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Truth is the holy grail; James Hoggard

September 18, 2005

Knowledge is important. More knowledge is available to us than to any previous generation. What is the best way to sort fact from fiction? Why is that important?

Rational thinking and observation help us learn the nature of reality. Sadly, this is not always the approach taken, even though the application of science is so obvious in almost everything that distinguishes our modern age. Many people believe that certain propositions that were decided in more primitive times should not be subject to reexamination. The speaker believes truth is paramount, that it is always tentative and the best means at our disposal should be employed in its pursuit.

James Hoggard received degrees from college and seminary in pursuit of the career of Christian minister. After serving in that capacity for 13 years, he left the ministry and turned his hobby of tinkering with automobiles into a new career. He operated Hoggard’s Car Place in St. Louis for 25 years, before retiring in 1998. He joined the Ethical Society of St. Louis in 1976.

Remembrance: The anatomy of a memory, Don Johnson, Leader

June 12, 2005

Individual memory and collective memory are necessary for our individual and cultural identity. To remember is to bring alive again the past, as well as move us toward a future. To remember is to re-participate. If our lives are to have a coherent meaning, memory will be at work in us. With no sense of personal or social history, the fabric of our lives unwinds and disintegrates.

The Dance Of Relationships; Don Johnson, Leader

May 8, 2005

Relationships of all kinds are like a dance. Some faith traditions, such as Hinduism, emphasize the interrelationship, richness and beauty of all of life. We must have within us the knowledge of what makes relationships succeed, be attentive to the movements of the other persons and fill our relationships with spontaneity and richness.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

How much is good enough?; Anne Klaeysen, Leader Long Island Ethical Society

April 24, 2005

Ethical Culture founder Felix Adler’s early idealism was, to a large extent, superceded in the following century by philosophies of naturalism and pragmatism. What does that transition really mean to most of us? Some faith traditions root their authenticity, and base their practices, on authoritative tests. Ethical culture faith rests on a combined study of philosophy, ethics and science. From whence come our religious authenticity and authority? On what basis do we form our traditions and practices? Leader Anne Klaeysen examines the shift from an ideal or perfectibility to a concept of wholeness and asks the question: “How much is good enough?”

Anne Klaeysen is Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. She is a graduate of the Humanist Institute and holds Masters degree in German from the State University of New York at Albany and Business Administration from New York University. This spring Anne will complete work towards a Doctor of Ministry from Hebrew Union College in New York City.

Ecology: Toward a Continuous Harmony; Don Johnson, Leader

April 10, 2005

The guiding religious and ethical principle in ancient Egypt was centered around the role of harmony. The issue of ecology is essentially an ethical and religious issue of creating and maintaining a harmonious relationship with all of life. Reinhold Niebuhr defined evil as “the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole, whether the whole be conceived as the immediate community or the total community of humankind, or the total order of the world”. In ancient Egypt it was the people’s role to keep the world harmonious. What demand is the earth making on us today, what principles might guide us in fulfilling our role as stewards, and what benefits might come to us by being our best selves in relation to the earth?

Myths and Symbols; Don Johnson, Leader

December 5, 2004

Cultures all live with myths and symbols. What signifies a symbol and what are the traits it embodies and the role it plays? They point beyond themselves and participate with that to which they point. They open up levels of reality and the self otherwise unobtainable. Yet they cannot be intentionally produced and they have a limited lifespan. But can we live without them?

“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”

“One of the functions of mythology is supporting and validating the moral order of a certain given society. Well, what’s your group? What’s the society with which you associate? …. Are you hanging onto something from the third millennium BC or can you accept this challenge of the present moment? Open up and don’t be afraid to let down the walls and let your neighbor in, so that you aren’t defending yourself and your crowd against another system.”
– Joseph Campbell

“In fact, words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better.”
– John Haldane

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