Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
Loss of innocence—the disillusionment that occurs when the world doesn’t live up to our expectations—can be one of the hardest experiences to grapple with. It can be shattering to discover that our view of things was too optimistic, that the world is worse than we believed. How can we go on after our innocence has been lost? How do we rebuild our worldview and our confidence?
As we go through life we gain knowledge and experience, and we lose the innocence we had as children. This is an important process in becoming mature people. Yet there is also an argument for striving to keep a version of that early innocence—a state of openness and “unknowing” that in Zen Buddhism is called Beginner’s Mind. When is it helpful to have such an attitude, and how can we cultivate it?
2019 Ethical Society of St. Louis Ethics in Action Award to Joyce Best, lifelong activist for peace, justice, and racial equality.
Joyce and her husband, Steve Best, worked together for many years on various social causes, and they raised their children at the Ethical Society of St. Louis. Joyce was an active member of the Committee on Racial Equality and was featured in the recent Missouri History Museum’s exhibit on the civil rights movement in St. Louis. She participated in sit-ins and other interracial actions, including helping to form the Freedom of Residence group in St. Louis.
Joyce was active in Mothers and Children Together, which sponsored visits of children with mothers in prison, and in her profession as a librarian, she helped establish a library at Pruitt-Igoe. She is a longtime active member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and with that group she helped establish a children’s peace camp in University City, planning and administrating the camp and working there each day as a volunteer for several summers. She also locally coordinates the national Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which recognizes children’s books that promote interracial harmony and world peace.
Joyce’s Ethical Society work includes serving on the Board of Trustees, and years of active participation in the Sunday School, including as volunteer director; in many committees, notably the Ethical Action Committee, and single-handedly administering the Gilpin Fund utility assistance program; and serving in multiple roles in the Tuesday Women’s Association. She continues to be a strong and persuasive voice of conscience at the Society.
Missouri tragically exemplifies the dangers of what happens when a slow but persistent effort to chip away at reproductive autonomy succeeds. Our current reality should be a lesson to others. We are fighting an abortion ban, universally felt to be one of the most restrictive bans across the United States. We are simultaneously defending the license of Missouri’s last abortion-providing clinic from regulatory attacks. And we are navigating illegal attempts by the legislature to deny payment for services rendered. We are helping Missourians understand the impact of a federal policy specifically designed to attack our nation’s only safety net program providing well people care and contraception. We have not arrived at this point by chance. In this hour we will discuss that evolution, where we are now, and what we do next.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas completed medical school at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist and completed her residency and family planning fellow-ship at Washington University School of Medicine where she later served as faculty for six years. She currently holds the position of chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. She provides gynecology, family planning, abortion, LGBTQIA care, and abortion services across the Midwest including MO, OK, and KS. Dr. McNicholas is also a clinical researcher focused on non-traditional provision of Long Acting Reversible Contraception. Lastly, she spends a great deal of time on reproductive health, rights, and justice advocacy, centering patients experiences and needs in the conversation of health care policy.
Human beings have always been fascinated by the question of our own origins: how did we come to be? Throughout history different cultures have created many stories to explain the birth of humankind. In this Platform we will examine some of these creation stories, to see what we can learn from the myths we have told about our ourselves.
Come learn about the Ethical Society’s themes for the 2019-20 year and how they relate to our lives personally and as a community.
For this year’s “compare and contrast” Platform address, we’ll look at what Ethical Humanism has in common with and where it differs from Christianity, in its many forms. Some of the founders of the first Ethical Societies had Christian backgrounds, and many members today grew up in Christian households of one kind or another. Christianity is also still the dominant religion in America. What is the relationship between Ethical Humanism and Christianity today?
Ethical Humanism was founded as a new religion, a revolution in religious thinking which put people at the center, rather than God. Yet today, many would consider Humanism a non-religious philosophy, given that we do away with so much that is central to traditional religions. So what to do? How should Ethical Humanism – and Humanists in general – relate to religion?
Black Nonbelievers was founded in 2011 to provide support and increase the visibility of black atheists and religion doubters. Mandisa Thomas will discuss the organization’s historical context, its founding, its work, and her vision for the future.
Mandisa Thomas, a native of New York City, is the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., Mandisa encourages more blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. Mandisa has many media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and Playboy, The Humanist, and JET magazines. In 2019, Mandisa was the recipient of the Secular Student Alliance’s Backbone Award, and named the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Freethought Heroine.
In modern culture, the concept of a spiritual dimension to life is commonly associated with religion, the supernatural, or new age concepts. But more and more, the idea that there can be spirituality without religion, and without any appeal to the supernatural, is being recognized by non-believers as a fundamental quality necessary for living a fulfilling and meaningful life. It may finally be time reclaim the idea of spirituality and its benefits for humanists.
Rich Feldenberg, M.D., is an Associate Professor and Pediatric Nephrologist, at St. Louis University School of Medicine, where he cares for children with kidney disease and conducts research on the genetics of birth defects in the kidneys. He grew up in St. Louis and has been passionate about science from an early age. His other interests are cycling, philosophy, and writing. He also leads the Science Enthusiasts Club at the Ethical Society each month.
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