Category: Board Commentary

HMN Members Offer Appreciation, Advice at Annual Meeting

Happy Summer, fellow humanists! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the weather and perhaps have even found the silver lining in the excessive rain (less garden maintenance?). At May’s annual meeting, we dedicated time to group table discussions to gather feedback and suggestions. As we grow, we want to grow in the right direction.

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A New Phase for HMN: Paid Staff (And We Need Your Help)

Humanism as we know it is certainly not a new concept, but I’ve often felt that it lived in relative obscurity. Relatable, but requiring an explanation; simply not a household name. And while one might argue that it is still not a commonplace term amongst the general public, humanism has become increasingly applicable in society – both with the rising numbers of the religiously unaffiliated as well as the palpable need for reason and compassion in our society.  

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Music for Humanists: Connecting with Art That Reflects Your Values

By Ellie Haylund

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

How much does music orchestrate your life? Do you create it? Do you attentively listen to …

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Putting Humanist Values to Work to Defend Democracy

Hello, humanist friends! In January, we kicked off 2024 with a phenomenal speaker at our Community Gathering – author, scholar, and podcast host Bradley Onishi. His presentation focused on white Christian nationalism and authoritarianism. It was compelling, informative, and motivating.

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A New Year’s Resolution for HMN: a Plan to Grow and Thrive

Happy New Year, HumanistsMN members and friends! I’ve never been big on resolutions. I tend to set personal goals for myself arbitrarily throughout the year to varying degrees of success. But I appreciate the benefit of structured goals — whether that means a distinct timeline with a beginning and an end, or something collaborative with accountability.

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HMN Commits to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Ellie Haylund and Audrey Kingstrom

As HumanistsMN continues to grow and thrive, we want to ensure that we welcome and support all people, including those who are underrepresented or marginalized.

Toward that aim, the HMN Board has adopted a Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and voted to set up an …

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Can a Humanist Be Self-Centered?

By Ellie Haylund

I recently had to evaluate myself (*shudder*).

My employer issues a survey called a Culture Index to all staff periodically. It is meant to determine how you operate in a professional setting. We use this information so we know how to successfully work together based on our different strengths. If you …

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Notes from the AHA Conference: Cultivating a Nationwide Community

By Ellie Haylund

Earlier this month, I and several other HumanistsMN members descended on Denver for the American Humanist Association’s annual conference. This year’s theme was “Crossroads and Collective Futures.” I’d never attended the conference before and was eager to connect with other humanists from across the country.

The program sessions were wide-ranging. Topics included …

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Avoiding Meat: Just a Short Journey from Humanism

It is no surprise to me that many humanists are vegetarians. Preserving the lives of animals feels like a natural byproduct of a worldview that values compassion and ethics. Even outside of humanism, avoiding meat is becoming increasingly common. According to studies done by the sustainable lifestyle app abillion, “In the past two years, we’ve…seen the growing prominence of flexitarians, pescatarians and omnivores in the plant-based market. These consumer groups are called reducetarians. In simple terms, they are people who actively reduce their intake of meat and animal-based products, but do not completely give up meat or dairy.”

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Free Speech Cases Highlight Dangers of Catering to Religious Sensitivities

Given its location and relevance, you’ve probably heard of the January debacle at Hamline University. You probably haven’t heard as much about the album poster censored across the pond, but we’ll tackle that after the rundown of this first case. For those unfamiliar with why Hamline is in the news, or for those interested in reviewing the timeline with some more detail, here’s a  summary of what happened:

Back in September, adjunct Art History Professor Erika López Prater disseminated an 11-page syllabus warning students that she would show historical art depicting religious figures, including the Prophet Muhammad, and offering to work with students should they feel uncomfortable with viewing these images.

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A Time of Momentum for HMN and Secularism

Happy New Year! I’d like to enthusiastically thank you all — dues-paying members, event goers, volunteers, generous donors, the Board, committee chairs and participants, fellow humanists, and newsletter readers. You not only help to make our organization thrive, but each play an important role in raising awareness about spreading our values into the community and the world. I cannot wait for 2023. We are seeing unprecedented momentum in HumanistsMN and in secularism overall.

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Yes, We Are ‘Star Stuff.’ But Remember the Spirit of Love.

From time to time, a powerful series of quotes by Carl Sagan pass through my mind:

“As long as there have been humans, we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

“All of the rocks we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star stuff.”

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

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Are Armchair Activists Really So Bad?

Marie sees that Roe v. Wade was overturned. She heads to Instagram and posts about her outrage. Her post gets dozens of “likes,” but within a day, it has become buried in people’s feeds and minds. Carl also finds out about Roe v. Wade and springs into action behind his phone screen. He finds a reputable organization to donate to and posts a link on Facebook. Friends and acquaintances see this post and are inspired. They donate a cumulative $500 via his link.

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My Goals as President: Increase Awareness of Humanism, Attract More Young People

I’m honored to be writing my first column as president of HumanistsMN. I first want to thank my predecessor, Harlan Garbell, for his steadfast leadership. It’s been an honor to serve as his vice president and observe his dedication to our organization, encouragement of new ideas, and commitment to the mission of growing the humanist community. I’m inspired by how he has empowered people to grow, get involved, and help us reach new heights. I aim to carry the momentum maintained by presidents past with enthusiasm, creativity, and a profound belief in the tenets of humanism.

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Winning the Lottery

There is a genre of fiction called “alternate history” (sometimes referred to as “alternative history”). You no doubt have either read a novel or watched a movie or television program based on an alternate history of events. Some of these books or programs are very good, some not. But they all challenge us to see the world as it might have been had someone made a different choice, or had chance intervened to change the trajectory of human events. As I have aged and looked back on my own life, I have often marveled at how things could have been so different had I made just one different choice.

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