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Democracy and war; Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 29, 2007

In 1902, Felix Adler asked “Two Ethical Questions” about the Philippine War: “Is it treason to condemn a war waged by our country while the war is still in progress?” and “Are civilized nations justified in adopting uncivilized methods of warfare?” Throughout our history, Ethical Culture has struggled with vital questions for a democracy at war, and the words of past Ethical Leaders (who have run the gamut from interventionist to pacifist) clearly are still relevant today.

This Sunday we’ll hear modern “translations” of Ethical Culture thoughts on war, from Adler’s day to the 2003 and 2006 resolutions against the Iraq War passed by the National Leaders Council and the American Ethical Union, and we’ll explore the decisions we need to make as ethical citizens today.

2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company2007 Humanist of the Year: Towards a Democracy of Art; Joan Lipkin, founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company

April 15, 2007

Today we honor Joan Lipkin as the 2007 Ethical Humanist of the Year. A playwright, director, teacher, activist and social critic, Lipkin has established several theater groups, including That Uppity Theatre Company and the DisAbility Project. Her work is devoted to creatively portraying the life dimensions of everyday people, including the lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, gay and questioning (LBTGQ) population, cancer survivors, those with disabilities, the indigent and racial or cultural minorities.

Lipkin puts the principles of cultural diversity and social justice into innovative theatrical practice as she collaborates with many underrepresented populations. Her works include “After Rodney,” which followed news coverage of the mid-1990s beating of Rodney King, “Some of My Best Friends Are…” the first gay and lesbian review produced in St. Louis, and many others. Her plays have been performed in several U.S. cities as well as in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. Lipkin is a mentor for those in arts administration, marketing, grant writing, playwriting, directing, and promoting social justice. She is passionate about involving others in the arts and has introduced many to acting and theater.

“Joan Lipkin was chosen for this award from a field of 10 exceptional nominees. All aspects of her art are imbued with humanist values and devoted to promoting social justice,” said Kayla Vaughan, chair of the Ethical Humanist of the Year Committee. “She is a performance/theater artist whose creative work helps these important messages become part of our public discourse.”

The James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In action)Award was established in 1976 to honor individuals or organizations for outstanding work in improving the human condition.

What’s so funny? Kate Lovelady, Leader

April 1, 2007

There once was an Ethical Society
Whose platforms were models of propriety
But one April Fools’
They tried a new way
That made visitors doubt their sobriety.

Join us for a (mostly) light-hearted look at the serious subject of humor, one of the human animal’s most unique traits. Humor helps us cope with life’s troubles and lowers our psychological defenses. Learning to laugh at our own foibles is an essential part of wisdom.

Health care weekend – Patriotism, public health and health care; Fred Rottnek, MD

March 25, 2007

Dr. Fred Rottnek, chief physician in corrections medicine for St. Louis County and physician to many of the area’s poor and indigent, has worked on the frontline of the nation’s growing health care crisis. He sees the toll exacted by the state of Missouri on its most helpless citizens. In 2006, Missouri cut almost 100,000 people from Medicaid, the first state to do so. Without this safety net, many don’t have access to the most basic health care. Nearly 50 million Americans and a million Missourians are unable to afford health insurance. Dr. Rottnek questions a brand of patriotism consisting of weaponry and war while ignoring the health of its citizenry. Believing the country and state can do a better job of maintaining the common good, he makes a case for adequate health care for everyone.

In addition to his post with St. Louis County, Dr. Rottnek is the director of Community Services at the Institute for Research and Education in Family Medicine and the assistant director of the Master of Arts in Health Care Ministry program at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis.

Dr. Rottnek was awarded the James F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year (now termed Ethics In Action) Award in 2006 for his advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and underserved in the St. Louis area.

Ethical Sex; Kate Lovelady, Leader

March 18, 2007

America has a difficult relationship with sex. On the one hand, sexualized images are everywhere and are an important fuel for our desire-based economy; more conservative countries complain that our images and attitudes are corrupting their cultures. On the other hand, many politicians, preachers, and educators build careers on trying to convince Americans–particularly American youth–to re-embrace our Puritan past; more liberal countries find our sexual attitudes and policies to be unscientific and even dangerous.

Personally and as citizens, we all make decisions about sex: who should have it, when, how, with whom, under what circumstances. Ethical decisions need to be conscious and informed; therefore we need to start with some fundamental questions: What is sex for? What is “good” and “bad” sex in an ethical sense? Where do people’s assumptions about sex come from? To what extent is the issue of sex in America not really about sex at all, but about other things: power; idealizations of childhood; assumptions about women’s and men’s roles, about sexuality and orientation, about families? What are the hidden beliefs and agendas behind much of today’s “sexuality police”?

“When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.” – Matt Groening

All in the same room: Creating a center for ethics; Ira Kodner MD and Stuart Yoak, PhD

March 11, 2007

Founded in 2003, the Center for the Study of Human Values and Ethics at Washington University is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program with a mission to advance the understanding of the most complex and troubling ethical issues facing society. The Center works with students, faculty, and community leaders in all professions providing education, research, community outreach, and service in ethics and human values.

Dr. Ira J. Kodner is Director of the Center and the Solon and Bettie Gershman Professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Washington University. After 20 years of teaching medical students ethical and compassionate care of their patients, he became a consultant and author for the American College of Surgeons curriculum for teaching ethics to surgery residents. Dr. Kodner has published more than 100 scientific articles relating to colorectal diseases. The recipient of many honors for accomplishments in medicine and teaching, he also serves as a Chief Medical Consultant for KMOV-TV and serves as attending in the Surgery Clinic at St. Louis Connect Care.

Dr. Stuart Yoak is the Executive Officer for the Center and Lecturer in Professional Ethics at Washington University. In addition to his work at the Center, Professor Yoak teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in ethics at Washington University. He chairs the Biomedical Ethics Committee at Christian Hospital in St. Louis and is actively involved in patient-physician case consultations and education for the hospital. He consults regularly with corporate leaders and gives presentations to professional meetings on ethical decision making.

Media matters: How the media affect kids and what parents can do about it; Ken Haller, MD

February 25, 2007

Ken Haller, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Haller worked in community health centers in East St. Louis, IL, for 10 years before moving to Saint Louis University. He was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1990 and 1998 for his work in underserved areas and is the recipient of the 1990 Illinois State Medical Society Public Service Award as well as the 2006 Excellence in Pediatrics Award from the Saint Louis Pediatric Society. Dr. Haller has been a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Matters Task Force since 2001 and speaks frequently to professional and community groups about the effects of media on kids.

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.” – Garrison Keillor

Valentine for humanity; Kate Lovelady, Leader

February 18, 2007

Wednesday of this past week was of course Valentine’s Day, and therefore the topic of love has been in the air. When we think of love we tend to think of close personal relationships, but what are the deeper connections between the human capacity for love and ethics? In this platform address, with the help of the words of poets, philosophers, and Ethical Culture leaders, we’ll explore the idea that ethics–underneath all the fancy jargon–is unconditional love for humanity, and that this love is the true common ground between religious idealism and secular utilitarianism. Perhaps it’s true that all we need is love.

“I truly feel that there are as many ways of loving as there are people in the world and as there are days in the life of those people.” – Mary S. Calderone

“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” – Matsugi Saotome

Darwin Day: Darwin confronts intelligent design; George Johnson, PhD, Washington University

February 11, 2007

Few topics in science are more familiar to the general public than evolution, and few are more often misunderstood. The teaching of evolution in Missouri science classrooms has been under attack by proponents of “intelligent design,” who argue that living things are too complex to have arisen without the intervention of an intelligent designer. A bill was passed out of committee in the Missouri legislature last session with a “DO PASS” recommendation that would facilitate the teaching of this view in our state. It is interesting to speculate how Darwin might have responded to the authors of this bill today.

Dr. George Johnson is Professor of Biology at Washington University where he has taught biology and genetics to undergraduates for 30 years. Also Professor of Genetics at Washington University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Johnson is a student of population genetics and evolution, renowned for his pioneering studies of genetic variability. He is the author of more than 50 scientific publications and seven texts. St. Louisans are familiar with Dr. Johnson as the author of a weekly science column, ON SCIENCE, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and as the founding director of The Living World at the St. Louis Zoo.

The pursuit of equality; Rudy Nickens, Director of the Black Repertory Company

February 4, 2007

Rudy Nickens is an experienced facilitator, educator and entrepreneur, with a strong background in cultural diversity, business management and community development. Currently, Mr. Nickens serves as Executive Director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company. Prior to this position, he was vice president of St. Louis 2004, a civic organization created to act as a catalyst for community development. While with St. Louis 2004, he worked on initiatives related to Workforce Diversity, Zero Tolerance for Hate and the Ceasefire Program to Reduce Youth and Gang Violence. Since 1993, Mr. Nickens has taught in the School of Communications and Media Studies as a member of the Adjunct Faculty of Webster University and lent his skills as an educator to Planned Parenthood of St. Louis as well as the National Conference of Community and Justice.

For the past 20+ years, he has consulted, educated and trained several local and national organizations in the areas of workforce diversity, leadership development, cultural competence and conflict resolution throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Mr. Nickens continues to be very active in the community serving on various boards including Diversity Awareness Partnership, Missouri Restorative Justice and Black Leadership Roundtable, The Institute for Peace and Justice and SSM Health System.

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