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Blog: Humanist Voices

Findling Light in the Darkness

winter sceneWe have had an uncanny mild fall, but the next two months are guaranteed to be dark and dreary.   In just three brief weeks, the shortest day and the longest night will be upon us.  We are entering the darkest days of the year.  And given the outcome of the recent election, for many of us they are going to seem especially dark.  If only hibernation was a real option—like for four years, right?  Wrong!  Even as a metaphor for one’s mindset and demeanor, that’s the worst thing any of us could do now.

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Does the truth still matter?

lies SeinfieldSome observers have suggested that we now live in a "post-factual" society. That is to say truth, facts, and scientific evidence are not essential, or not to be trusted, in public dialogue. For example, the ascendancy of the Republican candidate for president was fueled by his promotion of the "birther" movement.  This phenomenon is based on the belief that Barack Obama was unconsti- tutionally elected as President of the United States as he was not a natural born citizen of this country. Evidence had always been available that this was not the case and in 2011 Obama's "long-form" birth certificate was produced. Still millions of people refused to believe the truth. Why is that?

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Humanism comes to Minneapolis in 1916

dietrich portrait 150x150Many in the secular movement are well aware of the “New Atheism” that emerged a decade ago when Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens each wrote scathing books about religion. Their brash critiques brought national and international attention to atheists as well as more scrutiny to the latent but growing demographic of “nones”—those who have little to no interest in traditional religion.  The story often missed in the narrative of the new atheism, however, is that quietly and steadily people have been moving away from religious dogmatism and traditional theism in very significant ways since the beginning of the twentieth century. And one of the key early leaders in that movement was John Dietrich. 

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Seeing Perspective

seeing perspectiveI never liked the “new math.” That is, math that was taught differently from the way I had learned it so many years ago. I had been a good math student and learned the “old-fashioned” way -- so that must be the right way. Right? Then, as a parent, every few years I discovered that there was yet a new way, supposedly a better way, of learning math. But why learn a new way—that parents have to figure out and learn all over again if they want to help their kids—when the old way was good enough!  I trust you can pick up on my parental exasperation.

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Bridging the Racial Divide

anti racismAfter the killing of two black men by policemen in July—in Louisiana and Minnesota—National Public Radio aired a rant by an Ohio police woman as part of their coverage of these terrible events. Her plea to fellow white officers was to get out of law enforcement if they were afraid of black and brown men. I can’t find the reference now to recap what I heard, but she voiced something that is tragically true in America—white and black and brown people are too often afraid of one other.

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Beyond "tribalism"

american unity amidst diversityI am a citizen of the world. First and foremost. That’s just the way I identify. And it’s no doubt one of the reasons I am drawn to the philosophy of humanism. But if one listens to the current political discourse, messages to put America and Americans first proliferate. Effective leadership is characterized as the ability to advance the standing of our own deserving “tribes” of “real” Americans above everyone else. Our nation is increasingly becoming a place where it is acceptable to disregard and/or demonize the “other” in our midst—often described through coded and loaded language—and to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. Like many of my peers, I am disturbed by this proffered trajectory for America’s future.

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D.C. Reason Rally 2016

Reason Rally 2016Early in June the second national Reason Rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Thousands of freethinkers and nontheists from around the country gathered to rally for reason and to assert our viewpoints in the public arena.  Larry Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, gave a compelling speech at the rally.  Check it out.  The American Humanist Association also had a presence at the Reason Rally; read this summary and view these photos. 

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Day of Reason 2016

National Day of Reason 2Today humanists, atheists, freethinkers and secularists gathered at the Minnesota state capitol to pay homage to Reason and to uphold its use in our public policy deliberations. We came to implore all our political leaders and fellow citizens to draw on the most up-to-date knowledge we have in the social and physical sciences, of world history and philosophy, and to use pragmatic moral reasoning in our civic decision-making.  We must commit to bring the very best of our rational capacities to our pursuit of the common good.

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Consumption vs. conservation

EarthBulbsI can’t believe I missed it!  The 10th annual Earth Hour to shut off lights in support of energy conservation and protecting the planet.  Me--the avid environmentalist since my youth—who to this day constantly goes around my house and other people’s houses shutting off lights—welcome or not!  Two days later I saw the back page Strib article: Cities worldwide go dim.  Other Minnesotans apparently missed it too—and most of the country.  New York City gave a nod to this environmental movement (begun in Australia in 2007) by dimming the lights atop the Empire State Building and some billboards in Times Square.  But I could have been the poster child for this environmental campaign!  O.k.—more accurately--the poster matron.   You can always count on me to turn out the lights.

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Civic Engagement, Humanist Style

state capitol MN

Watch the news.  Look around the world.  Listen to the candidates who aspire to lead our nation. It can be demoralizing -- to be sure.  We humanists envision a world better than the everyday portrayal.  But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it isn’t going to happen by magical or wishful thinking. As humanists we understand that it is up to us to create the kind of world we want to live in and leave for our children and heirs. 

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Decoding spirituality

bodymindspiritAre you feeling more “spiritual” these days—overcome by a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being and wonder about the universe?  Apparently while Americans are getting less religious, spirituality is on the rise.  The latest report from the Pew Research Center  indicates that “spiritual” feelings are increasing--even among atheists, agnostics and the unaffiliated--along with everyone else.  What should we make of this?

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Upcoming Events

Sat, Dec 3, 3:00pm - 5:00pm
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D-CUBED: What Now? A Post-Election Discussion (Sunday Option)

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