Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
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.
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.
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