Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
What does it mean to be “real” in the digital age? As more people leave the institutions that once helped many of us find meaning and belonging—opting out of religious communities and civic organizations—and move their search for realness to the internet instead, it’s easy to worry. After all, we hear over and over that our digital lives are “fake,” even though so much of who we are and what we do for work and play now happens online. Alternately, others say that technology will make us fuller, better versions of ourselves, if we just put our faith in it. But perhaps neither group gets it exactly right. Perhaps the internet is a new tool for understanding and expressing ourselves, and that the not always-graceful ways we use this tool can reveal new insights into far older human behaviors and desires. In this talk, author and activist Chris Stedman will invite us to consider the ways we use the internet to fulfill the essential human need to feel real. The digital search for meaning and belonging presents challenges, he will argue, but also myriad opportunities to become more human.
Chris Stedman is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious (2012) and the forthcoming IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (2020) and has written for The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, VICE, and The Washington Post. Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community, he also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and is currently a fellow at Augsburg University. Learn more at chrisstedmanwriter.com.
There are many ethical questions related to the topic of making a living, and we’ll explore several of them in this Platform: Is meaningful work a human right? To what extent should education and work serve the economy, and to what extent should an economy serve education and workers? How much should you weigh ethics when choosing how to make your living? And how does your spending rate affect your ability to make ethical decisions related to work?
Is the American Dream still alive for our region’s immigrants and refugees? While many foreign-born arrive in St. Louis with economic, educational and cultural assets, what resources are essential to restore hope and dignity to those foreign-born newcomers who are victims of persecution or war? Join Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis, where staff, volunteers, and the wider community have welcomed thousands of immigrants and refugees and helped them find their best path toward self-sufficiency and successful integration.
The Ethical Society of St. Louis is the largest Ethical Society—and one of the largest Humanist congregations—in the world. We don’t often reflect on our status as a major Humanist cultural institution, but in this Platform—the second of our annual Pledge Drive Platforms—we will look at how our Ethical Society is inspiring the Humanist movement more broadly, and how we could play a bigger role in the future.
Historically, the Rite of Passage ceremony has served to initiate a person into a society or community. Typically, this pivotal point in a person’s life happens within a group. Sometimes the group is enacting upon one person, sometimes the whole group itself is involved in the process. In the end, there is usually growth, a heightened sense of development and awareness, and possibly a change in social status. But what do Rites of Passage look like now, in this modern age? We are so consumed by media and technology that even our minuscule social interactions have changed. How has this affected our development? How has this affected our ability to empathize?
Antigone Chambers Reed is a poet and writer, actor, and human rights activist. Based in Saint Louis, she has lived in both Memphis and New Orleans. In her down-time, she enjoys cooking, film, and traveling. She performs poetry with Saint Louis Story Stitchers, a group that addresses the roots of gun violence and seeks to uplift affected communities through media enter-tainment. She is also an actor with the Bread and Roses Workers Theater. As of right now, she is competing to become the next Saint Louis Youth Poet Laureate.
Marriage has been one of the major Rites of Passage for people in every part of the world. Yet today more and more people, those with and without partners, are choosing not to marry. Why is this? What are the pros and cons of getting hitched? And what effects might a shrinking percentage of married people have on a country?
For millennia, people have celebrated the turning of the year as one of the most important rites of passage in the calendar. But why do we organize our years as we do, and what significance do different cultures place on the new year? How can we use the turning of the year as a time of renewal and regeneration?
Human potential is a central concept of Ethical Humanism: We believe that human beings have the potential to grow, improve, and change our circumstances. But what are the limits of our potential? How far does human potential extend, and how can we realize it best? In this Platform we’ll explore the idea of “human potential” and learn some ways to maximize our own.
Come learn the newest news about the Uganda Humanist Schools and how the Ethical Society is helping bring out the potential in young lives across the world. We will also celebrate the legacy of member and educator Ed Schmidt.See the related slide show (PDF, 500kb).
Documenting the evolution of teens and media from the 1950s through 2010, Don Miller’s book Coming of Age in Popular Culture examines the films, books, television shows, and musical artists that affected American culture and shaped the “coming of age” experience for each generation. Don is a local author, playwright, and Webster University professor, and he will share various examples from pop culture media that are tied to ethical issues, spanning six decades of recent history.
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