Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
In my candidate address last fall, I argued that one of the steps in ethical development is learning to Say Yes. By that I meant cultivating optimism, being open to the possibilities of life, and being willing to stretch ourselves and to work with others in trying new things. Humanism looks for signs of ethical progress in the world, and ethical humanists try to do our part, however small or large, to help positive change occur. Growth, whether of a person or an institution, requires change. However, change also challenges our comfort zones. This year we will be taking more steps toward positive change, including an increasing emphasis in our platforms on children and families, and more opportunities for ethical action. This platform will introduce some new practices and explore the exciting and the difficult aspects of change and growth.
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen
“Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.” – Anonymous
As the opening of the Ethical Society of St. Louis’s Fall Gathering Leader Kate Lovelady reflects on the 5th anniversary of September 11th.
Drawing from current research, wisdom traditions and anecdotes, they hope to inspire our community toward an experience of living more joyfully. Inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology and head of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Peggy and Lynne will explore the following questions: Exactly what is authentic happiness? How is it defined? Learn practical tips for bringing happiness into your life. Positive Psychology is a new branch of psychology that focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. Dr. Seligman’s research has demonstrated that it is possible to be happier — to feel more satisfied, to be more engaged with life, find more meaning, have higher hopes, and probably even laugh and smile more, regardless of one’s circumstances.
Recorded at the 91st Assembly of the American Ethical Union in Chicago, Kate explains her career move from poet to Ethical Culture Leader and reads one of her favorite poems by W. H. Auden.
A very free and idiosyncratic re-wording by Kate Lovelady, Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, of the Founding Address by Felix Adler, May 15, 1876, New York Society for Ethical Culture.
On May 15, 1876, in New York City, twenty-five-year-old Felix Adler delivered the founding address for Ethical Culture, laying out his argument and design for a new movement that would modernize religion, ethicize philosophy, and commit its members to affirming the infinite worth of every man, woman, and child.
“Diversity in the creed, unanimity in the deed!” Felix Adler, Founding Address
For the 130th anniversary, we will revisit the Founding Address, translating it where necessary into modern understanding, and see how well it has held up and what inspiration and direction it offers our still-moving movement. This will be the inauguration of an annual Founders Day, a day on which Ethical Societies across the country recall our roots, celebrate our individual Society’s history and people, and consider our legacy as the founders of the future.
I chose the title “Faith in Science” for Sunday’s platform to address two misuses and misunderstandings of science the attempt to impose on science non-science-based beliefs (something done by both the Fundamentalist right and the New-Age left), and the belief in science itself as a type of savior. Empirical research and the scientific method are crucial to helping us learn about human nature and make ethical decisions. Yet biology and even evolution are not necessary destiny, and what is technologically possible is not always wise. What are the promises and limitations of science?
Fred Rottnek, MD, MAHCM, has been chosen to receive the 2006 Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics in Action) award. This prestigious award was established 30 years ago by James S. McDonnell in honor of Jeff Hornback, then the Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis.
Dr. Rottnek’s life integrates the practice of medicine with his love of teaching, commitment to social justice, spirituality, and theology. His patients are the homeless and those incarcerated in St. Louis County. Dr. Rottnek works with many local homeless shelters and nonprofit agencies, providing direct, on-site health care services to people in shelters and other locations where they go to obtain goods and services needed for their day-to-day survival. In St. Louis County, he was the first physician to utilize community volunteers to establish a hospice environment for prisoners approaching death.
In addition to his work with the incarcerated and coordinating care for as many as 50 patients in an evening at a homeless shelter, he has organized many other physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers to use their time and talents to deliver health care to people living outside the fringes of the work-a-day world. He inspires a myriad of professionals to understand their importance and value to the patients they serve.
“The quality of all of our lives depends on the quality of the lives of those who have the least.” – Dr. Fred Rottnek
The concept of adulthood and maturity has been changing in America, for both good and bad. Many older people are more active than ever, while many younger people are putting off responsibility, or just not finding room for themselves with all these active older folks still in charge. At the same time, America’s mass-market culture is more youth oriented than ever. What does it mean to have an adolescent national culture? What are the thoughts and feelings that keep us from growing up, as individuals or as a culture? What can we do to support the positive evolution of ourselves, our kids, and our nation?
“We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we stop saying ‘It got lost,’ and say ‘I lost it.'” – Sydney J. Harris
Dr. Lane will draw on stories from the Taoist and Buddhist traditions in talking about some of the central paradoxes in the spiritual teachings of the Tao Te Ching. These include the mystery of wordlessness, the importance of doing for the sake of doing, the power of acting as not-acting, and the effectiveness of leading without ego. The presentation will suggest how these can be lived out in practice, pointing out parallels between Lao-tzu and Jesus Christ, between the Way of the Tao and the Way of the Lilies (as Jesus speaks of this in the Sermon on the Mount).
Dr. Belden C. Lane is Professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. His books include Landscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality (2001) and The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (1998). He was introduced some time ago as a Presbyterian minister teaching at a Jesuit University telling Jewish stories at the Vedanta Society.
The health care crisis in the United States affects everyone. With costs outpacing most peoples wages, only the wealthy can easily afford decent health care. Nearly 1.4 million people joined the ranks of uninsured in the last year, bringing the number of Americans without health care to 45 million. Seventy-four percent of those without insurance come from working families and 8.5 million children in the United States have no health care. Jim Hightower has spent three decades doing battle with the powers that be on behalf of just plain folks. Speaking out on behalf of consumers, working families, environmentalists and small businesses, Hightower is a leading voice for the public who find themselves living and working in an America that is vastly different than the one inhabited by politicians in Washington and the Wall Street elite. He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 120 commercial and public stations, on the web, on Armed Forces Radio, Radio for Peace International, One World Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.
His monthly populist newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown“, is the fastest growing political publication in America with more that 100,000 subscribers and his newspaper column is carried in more than 75 independent newspapers, magazines, and other publications. He also writes a monthly column for The Nation, Americas leading progressive journal.
Hightower is the best-selling author of Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And Its Time To Take It Back (Viking Press). His previous books are If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates; There’s Nothing In the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos; Eat Your Heart Out; and Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times.
Jim Hightower’s appearance is part of Health Care Weekend and sponsored by Missourians for Single Payer (MOSP) and the Ethical Society. MOSP is a coalition of diverse organizations and individuals working to promote universal health care through a single payer system. For more information about their mission and activities, please visit http://mosp.missouri.org/.
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