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First Amendment Sunday; Kate Lovelady, Leader

January 7, 2007

The First Amendment–particularly the rights of freedom of speech, freedom from government-established religion, and freedom to practice religion– is one of the most important and controversial parts of U.S. law. The Ethical movement has long been a player in the struggle for these rights, both as one of the influences that created the ACLU and as a minority religion in one of the most publicly religious countries in the world.

Ethical Culture philosophy suggests that diversity and the ability to listen to views with which we disagree are requirements of ethical living.

But what are the limits of First Amendment rights, and what are the responsibilities that go along with these rights? Where are the lines between censorship, tolerance, and encouragement? This Sunday we’ll look at first amendment rights and controversies as they relate to our ethical growth, our Ethical Society, and our nation.

Ethics begins in the home; Curt Collier, Leader of Riverdale-Yonkers Society

December 10, 2006

The goal of ethical religion is not to instill a set of beliefs, but to foster the development of ethical personalities: people who feel connected to all of life and to others, and who strive to bring out the life-affirming qualities in others. But how does one do this? How do we elicit the best from our children? This talk explores the origin of ethics within a human heart and how to create a home environment that allows ethics to blossom.

Curt Collier is a graduate of the Humanist Institute and the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health. He is completing a Doctorate in Ministry (ABD) from Hebrew Union College. He is the founder of Just Matrimony, promoting marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and served as co-Mentor for the Humanist Institute and the Humanist in Leadership Training programs. Curt has traveled extensively promoting Ethical Culture and was credited for founding the Ethical Society of Austin, Texas. Curt is Adjunct Faculty with the University Studies Department at Hofstra University. He has served on several committees for the American Ethical Union (including the Assembly Committee and the Leadership Training Committee) and has served on faculty of the Lay Leadership Summer School. Curt enjoys traveling and his plays have appeared on several stages in the New York area. He was a recipient of a grant from the Bronx Council of the Arts for his play Yeats: Mad as the Mist and Snow, and his play Displaced Moments was performed off-off Broadway.

On solitude and community; Bob Greenwell, Leader Mid Rivers Ethical Society,

November 26, 2006

Americans are desperate for community. They are flocking to conservative churches that have mastered the art of providing meaningful and plentiful small groups. Meanwhile the mainstream liberal Christian denominations, tied to traditional forms of large (and anonymous) gatherings on Sunday, and each follower left to his own devices the rest of the time, have been dwindling in membership. But community is not all that a human being needs. A person needs a degree of solitude as well. However, just as there are substitute and fake forms of community that do not fulfill in the long run, so there are substitute and fake forms of solitude as well.

Bob Greenwell is Leader of our offspring Mid Rivers Ethical Society, which began accepting members in January, 2004. Their membership now stands at 40. Bob has an M.Ed. in counseling, is married to Kathleen, and is the proud grandfather of four. He has known solitude from his Catholic seminary days (eons ago!) and his Siddha Yoga meditation. He has known community from family and from the Ethical Society.

Infinite Interrelatedness; Kate Lovelady, Leader

November 12, 2006

Felix Adler defined spirituality as awareness of our “infinite interrelatedness.” A few weeks ago, we explored our emotional and imaginative awareness of our interdependence with each other and the natural world. This Sunday, we’ll look at philosophical theories and beliefs. Ethical Culture’s assertion of universal human worth grew out of a long discussion in philosophy about human nature: How are we different from other animals? Are we more than material beings? On what can we ground our beliefs in worth and dignity and human rights? Adler’s struggle with these issues will lead us to perhaps the hardest question in ethics: What is our ethical responsibility to others? How do we live with that sense of responsibility and use it to inspire us?

“If men talked about only what they understood, the silence would become unbearable.” – Max Lerner ”

“Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Parenting at the speed of the internet; John Hoad, PhD, Leader Emeritus

November 5, 2006

At the request of our Leader (Kate Lovelady), John Hoad is addressing guidance on parenting. John’s qualifications include raising five children and enjoying five grandchildren. But are these qualifications out of date as we move into the Age of the Internet? Just as many of us could not help with New Math when it became standard, can we help our children face the growing frontier posed by new technology? Or are they out beyond us? The American Association of Pediatrics has recently called for some good old-fashioned playtime for our kids, and less regimentation and less devotion to video games. What are the values that abide that each generation needs to learn to build an ethical world? How can we address the Confucian challenge that there be a thread of values that runs from the individual through the family, through the nation, to the laws of the universe?

Dr. Hoad is a Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, having served 1980-1994. He lives in Charleston, SC, where he and his wife, Karen, have a practice based on her work as a hypnotist and his as a lifetime coach. John is a native of Barbados and previously served as a Methodist minister and seminary president in the Caribbean. After retirement from the Society, he served with Provident Counseling of St. Louis and as a visiting preacher for Emerson and Alton Unitarian churches.

Principle centered parenting: Dropping out of the new “gerbil race”; Tim Jordan, MD

October 29, 2006

The rat race to “keep up with the Joneses” starting in the 1950s was about “things,” i.e., homes, cars, appliances. The “gerbil” race today is about children: getting your kids in the “right” school, on the “right” select sports teams, building the perfect resume. Kids are growing up too fast, being treated as adults, and are stressed out and overextended. Dr. Jordan will lay out the costs to kids and families due to these extraordinary pressures and he will inspire parents to take control of their families’ lives, parenting from the principles and values important to them.

A nationally known speaker and educator, Tim Jordan, M.D., has dedicated his career to helping children and families. As a key media consultant, he has appeared on national and local television and radio and hosted the weekly radio show “Families First.”

The terrible, beautiful mess of life; Kate Lovelady, Leader

October 22, 2006

The strength of humanistic ethics is based in the heart as well as in the head. I’m often asked if its possible for people to live without a certainty of supernatural belief. My answer is to point to the long history of poetry, art, and music that has helped humanity develop compassion and commitment in the face of the uncertainties and pains of living. An ethical movement that rejects absolutist answers can still uplift and inspire by embracing this tradition, so this Sunday I’ll be sharing some of my favorite poems that explore grief, celebration, confusion, transcendence, and other joys and challenges of being human.

Stem cell research in Missouri; Gerald Magill, PhD, Saint Louis University Center for Health Care Ethics

October 8, 2006

The vote for or against Missouri’s Amendment 2 elicits significant controversy around embryonic stem cell research. People of good will and people of faith stand on each side of the debate. The ethical dispute is not about choosing between the protection of human life and the promotion of human healing – each side makes those claims, whether by reason or by faith. Rather, the contest deals with the irresolvable controversy about when personal human life begins. And each side submits substantive moral justifications for their opposing perspectives. There is need for respect and restraint to foster a calm courteousness to help citizens prepare for the referendum.

Gerard Magill, Ph.D., is a Professor with tenure at Saint Louis University’s Center for Health Care Ethics. He served as the Center’s first Department Chair from 1996 to 2006 and was Executive Director of the Center from 1999 to 2006. He has secondary appointments at Saint Louis University as a Professor of Internal Medicine in the School of Medicine and as a Professor of Health Administration in the School of Public Health.

His education includes a baccalaureate degree in philosophy, a baccalaureate degree in religion, and a master’s degree in religious ethics at the Gregorian University in Rome, as well as a Ph.D. degree in religious ethics at Edinburgh University, Scotland.

His areas of research specialties include: the policy and ethics implications of human genomics and stem cell research, and religious discourse in health care ethics.

Ethics: The next generation; Kate Lovelady, Leader

October 1, 2006

This Sunday we’ll look at some of the cultural and psychological pressures on today’s youth. What will influence them to be more or less ethical than the current generation? Many pundits proclaim that America is in a state of moral decline–is this true, and if so, will the next generation learn to imitate or to restore today’s moral lapses? What are the current trends in ethics among the younger set, and what can sociological research teach us about how to bring up our youth to create a more ethical society?

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings.” – Hodding Carter

The fate of eminent domain; Gary Feder

September 24, 2006

Can the private owner of a residence or business be required, as a matter of law, to sell their property to a developer intending to use that property, along with others, to create a new comprehensive project designed to serve the general public?

The Supreme Court of the United States answered this question in the affirmative last summer in the landmark decision, Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut. The decision set off a firestorm of protest concerning the long established practice of “eminent domain.” Eminent domain is the right of local governments, including school districts, highway departments, and some utility companies, to force the sale of certain real estate and to condemn the title thereto in consideration for payment to the owner of the property’s fair market value as determined through a court determined procedure. Expansion of the process nationally over the past half century has resulted in “takings” of real estate that wind up in the hands of private development companies rather than be titled to public entities. Instead of building roads, eminent domain has increasingly been used to build stadiums, office complexes, and shopping centers. Private property rights vie with governments’ desire to eradicate deteriorated or blighted areas, create new taxes/jobs, and stimulate growth. The controversial Centenne project in the heart of Clayton is just one local example of this battle. Legislative changes have already happened in Missouri. What lies ahead both national and locally?

Gary Feder is a member of the Land Use Development and Financing Practice Group in the St. Louis office of Husch and Eppenberger, LLC. His primary areas of concentration are real estate law, corporate law, and related litigation. He is a former member of the Clayton Board of Education and Clayton’s City Plan Commission and Architectural Review Board. Gary is a frequent speaker on real estate development issues, such as the use of tax increment financing, transportation development districts and urban redevelopment corporations.

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