Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
Dr. Fred Rottnek, chief physician in corrections medicine for St. Louis County and physician to many of the area’s poor and indigent, has worked on the frontline of the nation’s growing health care crisis. He sees the toll exacted by the state of Missouri on its most helpless citizens. In 2006, Missouri cut almost 100,000 people from Medicaid, the first state to do so. Without this safety net, many don’t have access to the most basic health care. Nearly 50 million Americans and a million Missourians are unable to afford health insurance. Dr. Rottnek questions a brand of patriotism consisting of weaponry and war while ignoring the health of its citizenry. Believing the country and state can do a better job of maintaining the common good, he makes a case for adequate health care for everyone.
In addition to his post with St. Louis County, Dr. Rottnek is the director of Community Services at the Institute for Research and Education in Family Medicine and the assistant director of the Master of Arts in Health Care Ministry program at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis.
Dr. Rottnek was awarded the James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In Action) Award in 2006 for his advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and underserved in the St. Louis area.
America has a difficult relationship with sex. On the one hand, sexualized images are everywhere and are an important fuel for our desire-based economy; more conservative countries complain that our images and attitudes are corrupting their cultures. On the other hand, many politicians, preachers, and educators build careers on trying to convince Americans–particularly American youth–to re-embrace our Puritan past; more liberal countries find our sexual attitudes and policies to be unscientific and even dangerous.
Personally and as citizens, we all make decisions about sex: who should have it, when, how, with whom, under what circumstances. Ethical decisions need to be conscious and informed; therefore we need to start with some fundamental questions: What is sex for? What is “good” and “bad” sex in an ethical sense? Where do people’s assumptions about sex come from? To what extent is the issue of sex in America not really about sex at all, but about other things: power; idealizations of childhood; assumptions about women’s and men’s roles, about sexuality and orientation, about families? What are the hidden beliefs and agendas behind much of today’s “sexuality police”?
“When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.” – Matt Groening
Founded in 2003, the Center for the Study of Human Values and Ethics at Washington University is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program with a mission to advance the understanding of the most complex and troubling ethical issues facing society. The Center works with students, faculty, and community leaders in all professions providing education, research, community outreach, and service in ethics and human values.
Dr. Ira J. Kodner is Director of the Center and the Solon and Bettie Gershman Professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Washington University. After 20 years of teaching medical students ethical and compassionate care of their patients, he became a consultant and author for the American College of Surgeons curriculum for teaching ethics to surgery residents. Dr. Kodner has published more than 100 scientific articles relating to colorectal diseases. The recipient of many honors for accomplishments in medicine and teaching, he also serves as a Chief Medical Consultant for KMOV-TV and serves as attending in the Surgery Clinic at St. Louis Connect Care.
Dr. Stuart Yoak is the Executive Officer for the Center and Lecturer in Professional Ethics at Washington University. In addition to his work at the Center, Professor Yoak teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in ethics at Washington University. He chairs the Biomedical Ethics Committee at Christian Hospital in St. Louis and is actively involved in patient-physician case consultations and education for the hospital. He consults regularly with corporate leaders and gives presentations to professional meetings on ethical decision making.
Ken Haller, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Haller worked in community health centers in East St. Louis, IL, for 10 years before moving to Saint Louis University. He was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1990 and 1998 for his work in underserved areas and is the recipient of the 1990 Illinois State Medical Society Public Service Award as well as the 2006 Excellence in Pediatrics Award from the Saint Louis Pediatric Society. Dr. Haller has been a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Matters Task Force since 2001 and speaks frequently to professional and community groups about the effects of media on kids.
“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.” – Garrison Keillor
Wednesday of this past week was of course Valentine’s Day, and therefore the topic of love has been in the air. When we think of love we tend to think of close personal relationships, but what are the deeper connections between the human capacity for love and ethics? In this platform address, with the help of the words of poets, philosophers, and Ethical Culture leaders, we’ll explore the idea that ethics–underneath all the fancy jargon–is unconditional love for humanity, and that this love is the true common ground between religious idealism and secular utilitarianism. Perhaps it’s true that all we need is love.
“I truly feel that there are as many ways of loving as there are people in the world and as there are days in the life of those people.” – Mary S. Calderone
“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” – Matsugi Saotome
Few topics in science are more familiar to the general public than evolution, and few are more often misunderstood. The teaching of evolution in Missouri science classrooms has been under attack by proponents of “intelligent design,” who argue that living things are too complex to have arisen without the intervention of an intelligent designer. A bill was passed out of committee in the Missouri legislature last session with a “DO PASS” recommendation that would facilitate the teaching of this view in our state. It is interesting to speculate how Darwin might have responded to the authors of this bill today.
Dr. George Johnson is Professor of Biology at Washington University where he has taught biology and genetics to undergraduates for 30 years. Also Professor of Genetics at Washington University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Johnson is a student of population genetics and evolution, renowned for his pioneering studies of genetic variability. He is the author of more than 50 scientific publications and seven texts. St. Louisans are familiar with Dr. Johnson as the author of a weekly science column, ON SCIENCE, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and as the founding director of The Living World at the St. Louis Zoo.
Rudy Nickens is an experienced facilitator, educator and entrepreneur, with a strong background in cultural diversity, business management and community development. Currently, Mr. Nickens serves as Executive Director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company. Prior to this position, he was vice president of St. Louis 2004, a civic organization created to act as a catalyst for community development. While with St. Louis 2004, he worked on initiatives related to Workforce Diversity, Zero Tolerance for Hate and the Ceasefire Program to Reduce Youth and Gang Violence. Since 1993, Mr. Nickens has taught in the School of Communications and Media Studies as a member of the Adjunct Faculty of Webster University and lent his skills as an educator to Planned Parenthood of St. Louis as well as the National Conference of Community and Justice.
For the past 20+ years, he has consulted, educated and trained several local and national organizations in the areas of workforce diversity, leadership development, cultural competence and conflict resolution throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Mr. Nickens continues to be very active in the community serving on various boards including Diversity Awareness Partnership, Missouri Restorative Justice and Black Leadership Roundtable, The Institute for Peace and Justice and SSM Health System.
This Sunday is the kick-off to our yearly pledge campaign. I feel fortunate to have an excuse to talk about money every year, because money is one of the most fundamental yet hard-to-talk-about aspects of our lives. In our culture, almost every decision we make, every minute of the day, is related to money whether we realize it (or like it) or not. Money can ruin and save lives, build and break relationships, feed and destroy communities. How do our unconscious feelings about money affect our ethical choices? How can we change our attitudes toward money so that however much or little we have, our money can be another way we bring out the best in others and in ourselves?
If we live our lives unaware of the greater forces that frame our existence, we are like little fish in a vast ocean being swept along by the tides. In no area of contemporary life is this limited vision more apparent than in the institution of marriage, where more than half of those who ride this wave are dashed upon the shoals of disappointment and defeat. This talk will be a beacon of hope for those tempest-tossed souls, as the deeper currents that carry the yearnings of human hearts are explored and much that was murky is made clear.
Rev. Rebecca Armstrong invites you to sail with her on a journey of discovery through the origins of romantic love and its relationship to Eros, Agape, Marriage and Divorce. You will see its effect upon the western imagination and its stormy intersection with the women’s movement and capitalism. Along the way we will catch glimpses of the eternal love energies embodied in the gods and goddesses of myth, fairytale and popular literature. The love promise that can be kept and never broken is the far shore towards which our journey leads us.
Your guide Rebecca has been traveling the world for more than 40 years as a singer, storyteller, minister and mythologist. Her parents, George and Gerry Armstrong, were well-known folksingers and welcomed many talented bards to the family home including the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who became a close friend. Rebecca worked for the Joseph Campbell Foundation for 12 years representing Campbell’s work to a worldwide audience. She co-founded an interfaith group called Friends of Compassion and was honored to take a group to India where they met with the Dalai Lama. In her work with the Parliament of World Religions she had the opportunity to be the opening act for Nelson Mandela and has met with other extraordinary people all over the world.
While St. Louis has achieved success at some level in addressing racial polarization and other issues of bias and bigotry related to human identity, in no area can we claim to have fully created the inclusive society envisioned and championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The St. Louis we all believe in and have helped to build is still an imperfect place, in spite of great progress made in the past generation. Access and opportunity are not equal for all. As we imagine the equitable society of which we dream, hard work, moral strength, and dedication to purpose are not yet the only requirements for fulfilling the American dream. As we look to the future, how can each of us become the empowered leaders that make the dream a reality?
Ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1978, Dr. Rafanan ministered an African American congregation near O’Fallon Park on the northern part of the city for nearly 20 years. There he was “trained” by his parishioners to be aware of the structural impact of racism and to understand how cultural representations, public policies, and institutional procedures interact to maintain racial hierarchies that produce disparate and negative outcomes for people of color in the City of St. Louis.
As director of NCCJSTL, he has had the opportunity of increasing the size and scope of the organization’s work in St. Louis, collaborating with community leaders to develop new training programs and community initiatives that empower leaders to change institutions and transform community.
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