Category: Featured

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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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What I Want for Christmas

Robert Ingersoll, known as “The Great Agnostic,” was a prominent lawyer and 19th century orator who drew huge crowds to hear his lively denunciations of religion. He published the following essay in The Arena literary magazine in 1897:

If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves.
I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting for God — is not infallible — but is just an ordinary Italian.

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A Humanist’s Take on ‘The Meaning of Life’

A seeker has learned that the wisest guru in all of India lives atop India’s highest mountain. It’s incredibly steep, and after many travails and hardships, including bitter cold and hunger, the seeker finally reaches the top. And there’s the guru, sitting cross-legged in front of his cave. 

Oh, wise guru, the seeker says, I have come to ask you what the meaning of life is. Ah, yes, the meaning of life, the guru says. The meaning of life is a teacup. A teacup? I came all the way up here to find the meaning of life and you tell me it’s a teacup? The guru shrugs, it isn’t?

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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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HumanistsMN Condemns Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

HumanistsMN condemns the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the significant degree of bodily autonomy that Roe v. Wade had granted for nearly 50 years — the right to have an abortion before a fetus would be viable outside the womb. The 6-to-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected to lead to abortion bans or severe restrictions in about half of U.S. states.

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HMN Denounces Supreme Court Rulings Eroding Separation of Religion and Government

HumanistsMN denounces the U.S. Supreme Court decision this week in favor of a high school football coach who led Christian prayers on the playing field surrounded by public high school students. We echo our parent organization, the American Humanist Association: the 6-3 decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District basically moots the Establishment Clause of …

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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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The Strongman Cometh

Like many of you, I have been closely following the horrific war between Russia and Ukraine these past few weeks. The world has indeed been outraged by the unjust and extreme level of violence targeted at a people who just want a country of their own. What kind of person could unleash such death and destruction to so many people without remorse? Perhaps the following vignettes will give you an insight on the character of the man who unleashed this carnage on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin.

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Contemplating Non-Existence

Many years ago I had an existential crisis — literally. It dawned on me that I would actually die. Maybe not the next day, or the next year, but I would certainly die. Of course, part of growing up is learning that every living being has to eventually die. But, strangely, on some level, I thought that death would not apply to me. (This is different from thanatophobia, which is fear of death.) Psychologists will tell you this is not an uncommon experience. After all, the only reality that I had ever known, or could comprehend, was my own existence through conscious awareness. I couldn’t really comprehend non-existence. Nor did I really want to.

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America’s Historical and Racial Reckoning

scene from a protest

America is becoming more diverse. That’s obvious. But did you know that for the past decade, demographers have been projecting that by 2045 the majority of the U.S. population will be non-White? And now, those projections are becoming a reality. Data from the 2020 census  indicate that almost 53 percent of the U.S. population under 18 identifies as non-White. While Minnesota is less diverse than the nation as a whole, in the metro region especially but also across the state, the non-White youth population is growing significantly.

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