Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
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St. Louis jazz: Race and other issues; Dennis Owsley, PhD

August 5, 2007

In face-to-face interviews about his book, City of Gabriels: The Jazz History of St. Louis 1895-1973, Dennis Owsley found that although issues in the book such as race, the musicians’ unions and other sensitive topics were discussed, they were not found in the final printed stories. This platform address will examine some of these topics.

The host of KWMU’s Jazz Unlimited show since 1988, Dennis Owsley is a retired research scientist, part-time teacher, author and photographer. A fan and student of jazz since age 15, he has become one of St. Louis’ foremost experts on local contributions to the art form. He and his wife Rosa are members of the Ethical Society.

Hinduism and modern life; Anita Mehra

July 22, 2007

How do the ancient ethical traditions of Hindu and Sikh fit into modern western life? How do practicing Hindus and Sikhs meld their prevalent beliefs into contemporary beliefs? Several core Hindu concepts will be discussed: Karma, the belief in cause and effect., i.e., what you radiate outwards comes back to you in some form; Detachment, living in the world yet in touch with an inner world; Enlightenment, acquiring knowledge of the Self; Mantras or word formulations that are believed to evoke inner wisdom, i.e., the power of using specific words and symbols to guide one’s thoughts and actions.

Anita Mehra is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in private practice. She is a nationally board-certified hypnotherapist and has been studying guided imagery for 10 years under Dr. Robert Fiebiger, a clinical psychologist practicing in St. Louis for the last 30 years. Anita has lived in the United States most of her life. She learned yoga as a child from her grandparents and her mother. She was raised in the Hindu tradition that emphasizes there are basic truths in all religions and philosophies. She studied classical Indian dance for 13 years under famous teachers in the U.S. and India. She most recently studied meditation under the guidance of Prince Hirindra Singh of Patiala, who has given her insight into Eastern traditions such as those of Hindu and Sikh philosophies.

Mindfulness, ethics, and positive psychology; Ryan M. Niemiec, PsyD

July 15, 2007

This presentation will continue our series on the fascinating, blooming area of mindfulness meditation, this time from a modern social-science perspective. Mindfulness, which means becoming aware of our moment-to-moment experience without judgment, is both a technique and an approach to life. Dr. Niemiec will discuss how mindfulness can help individuals live in a healthy, ethical, and meaningful way. He will emphasize practical tools and resources that anyone can begin using immediately. The area of focus is the connection of mindfulness and the new positive psychology, a field that studies the science of human virtues (e.g. courage, humanity, justice) and strengths (e.g. curiosity, gratitude, fairness, social intelligence).

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D. is a local psychologist who works in two settings: 1) St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute, where he works with people with health problems, depression, chronic stress, chronic pain, and anxiety. He is on staff with the Program for Psychology and Religion, a program that treats priests and people in religious orders. 2) SLUCare’s Primary Care and Prevention Center, where he is a consultant to physicians in an “integrated care program,” helping to improve the overall health of the patients in the family practice. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. He gives local, regional, and national lectures and workshops on a variety of topics, such as integrated care, mindfulness, and spirituality. He is co-author of the book, Movies and Mental Illness, and co-author of the forthcoming book Positive Psychology at the Movies.

Mindfulness: Ancient wisdom for modern times; Bridget Rolens

July 8, 2007

The Buddha explored deeply the human experience of suffering. His exploration revealed to him how we create suffering in our lives and how we can end that suffering. He invited others to explore for themselves this phenomenon of suffering and developed a method for that exploration called the Noble Eightfold Path. We will focus on two elements of this path – ethical living and the practice of mindfulness – and see how they work together to free our minds and hearts from old habits of reactivity that bring suffering to ourselves and others. Our time together will include experiencing mindfulness through a guided meditation.

Bridget Rolens, MA, OT, teaches meditation as a spiritual practice and as a tool for stress reduction. She is a co-leader for the St. Louis Insight Meditation Group and a program facilitator for the mind-body stress reduction program at Masterpeace Studios. She holds an MA in Theology and a BS in Occupational Therapy. Thirty years of experience in traditional healthcare and in a variety of spiritual practices rooted in the Christian, Buddhist and 12-Step Recovery traditions have given Bridget a strong understanding of the connection between body, mind and spirit in promoting health and well-being.

Ethics and architecture: Gentrification – The good, the bad and the ugly; Jim Thomas

June 17, 2007

The last 50 years have been tough for US cities, St. Louis more so than some others. Struggling to survive, cities have worked hard to stabilize and revitalize their neighborhoods. Yet such efforts are often flashpoints for conflict, with overtones of racial and class antagonism and accusations of “gentrification.” Can the generic good of neighborhood improvement actually be bad, even ugly? Can we revitalize neighborhoods in ways that are fair and inclusive? How have public policies and opinion about neighborhoods, low income housing, historic preservation and, in the future, green building shaped the debate?

Jim Thomas came to his interest in neighborhoods and architecture growing up in a restored 1830s home in a historic district of Alton, Illinois. His parents restored the home in the 1950s before historic preservation became trendy. He has been committed to living in mixed income, racially integrated neighborhoods since he moved to St. Louis after graduating from college. For almost 20 years (1981-2000), he was editor and publisher of a newspaper for the Gay and Lesbian community, a community noted for its involvement in neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation. He was executive director of University City Residential Service from 2002 to 2005. He currently does freelance consulting work on communications strategy and organizational development.

Ethics and architecture: The impact of sustainability; Thomas A. Taylor

June 3, 2007

Sustainability can be defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable or “green” buildings are high-performance buildings that through their orientation, design, construction and operation are highly efficient, achieve lower operating cost, are better for the environment and promote occupant health.

We have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment through the way we build, maintain, and occupy buildings. We are at a point in time where global events and climatic conditions have forced society to look at the way in which we proceed into the future. We have now educated ourselves to the point where we can challenge the status quo and as consumers, demand a more thoughtful way of meeting our needs without compromising future generations.

Thomas Taylor is a fourth generation construction professional turned sustainability consultant and has served at Alberici Corporation for over 20 years. He brings experience and passion to the leadership of Alberici’s new sustainable consulting service, Vertegy, and represented both owner and construction manager on Alberici’s dual-certified Four Green Globes and LEED Platinum Certified Headquarters. He holds a B.S. in Business Management from Southern Illinois University with a minor in Construction Management. Over the years, Taylor has served and chaired various committees on both the local St. Louis and National Associated General Contractors of America. He is a member of the St. Louis Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, chairman of the sustainable construction task force of the National Associated General Contractors, and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Signs of hope; Kate Lovelady, Leader

May 20, 2007

This is going to be an anti-“Yes; but” morning-I hope. It may take quite an act of will on all our parts to resist the impulse, after I mention that situation X is getting better, to immediately say in our minds “Yes, but Y is getting worse!” Still, let’s try. For today, let’s just be happy with what’s going well, with what’s improving in the world. I think we can do this without deluding ourselves that we live in a paradise or that progress is so inevitable we can just kick back and wait for it to come without any work on our part. I think we should do this, because taking time to note the signs of hope in the world can reenergize us in our ethical quest.

Links from this platform: The Banality of Heroism by Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo, from Greater Good Magazine. and Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence by Peter Unger.

Democracy and war; Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 29, 2007

In 1902, Felix Adler asked “Two Ethical Questions” about the Philippine War: “Is it treason to condemn a war waged by our country while the war is still in progress?” and “Are civilized nations justified in adopting uncivilized methods of warfare?” Throughout our history, Ethical Culture has struggled with vital questions for a democracy at war, and the words of past Ethical Leaders (who have run the gamut from interventionist to pacifist) clearly are still relevant today.

This Sunday we’ll hear modern “translations” of Ethical Culture thoughts on war, from Adler’s day to the 2003 and 2006 resolutions against the Iraq War passed by the National Leaders Council and the American Ethical Union, and we’ll explore the decisions we need to make as ethical citizens today.

2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company

April 15, 2007

Today we honor Joan Lipkin as the 2007 Ethical Humanist of the Year. A playwright, director, teacher, activist and social critic, Lipkin has established several theater groups, including That Uppity Theatre Company and the DisAbility Project. Her work is devoted to creatively portraying the life dimensions of everyday people, including the lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, gay and questioning (LBTGQ) population, cancer survivors, those with disabilities, the indigent and racial or cultural minorities.

Lipkin puts the principles of cultural diversity and social justice into innovative theatrical practice as she collaborates with many underrepresented populations. Her works include “After Rodney,” which followed news coverage of the mid-1990s beating of Rodney King, “Some of My Best Friends Are…” the first gay and lesbian review produced in St. Louis, and many others. Her plays have been performed in several U.S. cities as well as in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. Lipkin is a mentor for those in arts administration, marketing, grant writing, playwriting, directing, and promoting social justice. She is passionate about involving others in the arts and has introduced many to acting and theater.

“Joan Lipkin was chosen for this award from a field of 10 exceptional nominees. All aspects of her art are imbued with humanist values and devoted to promoting social justice,” said Kayla Vaughan, chair of the Ethical Humanist of the Year Committee. “She is a performance/theater artist whose creative work helps these important messages become part of our public discourse.”

The James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In action)Award was established in 1976 to honor individuals or organizations for outstanding work in improving the human condition.

What’s so funny? Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 1, 2007

There once was an Ethical Society
Whose platforms were models of propriety
But one April Fools’
They tried a new way
That made visitors doubt their sobriety.

Join us for a (mostly) light-hearted look at the serious subject of humor, one of the human animal’s most unique traits. Humor helps us cope with life’s troubles and lowers our psychological defenses. Learning to laugh at our own foibles is an essential part of wisdom.

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