Opening Words from Sun. November 19: “Recognition” by Sharon Poe

November 29, 2020

Recognition is a word with many meanings:

  • The act of accepting that something is true or important, or that it exists, such as accepting the results of an election.
  • The act of accepting someone or something as having legal or official authority, such as accepting that a new administration has the right of access to security briefings.
  • The state of knowing who or what someone or something is because of previous knowledge or experience, such as our previous experience with our President-Elect.

I didn’t intend to get all political with this topic, really. It just happened. Recognition on a personal level is where I intended to start, so I’ll do that now.

There are many forms of personal recognition:

  • On a grand scale, such as a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize.
  • Recognition on an employee level, such as bonuses or good evaluations. Our illustrious speaker Liz Croft, otherwise known as James’ Mum, will speak on that later.
  • On a much more personal level, recognition can be a look that says, “I see you, I know you, I accept you.”

We all need to be recognized. It’s not a matter of pride, selfishness, or immaturity. Human beings, from the earliest moments in or lives, need affection and respect from everyone around them, which is where we find recognition of ourselves as people. Our parents and or family are the first social circle responsible for giving us recognition, respect, and affection. If we are recognized and respected, our self-esteem and confidence grow to allow us to function in the world. If we don’t find hat initial loving support in or families of origin, we need to search for it in other places as we mature, or we will be stunted in our personal growth.

Just as we accept recognition it is also essential to know how to offer recognition to others: “I value you as a person I appreciate you and believe in you. I know what you are capable of and I respect you for that. You are a part of my life.”

Just as receiving positive recognition gives each of us a boost in confidence and self-esteem, it is equally important to turn that around and give recognition to others:

A sincere compliment for a job well done. A heartfelt birthday wish. A warm thank-you note. Since it is hard to smile at each other through our masks, we need to practice the Tyra Banks: “Smize,” smiling with our eyes. A ”Smize” and a thank you to the person who checks you out at the grocery. A phone call to a friend to say, I miss you.” A letter! Yes, we can still write letters! Any means to say, “I see you, I know you, you are important to me and to this world.”

Thank you.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

SiFi Book club reading list

November 25, 2020

Below is a list (updated regularly) of book the group has read and discussed.

A Window Into TimePeter F. HamiltonJan2021
Winter WorldA. G. RiddleNov2020
Downbelow StationC.J. CherryhOct2020
Quantum SpaceDouglas PhillipsSep2020
The Long EarthTerry PratchettAug2020
To Be Taught, If FortunateBecky ChambersJul2020
Nemo RisingC. Courtney JoynerJun2020
And Shall Machines SurrenderBenjanun SriduangkaewMay2020
The Player of GamesIain M. BanksApr2020
Best of All Possible WorldsKaren LordFeb2020
Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?Philip K DickNov2019
The Tea Master and the DetectiveAlette de BodardNov2019
Mote in God’s EyeNiven and PournelleSep2019
Once & FutureCori McCarthy and Amy Rose CapettaAug2019
Old Man’s WarJohn ScalziJul2019
ArtemisAndy WeirJun2019
The Calculating StarsMary Robinette KowalApr2019
BintiAnedi OkoraforMar2019
Long Way to a Small Angry PlanetBecky ChambersFeb2019
The MargaretsSheri S. TepperJan2019
The Human BlendAlan Dean FosterNov2018
The Sirens of TitanKurt Vonnegut, Jr.Oct2018
Six WakesMur LaffertySep2018
The Stars My DestinationAlfred BesterAug2018
All Systems RedMartha WellsJul2018
MoonwarBen BovaJun2018
Sea of RustC. Robert CargillMay2018
Startide RisingDavid BrinApr2018
Trading In DangerElizabeth MoonMar2018
Snow CrashNeal StephensonFeb2018
KindredOctavia ButlerJan2018
The SparrowMary Doria RussellNov2017
BlindsightPeter WattsOct2017
CityClifford D. SimakSep2017
The Moon is a Harsh MistressRobert HeinleinAug2017
I Sing the Body ElectricRay BradburyJul2017
The DispossessedUrsula K. Le GuinJun2017

Spreadsheet with all books.

Opening Words from Sun. November 8 by Nellie Brown

November 12, 2020

Good morning. Thank you for allowing me to give opening words today. I am currently in San Antonio, Texas, having been placed on active duty back in late March to support the military’s Covid-19 response. While I have been down here at Fort Sam Houston, my team and I on the Surgeon’s Staff are alternately amazed and jaded by what the year 2020 has thrown at us. So much of it is interconnected. Spill over zoonotic events arise when humans and the messy wilderness get too close. Hurricane seasons seem to be getting crazier as our dependence on fossil fuels can’t be controlled. Wildfires seasons and vector borne disease vulnerability seasons keep expanding and I help map the overlap of the current St. Louis encephalitis range with the wildland fires that service members are fighting in California.


Climate Action Now! – Introduction

November 10, 2020

Ready for  action to combat climate change? Climate Action Now! (CAN!) is an Ethical Society team whose mission is to build and support a community dedicated to addressing this global issue

Monthly meetings will feature a knowledgeable speaker discussing an aspect of climate change and will include 3-4 recommended actions participants can take related to that topic. A variety of actions will be suggested, ranging from individual behavior changes to collective political action. Information about the meetings and the suggested actions are posted on the Society’s website.

The Zoom ID for the meetings is: 444 367 1640

The organizing group are not climate change experts; they need and welcome your suggestions, involvement, expertise, and feedback.  Please email the group with your input

Please join us.

Rachel Jones
Matthew Hile
Bob Pickard
Cathy Pickard
Brian Vandenberg

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

CAN! Solar Power

October 28, 2020
Solar panels

Resources and actions for our Solar Power presentation.

Presenter: Eric Schneider,
Director of Business Development
StraightUp Solar

Presentation and Q&A recording

Solar power related actions:

Other CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now) team. The links in this post do not express an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Ethical Society named as a “Great Humanist Group”

October 9, 2020
Category: has named the Ethical Society of St. Louis #2 in their list of the 5 Great Humanist Groups Promoting Progressive Values. Included with us are the American Ethical Union, the British Columbia Humanist Association, the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, and the Black Skeptics Los Angeles.

Kate’s Farewell Drive-by

October 5, 2020
Kate Lovelady, Leader

After 15 years as Leader of the Society Kate Lovelady retired in May of 2020. Because of COVID we have been unable to come together as a community to thank her for her service.

Kate ‘s farewell celebration is finally here! While we can’t safely have the farewell lunch we originally planned, we can have a socially distanced drive by parade to celebrate her time with us. Plan on driving your car, bicycle, or motor scooter to the Ethical Society parking lot between 10:30a-11:30a on Saturday, October 31. Kate will be happily ready and waiting to receive your well wishes as you pass by her perch. There might be a line, so please be patient when you arrive. We will do our best to keep everyone moving. Feel free to make festive signs and decorate your vehicle for the occasion. The event will be held rain or shine. Questions? Reach out to Amanda Verbeck at

Opening Words from Sun. September 20 by Don Beere

September 20, 2020

This month’s theme, Reflection, led me to reflect, on reflection. For me, the best tool for reflection is analytical mediation, an approach in Tibetan Buddhism. I bumped into applications of this practice when, forty years ago, I read Time, Space and Knowledge by Tarthang Tulku, a Nyingmapa lama. Over the next twenty years I used TSK books in my classes and wrote six book chapters relating to its ideas. I found it intriguing, illuminating, instructive and challenging. I share this approach to reflection should you want to try it.


Opening Words from Sun. September 13 by Kat Weir

September 16, 2020

Hi! I’m Kat Weir, Director of Education here at the Ethical Society. In typical years, you can find me at the helm of our Sunday Ethical Education for Kids, or SEEK, programming. But, as we all know, this is anything but a typical year.


Opening Words from Sun. August 30 by Maxine Stone: “My Jewish Background”

September 1, 2020

I grew up in Newton, MA in a mixed community but mostly catholic.  It seemed to me that it was a mostly Jewish community because most of my friends were Jewish.  I was in a family of Reformed Jews and we went to Temple Israel.  In my memory, that was a big part of my life.  I went to Sunday School, carpooled with other Jewish friends, participated in Jewish holidays and events at home and at my temple…we called it a temple, not a synagogue. 


Opening Words from Sun. August 23 by Cathy Pickard

August 24, 2020

Earlier this month, Bob and I spent a couple weeks with our 3 1/2 year old twin grandkids in the Washington DC area. We hadn’t seen them since last December and were amazed at the changes we saw in them, especially in their language development.


Christine Floss, late member, honored by special journal issue

August 23, 2020

The late Christine Floss was a long term member of our Society.

“A special issue of the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science (MAPS) honors the late Professor Christine Floss (1961-2018). The journal issue highlights Floss’s ongoing impact on the study of extraterrestrial materials as well as her lasting importance to the cosmochemistry and planetary science community.”

Read the announcement from Washington University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Opening Words from Sun. August 16 by Cy Henningsen

August 16, 2020


My name is Cy Henningsen. My pronouns are he / him / his, and I’ve been a member of the Ethical Society for 8 years.

Today I’d like to talk briefly about something near and dear to my heart – board games!


Update 12-Aug-2020

August 13, 2020

News about the Society in a video by Leader Dr James Croft.

News from the Board President Stephanie Sigala (September 2020)

August 12, 2020

It’s been almost six months since we met in person in the Ethical Society. Sometimes I feel ambivalent about Zoom but I am happy that it exists. We can at least see and talk to our friends, not to mention run the Society mostly seamlessly.

Now more than ever, we depend on our capable and conscientious staff to get things done. Right before our closure, the Board voted to approve two big and expensive projects. Thanks to our great Facilities Manager, Terri Arscott, both of those projects are a big success. The parking lot has been upgraded with better curbs, resurfaced paving, and colorful paint. It’s very pretty. (Gosh, I hope you get to see it sometime soon!) As I write, the new accessible bathroom in the office wing is nearing completion. Terri has spent many hours at the Society making sure that things were going right for these complex improvements.

Did I mention how much Zoom has changed our lives? Now ESTL Board meetings, AEU meetings and platforms, and new initiatives seem commonplace on Zoom. As Board President, “Zoom is my life,” and I can participate in many meetings without leaving my dining room. New to me are the Membership Pipeline meetings each Tuesday night and the monthly Reopening Planning meetings on Fridays. Ethical life now is a virtual beehive. You can’t see the bees but they are busy buzzing.

September is bringing young kids back into the building but not us. The Nursery School has created admirable guidelines for safe distancing, cleanliness, snack and play protocols, etc. Six pages worth! By the time you read this, the Nursery School’s fall semester will be underway. Unfortunately, we Members are still at risk, so our Fall Gathering scheduled for mid-September in Tower Grove Park has been cancelled. It seems likely that you are facing challenging situations with lost income, health concerns, and/or school age kids running amok, so it is doubly disappointing not to be able to talk and touch elbows in empathetic solidarity with you. The Society has a member relief fund. It is there to be spent when needed. Email me at with your questions.

Opening Words from Sun. August 9 by Joyce Best

August 9, 2020

Good Morning!

I have been asked to speak because I had given Kyle some of Steve’s philosophy books. We were pleased to have the books being used. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about Humanism and philosophy.

As Humanists we LIVE our values. We do not regularly recite them. But it is valuable to consider them.


James Croft: St. Louis’ leaders allowed politics to prevail over public health

August 7, 2020
Category: ,

James Croft, Leader of the St. Louis Ethical Society, published an opinion article in today’s Post Dispatch. It begins

The evidence is now clear: St. Louis reopened too early and too quickly. In recent days, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have dramatically increased, and last week St. Louis found itself on a list of 11 cities called to task for failing to control the virus. As a result, St. Louisans — in both the city and the county — have been put at risk for illness and death. The responsibility for these failures lies directly at the feet of our political leaders, whose indecisive, reactive and muddled response to the pandemic imperils us all.

If the original link no longer works you can read an archived copy (PDF 200kb)

COVID-19 Statement (update)

August 5, 2020

Please note: We are closed to the public until further notice. Sunday Platforms and other gatherings will be held via Zoom. See the Calendar for event details.

Dear Community,

Dear Ethical Society of St. Louis Community, Today St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page declared a state of emergency in St. Louis County as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 (sometimes called Coronavirus). As part of the County’s precautions, groups larger than 50 have been asked to stop gathering. Given that limiting contact with others is one of the best ways to fight the spread of the virus, and given that our building is used by a large number of groups and hundreds of people every week, we have made the difficult decision to hold Platforms virtually via Zoom and to cancel all programming at the Ethical Society until further notice. This includes Forum, Colloquy, meditation groups, and all other meetings. Our building is now closed to the public. We recognize that this is going to be difficult for many of our members. For some of us, the Ethical Society is our main source of interpersonal connection, a place we go to see friends, seek inspiration, and regenerate our spirits. This is why, while we will be closed for in-person meetings, the Ethical Society will continue to provide programs to help people find connection and comfort.

This is a scary and uncertain time. We don’t yet know the true extent of the virus’ spread through the St. Louis community, and the measures we must take to avoid infection could cause anxiety and loneliness. We want to assure you that the Ethical Society of St. Louis is still here for you: our staff our still working, James is available to talk and perform pastoral care visits, and we will do our best to continue to offer programming which helps us be human, together. 

Yours Sincerely, 
James Croft

Opening Words from Sun. August 2 by Andy Stanton

August 2, 2020

Good morning.

I’m Andy Stanton and I’ve been a member of the Ethical Society of St. Louis since May of 2017, which was shortly after my wife and I moved here from Northern Virginia where we’d lived for 45 years.


Opening Words from Sun. July 26 by Stephanie Sigala: “My Life as a Protester”

July 27, 2020

Hello to Ethical members across the country. It’s good to see you here. I am president of the Ethical Society Board and want to add my welcome to that of James. Right now, you are seeing me in my physical home, but James will work his magic and you will see me at my spiritual home:  The Ethical Society of St. Louis.

Stephanie Sigala at a BLM vigil at the Ethical Society of St. Louis