranges Opening Words. Surely I was an asset to the team because of my network of diverse personal connections? Maybe because of my extensive knowledge of local history and culture?

FALSE.

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Learning to Use Altar

September 8, 2021
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We Are Moving to Altar

Starting Sunday 12th the Ethical Society will be gathering digitally on a new program called Altar. We will no longer be using Zoom for our Sunday morning programs! That means you have a little setup to do to ensure you can join Platform. This guide will help you find our Altar webpage; create your personal account; navigate upcoming events; join an event; interact with other participants; and find a meeting room.

Watch an Intro to Altar

Altar have created a useful informational video to help you get started with Altar – you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YlPLn6811M.

Finding the Ethical Society of St. Louis Altar Webpage

Our personal Altar webpage is: https://ethicalstl.altarlive.com/. Here you will find a calendar of all of the scheduled Ethical Society events on Altar. Platform will always be a Featured Event, and will appear under the “Upcoming Featured Events” heading. Other events will under the “Upcoming Events” heading below. (You can also view Past Events by clicking that heading.) We recommend you bookmark this webpage in your browser now, so you can always find it when you need to.

Joining an Event on Altar

To join an event on Altar, all you have to do is go to https://ethicalstl.altarlive.com/, find the event you want to join on the calendar, and click it. You’ll be taken to the event immediately. If it is not yet time for the event to start, you may see a countdown or a series of slides showing, but you’re in the right place. If you visit the site now, and want to try out the program’s features, join the event for any upcoming Platform and look around!

Learning to Use Altar

If you would like a guided tour of everything Altar can do, once you’ve joined an event you can click the Start button in the box called “Show me around Altar”. It will give you a guided tour of the program, and we recommend everyone comes to their first event a little early and uses this feature.

Show me around Altar button

Creating your Altar Account

Unlike Zoom, Altar does not require you to download a program to your computer: you can join right through your internet browser! However, for security purposes you will be asked to created an Altar account if you want to interact with other participants in a meeting. You can join anonymously, without creating an account, but if you do so you will be unable to chat or show your video.

To create your account, simply click “Log In” at the top right corner of the screen:

Log In button

You can use an existing Google account (for instance a Gmail account – this is the first option offered); you can use a Facebook account (this is the second option); or you can create an account just for using Altar by typing in an email address. If you choose this last option, you will be prompted to input your name, phone number, a photo, and to create a password. You may also be sent a “magic link” to the email you provide to verify your account: you can find these in your email inbox. These accounts are securely stored by Altar and enable the Ethical Society to stay in touch with you about upcoming events.

If you want to change any information in your profile – such as the photo you use, or your name, click on your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen and select “Edit Profile”. That will take you to a page where you can change your photo (by clicking the edit icon by the current photo), the name which is displayed, your password, etc.

Edit Profile option

Taking a Seat

Once you’ve created an account and are logged in, you are ready to take your seat! You’ll notice that the window is set up like a movie theatre, with a screen at the top and rows of chairs underneath. Just click on a chair to sit down! If there are other people sitting in that row, you will be automatically added to a video chat with them, so you can choose to sit with your friends and say hello! You can move around whenever you want to visit with different people, and your conversation will not be heard by anyone except the people sitting in your row.

Using your Camera and Microphone

Just like Zoom, Altar will require your permission to use your computer’s microphone and camera. To that end, when you take your seat you may be prompted to allow the program access. If so, just click the “Allow Camera And Mic” button which pops up, then “Allow” on the further popup which results. You should then see yourself, and others in your row will be able to hear you!

If you wish to mute your camera or turn off your microphone, all those settings are found beneath the video window, just as in Zoom. Click “Mic” to mute and unmute your microphone; click “Camera” to turn your camera on and off, and “Settings” opens further options you may wish to explore, such as which of your computer’s microphones and cameras Altar is using (if something doesn’t work, check there!). You can also use the “Leave Row” button to go back to being a passive spectator.

Mic and Camera Settings

Watching the Program

The program will play in the movie screen and you can watch it just like a live video on any other site. You can safely chat and discuss with your friends during the program: the live room won’t be able to hear you.

Using Chat and the Participants List

Just as in Zoom, you can use text chat to communicate with other participants, and see who else is in the meeting using a participants list. On Altar, these functions are accessed using icons to the right of the screen:

Chat and Members Online buttons

Hovering over these icons will bring up a description of what they are. In order, they are: chat; members online; announcements; polls; welcome & navigation. The most important are the first two: chat and members online. Clicking the Chat icon will bring up the chat window, which will allow you to see both chat messages sent to everyone (under the General tab) and chat messages sent only to you (under the My Chats tab). Clicking the Members Online icon will bring up a list of participants in the meeting, which you can search using the search bar. One neat feature of the Members Online list is that you can find where a friend is sitting in the virtual auditorium by searching for their name and clicking on it!

Using the Lobby

After Platform is over, we may switch everyone into the Lobby, a different sort of online space for hanging out and discussion. The Lobby works just like the main event space does, except that there is no movie screen, and the participants are organized around little tables. Just click a seat at the table you like, and you can talk with and see your friends sitting at the same table!

Using Altar on Mobile

If you prefer to join our programs using a mobile device such as a phone or a tablet, you can download the Altar app from your device’s app store. You will be prompted to create an account (see above), then will be taken to a page where you can search for a community. Type “Ethical Society of St. Louis” into the search bar and select us in the results which come up. You’ll be added to our community and taken to the events page. From there, just tap an event to join!

Gathering Donations for Afghan Refugees: Tuesdays and Sundays in September

September 2, 2021
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St. Louis is resettling 1,000 Afghan refugees, and the Ethical Society will be coordinating a collection of necessary resources for them during the month of September. You will be able to donate needed resources on Tuesdays from 10am-4pm and Sundays 9am-12pm – at all other times the Society is not fully open, so please restrict your donations to those times. They will then be taken to the International Institute for distribution to the families in need. If you prefer to donate money, you can do so by clicking here.

CLICK HERE to view a list of needed items.

COVID information

September 1, 2021
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We will reopen the Society on September 12th with a modified, socially distanced Platform.

  • Platform will start at 10am in the Auditorium.
  • All participants must be masked while in the building.
  • All onsite participants are required to be vaccinated. (Anyone who is too young, or who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons, is exempt from this requirement.)
  • To facilitate social distancing during platform, alternate rows of seats will be closed. Family groups can sit together separate from other groups.
  • Platform will be live streamed on Altar (How to use Altar) to participants outside the building and, if needed, in the Hanke Room.
  • Sunday Ethical Education for Kids (SEEK) will be offered from 10-11.
  • Coffee hour will be held after platform in the Becker room and outside in covered pavilions.
  • All other Sunday programs are suspended until further notice.

Last update: 11-Sep-2021

Switching from Zoom to Altar

August 29, 2021
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At the beginning of September, the Ethical Society of St. Louis will be switching its Sunday programming from Zoom to a new Online program, Altar Live. We will also be starting Platform at 10 a.m.

In order to join all our Online programming members are asked to register by clicking here. You can sign up for a free account that will enable you to join all our Sunday programs in the future – you should sign up for an account right away to make sure you don’t miss anything!

How to use Altar.

Why are we switching programs? Because Zoom was never designed to host community gatherings like ours, and is particularly poorly-suited to enable us to host in person gatherings which people also attend Online in real time. Altar Live is designed specifically for congregations who wish to integrate Online and in-person participants and enables us to do many new things which Zoom cannot do. For instance, with Altar you will be able to choose a row of the virtual auditorium to sit in and speak with friends during Platform, without interrupting the program. You will be able to chat with a virtual host who is designated the task of greeting visitors and making sure everyone feels welcome. And, you will be able to meet with groups of friends after Platform by choosing a table to sit at.

We will giving Altar a trial run September-December to see how it goes – if it doesn’t work well, we can always switch back to Zoom. Email Leader James Croft with questions.

Climate Action Now! Year in review 2020-21

August 28, 2021
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Coordinating group: Cathy and Bob Pickard, Matthew Hile, Rachel Jones, Brian Vandenberg
Coordinating group: Cathy and Bob Pickard, Matthew Hile, Rachel Jones, Brian Vandenberg

Climate Action Now! (CAN!) Team Report to the Membership 2020-2021

Team Organizers: Brian Vandenberg, Matthew Hile, Rachel Jones, Bob Pickard, Cathy Pickard

Mission: To inform members and friends about problems and solutions relating to climate change and to inspire and support each other to take meaningful, concrete actions to address the climate crisis.

In 2020, the Society’s One Book selection was “Falter”, by Bill McKibben, which largely focused on the threats to humanity and earth’s other inhabitants from climate change. In response to the question, “So what do we do now?”, that arose at every discussion and Platform address on the subject, the CAN! Team was formed. (This team, of course, follows the good work of the Earth Ethics team and earlier environmentally-focused groups.) We have met, via ZOOM, since November 2020, on one Sunday morning each month at 9:30 AM. Our format features a presentation by an expert, followed by a Q & A session and, most importantly, concrete recommendations for follow-up action. A record of our 6 meetings thus far is posted on the Ethical Society website blog (https://ethicalstl.org/tag/can/) and includes all recommended action items plus resources for further investigation and research. This record is a valuable library that members can easily access and share with others who might be inspired to take action.

Our program topics and speakers:

So far, our members and friends have changed individual aspects of their personal behavior to lessen their environmental impact, donated money to selected environmental organizations, and communicated concerns to political representatives. We’ve even learned that two separate homeowners decided to install solar panels on their homes after attending a CAN! program on the subject. We are hopeful that many of these actions will have a ripple effect, promoting conversations with neighbors, co-workers, family and friends, growing awareness of the climate crisis, and encouraging more commitment to solution-oriented behavior.

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Climate Action Now! Native Garden Tour

August 28, 2021
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Bob describes the Pickard’s native garden projects.

Native garden tour at the home of Bob and Cathy Pickard closed the CAN! team’s inaugural season. Bob and Cathy have been planting native flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees since 2015, cutting new beds and adding plant diversity every year since. The benefits of gardening with native plants, that is plants that are naturally occurring in the region in which they evolved, include:

  • Provide food, shelter, and a space to raise the young of animals (birds, insects, amphibians, mammals, …) with which they co-evolved.
  • Require less water, fertilizer and pesticides to grow and maintain.
  • Provide aesthetic value.
  • Can store CO2 and help in storm water management.
  • Gardening (native or otherwise) is good exercise.

Interested in learning more? Ready to dig in? Don’t know where to begin? Looking for a bit of guidance for your current efforts? Check out these resources.

  • Wild Ones St. Louis Chapter, a community of native gardeners who meet monthly to educate and support homeowners who wish to learn and develop their own native landscapes.
  • Grow Native! program from the Missouri Prairie Foundation includes a native plant database, sample garden designs, online learning opportunities, and more.
  • Shaw Nature Reserve, part of the Missouri Botanical Garden, located in Gray Summit, MO, where you can visit the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, hike on trails through prairie, woodlands, and wetlands, or engage in a multitude of learning opportunities.
  • Bring Conservation Home, a consultation service and certification program of the St. Louis Audubon Society.
  • Homegrown National Park, a grassroots call to action.

Where can I to purchase native plants, trees, and shrubs? These are sources Bob and Cathy used:

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Start small, then grow your habit as you create more habitat. 

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Opening Words from Sun. August 22 by Dave Gutekunst

August 22, 2021
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Hello to everyone in Zoomlandia! I think Zoom messes up our sense of space and time, so I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am greeting you from about ~800 miles to your east, in my new home of Bethesda, Maryland, where I have been for about 10 days. I just started a dream job at the NIH, but even with a dream job, moving is still a stressful and emotionally taxing experience. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today. 

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Anti-Semitism and Anti-Vaxxer Statement

August 16, 2021
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Faith leaders and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page called out anti-Semitism in recent St. Louis County Council meetings today, August 16. Those involved were Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation; Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis; and Dr. James Croft, Leader with The Ethical Society of St. Louis.

Here is the statement James made at the press conference:

“Good morning. I’m James Croft, the Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, and my grandfather Captain Fred Croft fought the fascists in World War 2. He was a gunner with the Royal Artillery, a legendary shot, and while fighting on the North African Front, in Libya, he was captured and sent to a Prisoner of War camp.

The treatment of prisoners of war in World War Two tended to be better than that of those the Nazis sent to concentration camps, but they too had their systems for categorizing captives, including badges they sewed to the prisoners’ uniforms to dictate their status. My grandfather was not Jewish, so he escaped the Yellow Star of David. He was not gay like me, so he escaped the pink triangle too. But he was a repeated escapee. He was not content to sit out the war in a Prisoner of War camp, so he tried, multiple times, to escape. For his efforts he was identified with a red circle on his prison garb: a symbol which meant “Shoot on sight”: if he tried to escape again, they weren’t to bother trying to recapture him – my grandfather could just be shot.

I tell this story because when I saw anti-vaccine protesters in Springfield City Council last week turn up wearing yellow Stars of David pinned to their clothing, I thought of my grandfather and everything he sacrificed to fight the regime which used that symbol. Let me be clear: these symbols mean something. They are part of our history and our present: there are people still alive today who were forced to wear that yellow badge in concentration camps. These badges were used to denigrate and demean people, to strip them of their individuality and reduce them to just numbered members of a type, marked for slaughter: this one is a political prisoner; this one is a homosexual; this one is a Jew.

These are symbols of dehumanization, reminders of some of the worst parts of human history, and they are not to be used in a game of political dress-up. You may believe very passionately that the government should not promote the vaccine, but you should not use these symbols – or references to the Holocaust in general – to make your point. To do so defames the memory of those, like my grandfather and like so many US service people, who fought against Fascism. To do so completely undermines any political point you might be trying to make. And to do so brings disgrace upon you. So to those making these wild comparisons between the encouragement to wear a mask or to take a vaccine, and the holocaust: shame on you. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

As for the vaccine itself, I know many of you are skeptical. My friends and colleagues will tell you that I am a skeptical person. Rabbi Talve and Maharat Picker Neiss will tell you that I like to ask critical questions, I like to see the evidence. In that way, although I come from another country, I am a Missourian: I want you to show me. So I understand the desire some of you have to see the evidence that the vaccine works and is safe before getting it yourself. I understand the skepticism.

I understand, too, that is a lot of confusing, conflicting information out there,  It can be difficult to know who are the experts, what to believe.  So I, like most Missourians, try to use my common sense.  I listen to the advice of doctors with expertise in infectious diseases.

The truth is that the results on wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing are in. We asked “show me”, and the studies and the research have shown us that these measures help stop the spread of COVID 19.

Results of the vaccine are also in.  All of the COVID 19 vaccines reduce the chances of contracting COVID 19.  In addition, if you are vaccinated and do catch COVID, even the severe delta strain, you are significantly less likely to have a severe illness.  Over 95% of those dying from COVID 19 have not been vaccinated.

I want you and your family to be safe. I have lost family members and members of my congregation to the virus, and I don’t wish that on anyone. I also want this to be over. I hate wearing a mask, I hate not being able to go to the movies, I hate not seeing my friends. The Ethical Society has been closed for 17 months now, and I’m anxious for our community to get back together. So I understand your impatience.

But I also understand that the quickest and safest way for us to get life back to normal is to get the vaccine, and – for the time being – wear a mask. So I ask all of you to do your part.  Wear a mask.  Use social distancing.  Wash your hands. And, please, get vaccinated.”

Opening Words from Sun. August 15 by Nick Cowan

August 16, 2021
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Hi, I’m Nick and have been a member of the St Louis Ethical Society since 2005. If you don’t recognize me from The Before Times it’s because I was rarely at Platform or Forum. My time was spent in the mural covered walls of the Coming Of Age classroom.

Super thrilled to do opening words this morning. It’s not every day you get asked to be Linda Locke’s opening act!

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Happy Birthday Felix Adler, Father of Ethical Humanism

August 14, 2021
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Yesterday would have been the 170th birthday of Felix Adler, the founder of the first Ethical Society and the father of the Ethical Humanist movement. Unlike many congregational traditions, we don’t worship our founder as a prophet or messiah: we see him as he saw himself, just one human being among many, with no unique connection to any divine power. We recognize our founder as an imperfect, flawed person, who held some views which were radical, exciting, and progressive, and others that today we would see as retrograde, embarrassing, or even wrong.

There is something healthy about our movement’s refusal to venerate to our founder. It reminds us that even the most thoughtful thinkers of one age will be seen as deficient by the next, given moral and social progress. Adler’s views on the appropriate relationship between men and women, for instance, we today recognize as deeply sexist, and became unfashionable in the Ethical Movement even during his lifetime. It is good to be able to reject and improve the views of your founder: otherwise, a movement ossifies and stagnates.

It’s a reminder, too, that no individual is inherently worth more than any other: even people who achieve great things are not existentially exalted. Felix Adler was just a man, for all we are indebted to him. Hero-worship is one of the worst traits of humankind, establishing as it does a hierarchy of human beings, focusing our attention on the few rather than the many, leading countless religious traditions to ruin. Adler himself repeatedly emphasized that the Leaders of the Ethical Movement were fallible human beings, to be questioned and tested by our members. While I sometimes wish the members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis would believe everything I tell them, ultimately I understand it is better that they challenge me – better for me and for our community.

At the same time, it makes sense sometimes to think on what our founder achieved. He was a religious radical who discarded the idea of a personal god at a time when that was much more heretical than it is today. He had the courage of his intellectual convictions to follow where they led, even when that meant away from the Judaism in which he grew up. He proclaimed a new vision for religion: communities which would be welcoming to all people, regardless of their beliefs about God or the afterlife, and which would focus on ethical behavior in this life over any attempt to secure a place in the afterlife.

This new vision led the Ethical Movement, despite its tiny size, to exert major influence on the progressive politics of his day. Adler was a prominent public intellectual during his own lifetime, and his social and political views shaped the public conversation, almost always for the good. The model of a philosopher-activist, he was a tireless campaigner for the rights and dignity of children, immigrants, the poor, and workers. He was a friend to the labor movement and a staunch promoter of international cooperation and peace. He was, in short, a religious visionary with a strong social conscience: a legacy which Ethical Societies should think on as we consider what our communities should be like today.

Sociologically, too, Adler was ahead of his time. He appreciated that the power of congregations is not in the beliefs they promote but in the community they foster: people encourage other people to become good. He once wrote, in response to critics who argued that a non-scriptural tradition could not foster goodness in people:

“It will be objected, how is it possible to induce [people] to make the effort [to be good], there being no authority of book or creed to lean upon. The answer to that is that the method we must pursue is to put [people] in the midst of crowds…[People] who are themselves aflame with the desire for the good can kindle in others the same desire.”

This insight has been multiply confirmed by numerous strands of social science research in the 170 years since Adler’s birth. Studies have repeatedly shown that the power of the congregation is the community, and that what drives members of congregations to contribute more to society is exactly their membership of a community that encourages them to do so. Adler appreciated this instinctively, decades before research showed him to be right.

Finally, we appreciate Felix Adler because his work laid much of the institutional foundation for today’s Humanist movement. There is irony in this, because during his lifetime he rejected the label “Humanist”, which he associated with a strong naturalism which he himself rejected (he preferred his own weird, Kantian collectivism – a philosophical view which never was popular and essentially died with him). Nonetheless, he was a passionate builder of institutions, and understood that no worldview can flourish without institutions to promote it. Some of today’s most prominent national and international Humanist organizations, including Humanists UK and Humanists International, to some degree owe their existence to Adler, and had we continued to follow his institution-building example, the movement might well be larger and more successful now than it is.

So, a belated Happy Birthday to Felix Adler: philosopher, theologian, scholar, activist, institution-builder, and possessor of an unnaturally-large forehead! You built something good, and the world is better for it.

Stephen Meyer, James Croft: Philosophers Battle Over the God Hypothesis

August 4, 2021
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Leader James Croft discusses the book Return of God Hypothesis with Stephen Meyer.

In a public square where the case for intelligent design is typically mocked as unworthy of serious engagement, it’s refreshing to find an exception to this disappointing rule. This past June provided such an exception, as the channel Moot Points hosted a conversation between Stephen Meyer and philosopher James Croft to discuss Meyer’s Return of the God Hypothesis. Michael Shermer likewise set a good-faith example by hosting Meyer on his podcast. Could it be that this signals a broader shift in the landscape of Christian-atheist dialogue? Good news for theistic ID proponents, if so!Evolution News & Science today

This was feature on Evolution News and Science Today. You can also watch it on YouTube.

Opening Words from Sun. August 1 by Board Past-President Stephanie Sigala

August 2, 2021
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Hello out there in Zoomland! I am reaching out across the ethernet to talk to you for four minutes about the American Ethical Union Assembly business meeting.

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Opening Words from Sun. June 20 by Ray Preston (w/ Lisa Manzo Preston)

June 20, 2021
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RAY: Good morning, it is Sunday June 21st…and it looks like it will be a beautiful…

LISA: WRONG! It’s not the 21st…it’s the 20th. That’s fake news! You’re fake news!

RAY: Perhaps that was an honest mistake. Perhaps I merely got it wrong and there was no nefarious intent.

LISA: NO! You’re fake news!

RAY: I worked as a journalist for 34 years. I was a reporter, photographer, editor, news producer and anchor at stations in Texas, California, Oklahoma and Missouri. I’ve worked at network affiliates for NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX.

A few years ago I was covering widespread flooding in west St. Louis County. We were ready to go live from the water’s edge. An SUV cruised past us slowly and someone rolled down the window and yelled “Fake news!” at us.

I had worked all day interviewing homeowners who had several feet of water in their homes. Emergency workers who had been helping people escape the flood waters.

So what was “fake” in my story? Was I reporting that the river level was 14 feet over flood stage when it was really 16 feet? I was quoting the National Weather Service.

But that was my knee-jerk faction. I know that yelling “FAKE NEWS!” at me was shorthand for “I don’t trust the media. I think you have an agenda that you’re pushing.”

Fake news is nothing new. It’s been with us for generations. If you don’t think so that means you haven’t been paying attention in the grocery store check-out line and overlooked such headlines as:

  • HILLARY CLINTON ADOPTS ALIEN BABY
  • TWO-HEADED SPACE ALIEN SHOT BY FARMER
  • I WAS BIGFOOT’S LOVE SLAVE: NOW I’M PREGNANT WITH HIS BABY

The problem with such publications is that they mix these stories in with legitimate news stories. So they muddy the waters.

What’s true and what is something straight-out of FantasyLand? Legitimate stories about cancer research are next to stories about ancient civilizations being found on Mars.

And to confuse people even more here comes a growing number of “citizen journalists.” Those who have a cell phone and broadcast their reports often adding their thoughts and feelings about what is happening. And, for the most part, they are accountable to no one.

When there is unrest on the streets of St. Louis I often monitor these broadcasts. I have absolutely no problem with people doing this but I’ve come to the conclusion that they should be referred to as “citizen REPORTERS” because they are indeed reporting what is going on, but I don’t believe they should be called JOURNALISTS because, in my mind, a journalist is balanced and objective. A journalist withholds their opinions.

I grew up during Watergate. Journalists were to be respected and honored.

So why have they fallen from grace in so many instances? The fault lies, in part, with the news business itself. And it is a business. There is a certain percentage of those in the news business who will exaggerate, embellish or mislead. Just as there is a certain percentage of lawyers, doctors, judges, accountants, priests, police officers, computer programmers, on and on who fall short of acceptable standards.

But, of course, education can change this. Otherwise we’ll continue to wonder if the headlines are legit. Headlines such as…

  • ALIEN BIBLE FOUND: THEY WORSHIP OPRAH
  • ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A WOMAN: WAS JOHN WILKES BOOTH HIS JILTED LOVER?
  • NEWS REPORTER EATEN ALIVE BY 80-FOOT DINOSAUR

Of course some of those headlines are easier to figure out than others. Thanks for listening.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Opening Words from Sun. June 13 by Brett Bartrum

June 13, 2021
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When I asked to give opening words this week I was surprised by the theme being revelation. Growing up Mormon we heard a lot about revelation as it’s what the church was founded on. In Mormonism, revelation is communication from God to man. They believe that Jesus Christ and God spoke to Joseph Smith directly in person to start the church.

Since I’m not Mormon anymore I don’t want to spend much time going into that.

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Opening Words from Sun. June 6 by John Whittier

June 6, 2021
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I should preface the body of my talk with a disclaimer. The following will mention the age 75. For those in the audience who are past this age, which includes my life partner, this may cause some discomfort. It is not my intention to cause discomfort, and I apologize to anyone made uncomfortable by my talk, but discomfort cannot be avoided when discussing end-of-life decisions. Also be aware that the age of 75 is not meant to apply to all persons, it is merely a starting point and is meant to be adjusted as fits each individual’s circumstances.

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Opening Words from Sun. May 30 by Christian Hayden

May 30, 2021
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My name is Christian, my pronouns are he/him/his and I am interning as a leader in training with the Ethical Society of St. Louis. I want to use this time as both an invitation and time to reflect.

The pandemic has taken a toll on literally everything; my physical health, my mental emotional wellbeing, and stressed the social ties I formed over the years. Nevertheless, I am not trying to lose sight of the fact this is a uniquely opportune moment for transformation. Few times in one’s life, or if you are a millennial too many times in one’s life, are there these seismic shifts-communally felt disruptions in one’s routine.

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Opening Words from Sun. May 9 by Leader James Croft

May 9, 2021
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Hello everyone. I decided to give Opening Words today because I wanted to give an update on where we are. It has now been more than a year since we closed the Ethical Society’s building due to COVID. In that time we have achieved so much together as a community. We transferred all our programs online; developed many new ones; and have done everything we could to keep this community together despite being physically distant. I want to take a moment to thank our staff: Christian Hayden; Nancy Jelinek; Louise Jett; Kat Wier; JD Brooks; and Terri Arscott. They have all worked incredibly hard to ensure that the Ethical Society of St. Louis remained a community, even if only virtually. I also want to thank all the members who have stepped up to offer online programs: there are too many of you to name, but each of you has made a huge different to the life of this community. Thank you.

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Climate Action Now! Climate Justice

May 2, 2021
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The negative impacts of climate and environmental degradation often fall most heavily on marginalized peoples in this country and around the world. Climate justice is a subset of environmental justice.

Presenter: Climate Action Now! and End Racism teams

Presentation slides (pdf, 200k)
Key points from presentation and breakout groups (pdf, 252k; image, 226k)

ACTIONS – Climate Justice

  • Watch the PBS series “My World Too” showcasing sustainable living practices from around the World
  • Make a environment/climate justice sign and participate in BLM protest (16-May and then every second Sunday, from 1-2 pm, in front of the Society)
  • Read about and contribute to the Solutions Project
  • Discuss the relationship between the climate change and race with your friends and family
  • Take the Environmental Justice self study program from Washington University
  • Learn about and participate in programs from “Just Moms STL” about Bridgeton’s West Lake landfill superfund site

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

St. Louis faith leaders express ‘horror and total opposition’ to church firearms bill

April 29, 2021
Category:

Ethical Society leader James Croft and other religious leaders to denounce a proposed law to allow concealed weapons in houses of worship.

James Croft, leader of the Ethical Society of St Louis, joined to express “horror and total opposition to House Bill 944.”

Watch the KSDK report.

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