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

Opening Words from Sun. July 19 by Bradley Shutes

July 19, 2020

I allow my mind to wander while in the shower, and like many, I come away with “shower thoughts”. For example, do other people perceive colors as I do? Boiling water makes eggs hard but pasta soft and Jello neither. How does a “Do Not Touch” sign work in braille? Most importantly, why didn’t Lorraine recognize Marty from her past once he became a teen?


Folding@home – Ethical Society of St Louis group

July 12, 2020

Social distancing but want to take action to help defeat coronavirus? One way to do that is to join in the world wide distributed computing project Folding@home ( The project, led by Washington University researchers, runs complex computer simulations that model the building blocks of the new coronavirus in 3-D. This important work takes supercomputer power which is both expensive and hard to acquire. Folding@home overcomes this by having its users’ computers (around 5 million of them so far) work on small bits at a time then pooling their results.

You can read more about it on their web site and in a recent Post-Dispatch article. It runs when you are not using your computer so it does not slow it down or interfere with your use. The free software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linix. You can participate as an individual or as a group. There is an EthicalStL group (id 266591) already created. So, give it a look and join the team.

Opening Words from Sun. July 12 by Leader James Croft

July 12, 2020

This weekend a friend introduced me to one of my new favorite things: a series of fake posters of National Parks, created by artist Amber Share, which use phrases from internet reviews to humorously “advertise” the park. Here are some examples:

“Trees block view…and there are too many gray rocks.”

“No cell service & terrible wifi.”

“The only thing to do here is walk around the desert.”

“Save yourself some money: boil some water at home.”


Weekly Update 8-Jul-2020

July 9, 2020

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

“While our building is closed our community is open. “

Weekly Update 1-Jul-2020

July 2, 2020

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

“While our building is closed our community is open. “

Opening Words from Sun. June 21 by Jim Rhodes

June 27, 2020

Good morning everyone!

The theme this month is “Legacy” so I suggested to James that I give opening words on this topic on behalf of the Legacy Committee. For those who may not know what it is, the Legacy Committee was set up to manage the financial gifts that the Ethical Society has received over the years. These gifts have been in the millions of dollars and form a critical part of the financial structure of the Ethical Society.

It would take me a long time to enumerate these gifts, but I would just like to paraphrase from a recent email sent to me from our treasurer Steve Harris:

I think it would be useful to remind our members about the large amount of our annual operating budget (over 20%) that comes from money donated by former and present members over many years.  A short list of specific uses beyond the operating budget would include the Becker donation to revamp the HVAC system, the Rotkowski bequest to improve the audiovisual features in the auditorium, the Fisher bequest to buy the Boston upright piano, and the use of gift annuity money from over 20 people to build the family bathroom, among other things.

Steve Harris

The last time I gave opening words, I dressed as the grim reaper and tried to give a humorous pitch to remind people that we are all eventually going to die and so we ought to be thinking of the Ethical Society when we do our estate planning. I had no idea then of the coming pandemic and that we would all be meeting on Zoom instead of in person. This has been a stressful time for all of us and I personally really miss meeting with all of you in person instead of in this Zoom “room” that we now do.

I also realize that some people may have lost their jobs and hence their income, so this is also a financial disaster for probably at least some of you. But eventually the pandemic will be over with and hopefully things will get back to more or less “normal.” And the Ethical Society will still be here.

So, I wanted to briefly tell you all a little of what the Ethical Society means to me personally. Aside from the simple fact that I feel that the members of this congregation are some of the most intelligent and really the warmest group of people I’ve ever met, I really appreciate what the Ethical Society stands for and represents. For me, that includes a commitment to rational dialogue and concern for our fellow humans regardless of what race they are, their sexual orientation, or their ethnic background.

In short, the Ethical Society is dedicated to not only celebrating this life and enjoying what it has to offer, but it also represents a way of thinking that looks to the future and to what we all might do together to make the world a better place. My hope is that all of you will take a little time to consider what your legacy will be and how you might help to keep this community going in the future.

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.

Weekly Update 24-Jun-2020

June 25, 2020

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

“While our building is closed our community is open. “