Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
The Minnesota poet Alan Tate has said that “to communicate effectively is to love,” and that, I believe, is the essence of my address. I want to explore how we as adults can best tap into our desire to love our children (or anyone for that matter!) and express ourselves more effectively with language that says what we really want to say. How do we get as close as possible to our values, ethics, and core beliefs when we communicate? How do we keep it real, simple, truthful, fresh, and loving with our kids? Of course, communication is sometimes very difficult with children if we are unable to empathize with the variety of languages and unique perspectives children have or if we are too tired, rushed, and distracted by the cares of life. So, how do we slow down and empathize and communicate with kids better?
Dave Mampel has been performing professionally since 1992. Previously, Dave was an active ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, serving a 100-member parish in Idaho Falls, Idaho. After leaving the parish ministry to pursue an entertainment career, Dave developed his central character, “Daffy Dave” which has been a popular hit with family audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Daffy Dave’s shows have delighted children. He has performed widely in the Bay Area and on his local television show, “Daffy Dave’s Tree Fort.” Dave’s CDs and videos are sold internationally. Daffy Dave also has an official fan club and interactive website, www.daffydave.com.
It’s time once again to kick off our yearly pledge campaign. There are many areas in our lives in which we ask ourselves the question, “Is this worth it?” Committing ourselves to ethical living means weighing the results we want against the resources in time, energy, money, and emotion it will take to move closer to our goals. Each of us must ask him or herself, “Am I really pursuing my goals, or just wishing for them?” Sometimes we feel helpless in the face of all the large problems of our community, our nation, our planet. But in all our lives, there remain untapped resources. What “ethical currency” do we have, and how can we spend it more wisely to help us move our ideals toward reality?
The world seems to be getting smaller all the time. Our economy and our culture are increasingly interdependent with those of other countries. This intensifying interplay between people from different backgrounds offers the hope of greater understanding; it also poses the specter of oppression, alienation, and violence. These developments are not morally neutral, yet religious voices have not been prominent in the debates about globalization. One reason may be that the world’s major religions have often been poor global neighbors. Many theological traditions make their own exclusive claims to truth, setting the stage for irreconcilable debates and even blood-shed. Our pluralistic world calls for a pluralistic ethics rooted in a faith in the unique ethical capacities of every person and played out through an inclusive, elevating discourse.
John Daken is a native of Mystic, Connecticut who now makes his home outside Washington, DC with his wife Abigail and daughter Eleanor. In his role as a U.S. Navy psychiatrist, he participated in responses to terrorist at-tacks against the USS Cole and the Pentagon and later spent five weeks deployed to western Iraq. Having lost faith in the ability of military force to adequately address the terrorist threat, he left the Navy in October of 2006. He now serves as Medical Director of a community mental health clinic and is an active member of the Washington Ethical Society.
Many of us have experienced, and all of us will experience eventually, changes in our lives that overturn much of what we have known and counted on: we move to a new place, we lose a job, we retire from a vocation, we lose a beloved person. And so we must start over; we must remake our lives within new circumstances, find new reasons for and new ways of living. The dawn of a new year is an appropriate time to acknowledge that life is a series of endings, but also of beginnings, and to ask, where do we find the knowledge, strength, and help to start over?
For those who are traditionally religious, hope is derived from belief in a Divine Being who promises that all will work out for the best in the end. But for humanists, who doubt the existence of such a being, what are the sources of hope, especially when we are challenged by life’s misfortunes and tragedies?
Dr. Chuman has been the leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, NJ, for 30 years. He has a doctorate in religion from Columbia University where he teaches seminars in religion and human rights for master’s and doctoral students.
Dr. Chuman also teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Hunter College, and has taught at the United Nations University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has published numerous articles in the Bergen Record and has also had articles published in The New York Times, The Humanist, Free Inquiry, Humanistic Judaism, and other periodicals. His articles on Ethical Culture and religion have appeared in several encyclopedias.
As an activist, Dr. Chuman has worked on many progressive causes, notably on behalf of human rights and civil liberties and in opposition to the death penalty. He has recently initiated a sanctuary program for asylum seekers detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, NJ.
“I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” – Elie Wiesel
No matter a person’s beliefs, December in America is inescapably Holiday Time. In our hemisphere, the days are shortening and growing colder, and people draw together for warmth and cheer, as they have for millennia. Yet on top of this natural desire for closeness, our economic culture has overlaid expansive and expensive dreams of extraordinary gifts, decor, food, entertainment-all in the name of peace, family, and friends. With all these conflicting needs and messages, it’s no wonder so many of us feel confused and emotionally exhausted at this time of year. What can we do to reclaim the Solstice season? First, we can stop and listen-to ourselves and to our loved ones. What are our true deep needs and desires for others and for ourselves? How can we authentically act to express and fulfill these needs?
Where do you go in sleep? The nature of yourself, and of consciousness, is thrown into sharp relief when we consider sleep and the process of “waking up.” When we do come up from sleep, is there a fixed degree of awareness that we normally reach—a “plateau” of consciousness where we customarily stop? It will be mused that a person’s state of consciousness can be raised beyond the plateau one currently reaches, however normal or adult or elevated it seems to be. We can hardly know today what a higher level of awareness might be like for us tomorrow, but we can confidently say that it will mean an expanded scope of ethical understanding, an increased desire to mount an integrity of self, and a deeper satisfaction from doing so.
Bob Greenwell is Leader of Ethical Society Mid Rivers, a satellite of our Society. Mid Rivers began accepting members in January, 2004, and its membership now stands at 51. Bob has a M.Ed. in counseling, is married to Kathleen, and is the proud grandfather of four. He says that at age 61 he sleeps more now than he used to (taking naps), which gives him more opportunities to rise to higher waking states. Sometimes it happens.
If you know anything about Galileo, it’s probably that he challenged the prevailing belief of his time that the Earth was the center of the universe; that he was indicted by the Catholic Church for his beliefs; and that he backed down. That was pretty much all I knew until a few weeks ago. But in finding out more about this classic confrontation between science and orthodoxy, I found that there are many ethical lessons we can take from Galileo’s life. Please note: almost all Italian words are pronounced incorrectly (sorry).
Ethical Culture founder Felix Adler described societies as religious communities “dedicated to moral striving.” Their purpose was to help people move toward goodness, without any common formula or creed, but with a common need and desire to find better ways of living. How is this possible? By living among others: trying and making mistakes, listening and learning; then trying again. In this way we discover new truths about ourselves and our world. Leader Anne Klaeysen examines the process of moral striving as the core of ethical religion.
Anne Klaeysen has been Leader of the Long Island Society since 2002. She is a graduate and current co-mentor of the Humanist Institute and earned a doctorate in ministry from Hebrew Union College. She also holds master’s degrees in business administration from New York University and in German from the State University of NY at Albany. Anne was raised Catholic and her husband Glenn Newman was raised Jewish, so it was only natural that they would find Ethical Culture, where their children Andrew and Emily have been raised.
One of the greatest challenges faced by those who are concerned about an ethical problem in the world, whether that problem is war, global warming, or genocide in Darfur, is how to make other people care about it. In the past, perhaps, this was primarily a problem of getting and disseminating information. These days, graphic pictures and lists of grim statistics get swept aside a week later by a new avalanche of information. When the average person is numbed by “compassion fatigue,” how can people’s consciences be awakened, and kept awake? One way is through a more creative and vital use of language. This Sunday we’ll look at how our use of language can motivate and inspire and hear some words that will move us to tears, hope, and action.
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