HumanistsMN Financial Report

The HumanistsMN board has agreed to publish regular financial reports in this newsletter. This report covers the first seven months of our fiscal year (June to December 2020).

Income: $7,106.  Same period in 2019: $8,721.  (Decrease of 19 percent.)
Expenses: $1,588. Same period in 2019: $7,827. (Decrease of 80 percent.)
Net Income: $5,518. Same period in 2019:  $893. (Increase of 518 percent.)
Total Assets: $44,993 (savings, checking and investments). No liabilities.

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Short Take: Book on Tyranny Offers Lessons for Today

By Mary McLeod

Book review:  On Tyranny;  Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,  by Timothy Snyder

This is a quick read, only 128 pages, packed with signs, actions, and phrases to watch for and stand up against.  It’s also a tiny book, only about  5 1/2 ”x 4”, so easy to slip into a pocket or purse. 
The lessons are taken largely from the rise of the Nazis:  how they did it, and how the population made it easy for them.  Some of the chapters also bleed into our knowledge of the Trump era. 

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December 2020: Humanists Gather to Reclaim the Holiday Season

By Audrey Kingstrom

Most of us were literally home for the holidays this year. Covid kept us from getting together for the “Festivus for the Rest of Us” holiday party that HumanistsMN has hosted in recent years. Nonetheless, we still gathered virtually to reclaim the holiday season for ourselves. The Zoom-room full of people who met just a couple days before the Winter Solstice shared with each other all that we love about the season – and why it remains meaningful despite our nonbelief.

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Federal Aid Skewed Toward Red and Small States

By George Kane and Mary McLeod

The Republican resistance to “blue state bailouts” during recent Congressional debates over a coronavirus aid package prompts a question: Which states are most dependent on the federal government, and receive more in payouts than they contribute to the nation in federal taxes? As a corollary, which states contribute more to the national budget than they receive? And do the answers correlate to the dominant political party in the states?

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HumanistsMN: Moving Forward into 2021

The year 2020 was one of those years that will forever be associated with an indelible historical event. Similar to 1945 as the end of World War II and 2001 as the year of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. At some point, historians will tabulate the dreadful toll in deaths, illnesses, lost jobs, and bankrupt businesses that 2020 left in its wake due to Covid-19.

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November 2020: Building Wealth in Minority and Immigrant Communities

Economist and cultural entrepreneur Bruce Corrie spoke at our November Community Gathering about ways to build capacity and bolster wealth in ailing African, Latino, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) communities. Those communities have been hit hard by Covid-19 and the resulting economic losses as well as by the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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HMN Members Donate More Than $10,000 to Food Drive

Due to the generosity of our members, HumanistsMN in November raised $10,695  to help relieve hunger during the COVID-19 crisis. This included $5,000 from  our “angel” anonymous donor. The amount was matched by the Schulze Family Foundation, resulting in a total contribution of $21,390 to the Second Harvest Heartland food bank.

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New Member Spotlight: Alfred (Alfy) Wolfram

Joined HumanistsMN: November 2020 Profession/Residence: I began my professional career as a teacher of American history, speech, and theater in high school.  After a decade, with a wife and new baby to support, I decided to go into business.  I spent 23 years in insurance and investments.  However, all the while I only wanted to …

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When Myth Becomes Mass Delusion

By Harlan Garbell

In retrospect, growing up in post World War II America was like winning the historical lottery. The United States emerged from the war as the single most dominant nation in the world. Rival countries in Europe and Asia were left shattered and it would take many years for them to recover. The mainland United States, bounded by two large oceans, was never seriously threatened during this most destructive war in world history. Our industrial base remained intact and our wartime economy was running on all cylinders.

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Reflections on Fate, Hubris, Betrayal, and Falling Off Camels

By Harlan Garbell

Recently I read an article that mentioned a scene from the great 1962 historical epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” the film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. In this scene a man has fallen off his camel during the night in the desert and is inadvertently left behind by his comrades, presumably to die. Lawrence (played by Peter O’Toole) wants to go back and look for him. Sherif Ali, the Bedouin leader (played by Omar Sharif) objects. Another Bedouin agrees: “Gasim’s time has come, Lawrence. It is written.” Lawrence angrily replies: “Nothing is written.”

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October 2020: Religious Nationalism and the Threat to Democracy

Journalist and author Katherine Stewart spoke about her research into Christian nationalism at our October Community Gathering, warning that the Religious Right seeks political power by attaching itself to issues like abortion. Author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, she said its leaders promote the notion that religion makes us great, not a democratic system of government.

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New Member Spotlight: Asmaa Radwan (Our First International Member)

Joined HumanistsMN:  September 2020.

Profession/Residence: I am a student in Arabic literature, working to be a writer in the near future. I live in Egypt.

How she discovered us:  I discovered HumanistsMN through an American friend who invited me to a Secular Saturday gathering. This was after we had a discussion about religion and the importance of making change to solve existing problems.

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HumanistsMN Statement on Systemic Racism

The HumanistsMN board has adopted the following statement:

HumanistsMN affirms that every person, regardless of race or ethnicity, has the right to thrive and flourish. Ensuring these rights can only be achieved through a sustained commitment to racial, social, and economic justice.

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September 2020: The Internet and Being Human

Humanist author and activist Christ Stedman discussed “What the Internet Can Teach us About Being Human” at our September Humanist Community Gathering.  More people, he noted, are moving their search for connection and significance away from communal institutions to more individualized digital spaces — but grappling with how to present themselves online.

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I Remember Vern

By Paul Heffron

I learned in late September from a Facebook posting by HumanistsMN member Steve Petersen that Vern Young had died on March 31 at age 93. Vern probably died in a health care center and evidently no one did an obituary. I couldn’t find one and neither could Steve. I met Vern sometime during the 1990s when he came to a Minnesota Atheists meeting for the first time. He said he’d been an atheist for a long time but had kept it to himself and was very happy he could now be open about it and be part of an atheist group.

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