February 7, 2016
Before Adam Gravois led us in a conversation about love, we sang a lively version of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Adam urged us to speak in concrete terms of our own experience(s) rather than in abstractions. We laughed, we cried, we ate Valentine candy. While romantic love was mentioned by several, others talked about the love in their lives for parents, siblings, children, and friends. (cp)
John Theiss presented a platform, Charity! Why?, to prepare for ESOA’s giving month–February. During February, ESOA members will give additional funds for specific charitable organizations, giving over and above the amounts donated each to ESOA for programs and operations. John talked about levels of giving (ESOA, within our local community, internationally). In 2015, ESOA supported Unganda Humanist School, Doctors without Borders, Kiva, and Heifer.
In the broader context, John talked about why people gave and wanted to give, patterns of giving in the community, and objections to charitable giving as a replacement for government responsibilities or “moral hazard.” These subjects continued in group discussion, as participants offered their insights through research or personal experience.
Technological serendipity led us to “Circles” as our song for the day.
January 24, 2016
Susan Theiss presented a platform/group discussion of the seventh of eight commitments for ethical culture: Democratic process is essential to our task. Susan presented the ethical perspective of democracy and its process in terms of personal activities, the functioning of the Ethical Society of Austin, and in the broader terms our nation. She then turned the presentation into a group discussion by asking such thought-provoking questions as:
The crisis we are in does not bode well for our democracy. Nor does it speak well for freedom, for democracy and freedom go hand in hand. We retain the structures of democracy, but substantively we appear to be an oligarchy, ruled by the plutocratic elite who buy and bend our politicians in support of their interests, who control the mass media that frames our political conscious and by politicians themselves whose narrow self-interests trump a statesman-like commitment to the common good. Are we a “Democracy” in name only?
Discussion included calls to action to bring ethics to the forefront of our public democracy. Appropriately enough and for the second week in a row, the day’s leader chose “Come Together” (Bart Worden) as our song. (CP)
January 17, 2016
The platform meeting focused on a review of Spirituality for the Skeptic, by Robert C. Solomon, facilitated by Trish Taylor, with members of the Board of Trustees serving as panelists. Each panelist presented highlights and commentary on individual chapters accompanied by questions for thought and discussion. The questions themselves were also presented as a slide show with complementary artwork, posted here for your additional review and consideration. (CP)
Spirituality for the Skeptic