Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
“Bein’ Green” was sung by Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street when I was young. The message of the song is that we should resist those outside voices telling us whom we should be, and instead develop the unique gifts we each have to offer. One of the first steps in ethical development is becoming comfortable with ourselves, so that we can be active participants in society and so that we don’t feel threatened by those who are different. Since I started following a vegan diet a couple of years ago, however, the phrase “It’s not easy being green” has developed yet another meaning for me. For my installation Sunday, I’d like to share some of the personal experiences and lessons I’ve learned from becoming vegan—particularly, what it teaches me about becoming comfortable with ethical choices, and what being different from many of my friends and family teaches me about “bringing out the best in others” when you disagree. Many folks join Ethical Societies seeking the fellowship of like-minded individuals, yet we can only be a vital Ethical Society if we also recognize, respect, and welcome the many ways in which we are different.
Where ethics provide a guideline that is eminently humane regarding our decisions about how we will live with ourselves and others, adherence to this guideline requires, at some point, an inventory of self, an inventory of community, and ever larger groupings relative to the ethics of each and our individual contribution to the ethical fabric of them. To some extent we have forsaken a commitment to ethical living in the following way – we have allowed fear, for too long, to make us hesitate to act on our ethics, and our inaction has hurt us all.
Redditt Hudson is the Racial Justice Associate for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. A former St. Louis police officer, he left the force in 1999 and devoted himself to addressing issues of police misconduct and to searching for ways to improve police-community relations. He has a significant history of work on issues critical to the social, cultural, and economic well-being of African-American communities and is especially concerned with the well-being of youths. In the past, he worked with serious juvenile offenders at the Hogan Youth Correctional Facility and provided them with alternative constructive choices to help them modify their behavior prior to community reentry. Redditt Hudson has held positions with the St. Louis Emergency Children’s Home and Better Family Life Incorporated. In 2000, he founded Project Peace, an organization which addresses issues of accountability and responsibility for students in high schools and in communities.
Mr. Hudson attended University City High School and graduated from St. Louis University where he also played basketball. He is currently enrolled in the Criminology program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. He is married and the father of four.
Several Ethical Leaders have given high praise to the Jesus of history. Among these are Felix Adler himself, David Muzzey, and Horace Bridges. What they did, and what John Hoad proposes to do, is to get back past the ecclesiastical Jesus and the evangelical Jesus, and attempt to describe what it must have been like to meet with the historical Jesus and feel the impact of his revolutionary teaching, and then to translate that into modern language and concepts. John has been a student of the Gospel story for over fifty years, and will crystallize out the essentials, as he sees them, of the impact of Jesus. This is a vision of the Humanist Jesus.
Dr. John Hoad is a native of Barbados. He studied in England and Europe to become a British Methodist minister. He served in Guyana and Jamaica. In Jamaica, he became President of the United Theological College of the West Indies, from 1968 to 1972, when he came to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling at Princeton Theological Seminary. He was a professional counselor in Princeton and then in Saint Louis. From 1980 to 1994, John was the Leader of our Ethical Society. He and his wife Karen moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2002.
Knowledge is important. More knowledge is available to us than to any previous generation. What is the best way to sort fact from fiction? Why is that important?
Rational thinking and observation help us learn the nature of reality. Sadly, this is not always the approach taken, even though the application of science is so obvious in almost everything that distinguishes our modern age. Many people believe that certain propositions that were decided in more primitive times should not be subject to reexamination. The speaker believes truth is paramount, that it is always tentative and the best means at our disposal should be employed in its pursuit.
James Hoggard received degrees from college and seminary in pursuit of the career of Christian minister. After serving in that capacity for 13 years, he left the ministry and turned his hobby of tinkering with automobiles into a new career. He operated Hoggard’s Car Place in St. Louis for 25 years, before retiring in 1998. He joined the Ethical Society of St. Louis in 1976.
Individual memory and collective memory are necessary for our individual and cultural identity. To remember is to bring alive again the past, as well as move us toward a future. To remember is to re-participate. If our lives are to have a coherent meaning, memory will be at work in us. With no sense of personal or social history, the fabric of our lives unwinds and disintegrates.
Relationships of all kinds are like a dance. Some faith traditions, such as Hinduism, emphasize the interrelationship, richness and beauty of all of life. We must have within us the knowledge of what makes relationships succeed, be attentive to the movements of the other persons and fill our relationships with spontaneity and richness.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
Ethical Culture founder Felix Adler’s early idealism was, to a large extent, superceded in the following century by philosophies of naturalism and pragmatism. What does that transition really mean to most of us? Some faith traditions root their authenticity, and base their practices, on authoritative tests. Ethical culture faith rests on a combined study of philosophy, ethics and science. From whence come our religious authenticity and authority? On what basis do we form our traditions and practices? Leader Anne Klaeysen examines the shift from an ideal or perfectibility to a concept of wholeness and asks the question: “How much is good enough?”
Anne Klaeysen is Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. She is a graduate of the Humanist Institute and holds Masters degree in German from the State University of New York at Albany and Business Administration from New York University. This spring Anne will complete work towards a Doctor of Ministry from Hebrew Union College in New York City.
The guiding religious and ethical principle in ancient Egypt was centered around the role of harmony. The issue of ecology is essentially an ethical and religious issue of creating and maintaining a harmonious relationship with all of life. Reinhold Niebuhr defined evil as “the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole, whether the whole be conceived as the immediate community or the total community of humankind, or the total order of the world”. In ancient Egypt it was the people’s role to keep the world harmonious. What demand is the earth making on us today, what principles might guide us in fulfilling our role as stewards, and what benefits might come to us by being our best selves in relation to the earth?
Cultures all live with myths and symbols. What signifies a symbol and what are the traits it embodies and the role it plays? They point beyond themselves and participate with that to which they point. They open up levels of reality and the self otherwise unobtainable. Yet they cannot be intentionally produced and they have a limited lifespan. But can we live without them?
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
“One of the functions of mythology is supporting and validating the moral order of a certain given society. Well, what’s your group? What’s the society with which you associate? …. Are you hanging onto something from the third millennium BC or can you accept this challenge of the present moment? Open up and don’t be afraid to let down the walls and let your neighbor in, so that you aren’t defending yourself and your crowd against another system.”
– Joseph Campbell
“In fact, words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better.”
– John Haldane
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