Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
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Doubt as the Path to Happiness, Massimo Pigliucci, PhD

March 27, 2022

The word skeptic literally means inquirer. And to inquire into things is good, right? But skepticism has a complex and much misunderstood history, from the Pyrrhonists who abstained from holding any opinion to modern scientific skeptics focused on criticizing pseudoscience. In his talk, Pigliucci will argue that skepticism can and should be a philosophy of life and a path to happiness. And there is a lot more to life and happiness than just debunking nonsense.

Massimo Pigliucci is an author, blogger, podcaster, as well as the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His academic work is in evolutionary biology, philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience, and practical philosophy. His books include How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life (Basic Books) and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press). His forthcoming book is The Quest for Character: What the Story of Socrates and Alcibiades Teaches Us about Our Search for Good Leaders (Basic Books). More by Massimo at https://philosophyasawayoflife.blog.


Unedited video

Mill Creek: An Erased Community, Vivian Gibson

March 20, 2022

Vivian Gibson will discuss her best-selling memoir The Last Children of Mill Creek that chronicles the triumphs and daily struggles of her large family. You’ll hear about the friends, shop owners, church ladies and teachers who made Mill Creek into a tight-knit African American Community. In 1959, Mill Creek, a segregated working-class neighborhood in St. Louis was razed to build The Daniel Boone Expressway, an act of racism disguised as “urban renewal.”

Vivian Gibson was raised on Bernard Street in Mill Creek Valley and has lived in New York City and Liberia. She started writing short stories about her childhood memories after retiring at age sixty-six. Her work has been produced as part of 50in50: Writing Women into Existence, at the Billie Holliday Theater in Brooklyn, and published in The St. Louis Anthology (Belt Publishing, 2019). She is the 2020 winner of the Missouri Humanities Literary Achievement Award. Gibson lives in St. Louis.

Edited audio:

Full video:

The Invasion of Ukraine: Lessons from History, Prof. Krister Knapp

March 13, 2022

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has swiftly become the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and more than a million refugees displaced. What can we learn from the history of armed conflict in Europe to determine how we might respond to this new crisis?

In this special Platform, Ethical Society Leader James Croft will be joined by Prof. Krister Knapp of Washington University, a specialist in the history of crisis and conflict, for a discussion of the invasion of Ukraine and what it means for the US and for the world.


  • The history of the war.
  • The causes of this war.
  • The role of the US in responding to the war.
  • Historical parallels we might draw between the current crisis and others, such as World War II.

Watch the video on YouTube.

Facilitating Mixed-race Discussions, Tabari Coleman, MPA

February 27, 2022

An exploration into how our commutes and other daily decisions contribute to prejudice and marginalization of Black people throughout the St. Louis region.

Tabari A. Coleman, MPA is a training consultant and social justice advocate known for his thoughtful but direct approach in facilitating dialogue sessions that focus on building empathy. With more than 19 years of experience in diversity and inclusion training and social justice work, he brings a wealth of knowledge, passion and expertise to his work. He worked for the Anti-Defamation League for 13 years as the education director and national director of Professional Development. He left in 2021 to start his own consulting company, The Coleman Group, LLC. He travels nationally and internationally delivering training programs, workshops and giving presentations. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-St Louis where he is applying his practical knowledge and experiences in the Social Justice in Education, Ed.D program.

The Rise of Global Authoritarianism, The Annual Pacino Lecture Fund, Sarah Kendzior, PhD

February 20, 2022

Local author Sarah Kendzior, the author of “Hiding in Plain Sight” and “The View from Flyover Country,” will explore the rise of autocracy, paying particular attention to Missouri as the bellwether of American decline.

Her talk will examine the causes of rising autocracy – decades-long institutional rot, entrenched corruption, elite criminal impunity, digital media silos full of propaganda, and the embrace of groupthink and cults that tends to thrive in unstable times – and offer potential solutions to our ongoing crises.

“Sarah Kendzior is a modern-day prophet,” said Ethical Society of St. Louis Leader James Croft. “Her writing on American politics and culture is searingly honest, deeply thoughtful, and profoundly wise. At a time when truly dangerous forces are twisting American politics, we need voices like Kendzior’s to wake us up and get us to act.”

Kendzior will illustrate how Missouri has served as a petri dish for the end of the American experiment, a place where dirty dark money operatives test out their worst ideas on an innocent populace. But because Missouri has borne the brunt of these tactics early, she believes it may be better prepared to fight for the American future.

“While some might be put off by her diagnoses, we need to be honest about the challenges we face as a nation if we are to overcome them,” Croft said. “That honesty is what Sarah Kendzior offers, and that is why we are so delighted to have her join us for the Ethical Society of St. Louis’ annual Pacino Lecture. The Pacino Lecture is offered in memory of Nick Pacino, a member of the Ethical Society who was passionate about thought-provoking and timely ideas, and Kendzior is a perfect speaker to honor his memory.”

The Great refriending, Casey Rosengren

February 13, 2022

Casey is an entrepreneur, community builder focusing on spirituality for the secular world. He is the creator of Open Div Summit a 4-day “pod-conference” around spirituality, meaning, and connection in the secular world and previously ran one of the first travel communities for digital nomads. In addition to his own projects, he coaches entrepreneurs and leaders on how to create cultures of engagement and meaning..

Justice and Compassion–Responding to St. Louis’ Own Crisis of Homelessness, Teka Childress

February 6, 2022

Teka Childress will share an overview of the particular situation of homelessness in St Louis and the great opportunities there are to address it.

Teka Childress was part of the St Louis Catholic Worker community for 35 years and helped operate a house of hospitality and shelter. She also has worked as an outreach worker among unhoused persons for twenty years and has advocated for the rights of unhoused persons.

Unprecedented Challenges, Unprecedented Opportunities; James Croft, EdD, Leader

January 30, 2022

In a typical year, this would be the announcement and reminder of the Pledge Luncheon, where we would gather for community and for the future of the Society. We had hoped to have a smaller version of that this year, but the Omicron spike is an unprecedented challenge that made doing so impossible. But despite these challenges, we as a Society have built new flexibility, enabling us to switch from in-person to hybrid to fully virtual on very short notice. It hasn’t been ideal, but we have kept our congregation going, have kept our relationships alive, and have grown an audience outside of St. Louis.

Whatever happens with the pandemic, our staff and our new technology have opened these opportunities that we didn’t have before. We can emerge from the pandemic with a strong local congregation and a larger network and influence throughout the Humanist movement. Capitalizing on those opportunities takes creativity, time, staff effort, and… capital. Existing members, please review the pledge packet you received and give as you can to help us build in the future. Non-members, please consider joining us, to become a part of our community.

Uganda Humanist Schools Trust Fundraiser, Leader James Croft EdD

January 16, 2022

The Ethical Society has been supporting Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UHST) and providing scholarships to female high school students for the past decade. The schools and their surrounding communities have struggled mightily due to the COVID pandemic and the government-ordered school shut-downs; with significantly decreased tuition revenue but increased costs, the schools and the students relied heavily on funding provided by UHST. 

The Ethical Society community will have the opportunity to hear more specifics about this year’s experiences — both positive and negative — during a Platform in January, and we hope you will choose to donate funds to benefit UHST and the great work Isaac Newton and Mustard Seed Schools are doing in Uganda. 

ESSL Office Administrator Nancy Jelinek will collect all donations and wire the funds in late January, so please communicate with her and share how you will make your donation (ACH, check to Ethical Society with UHST in memo line, charitable trust, etc.). She will assist you in the details. Please contact Nancy at 314.991.0955 x214 or njelinek@ethicalstl.org. Thanks! 

Feelings of Awe and Wonder; Helen De Cruz, PhD

January 9, 2022

Dr Helen De Cruz, the Danforth Chair in the Humanities in the Philosophy department of Saint Louis University, discusses the feelings of awe and wonder.

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