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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Obsessed by Current Events, I Revisit the Past

By Harlan Garbell

I am writing this article in September 2020. The country is in the midst of a horrific seven-month long pandemic where the death toll has just reached 200,000. All of these folks died a horrible death leaving loved ones and friends to grieve. The economy is in tatters, with record numbers of people queuing up in their cars for hours to get a bag of groceries for their families. And of course, most of this could have been avoided if our incompetent, corrupt, and malevolent president would have just thought of others instead of his own political needs.

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New Member Spotlight: Candee Schlicht

Joined HumanistsMN: April 2020, shortly after meetings went online.

Profession/Residence: I am a software consultant specializing in web development. I live in Eden Prairie and have worked for several companies in Minneapolis and the western suburbs.

How she discovered us: I  had been visiting the website for a while before joining a meeting on mindful creativity.

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HMN Author Describes His Journey From Evangelical Pastor to Atheist

By Suzanne Perry

As someone who grew up in a religious household but became an atheist as a young adult, I’m drawn to stories about people who have made similar journeys. In The Rise and Fall of Faith, Drew Bekius brilliantly charts the highs (being true to yourself) and lows (losing connections to people and once-cherished institutions).

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A New Steampunk Murder Mystery from HMN’s Tyler Tork

Congratulations to Tyler Tork (aka HMN member Andre Guirard), whose new book is hot off the (digital) presses! Tyler describes Deep End as “a steampunk murder mystery-rebel kidnapping-stabby-poisoning romance adventure with rolling pins and spells.” The protagonist, Marlee, tries to keep family members who are scheming against her from suspecting she has no memory of …

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New Member Spotlight: Drew Bekius

Joined HumanistsMN: I moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago in October 2018 and started getting active in the local humanist community soon thereafter. Joined HumanistsMN in July 2020.

Profession/Residence: A former evangelical pastor, I served in nonprofit leadership roles and in personal coaching for a little over 20 years. I now work as a financial adviser to nonprofits and other high-impact professionals. I’ve also written a couple books and live with my two teenage daughters in St. Louis Park.

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Reimagining the ‘Dark Ages’ for the 21st Century

By Harlan Garbell

You remember the “Dark Ages,” don’t you? Not personally, of course, but from that World History course you took in high school, or perhaps college. In case you slept through that class, the Dark Ages was that period in European history between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, generally between the 5th and 14th centuries.

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I Remember Otto 

By Paul Heffron

Otto Link, a longtime HumanistsMN member, died in May in California. For inspiration by the life of an outstanding humanist, I encourage you to read the obituary just published in the StarTribune. I remember Otto in the many conversations we had at meetings, Winter Solstice parties, banquets, and picnics.

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Voting Information and Get Out the Vote Ideas

Hello, HumanistsMN Members:
As election season draws near, the coronavirus pandemic has underlined the importance of fighting for public policy that reflects humanist values, for example science-based decision-making, affordable health care, help for people in need, and racial equality.

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The Summer of Our Discontent

By Harlan Garbell

The American people are not very happy right now. This year the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) asked people about their personal happiness. Only 14 percent of the respondents indicated that they were “very happy,” the lowest on record. Moreover, 23 percent expressed unhappiness, the highest percentage recorded by NORC since 1972. I don’t think those of you reading this would find these findings particularly surprising considering the events of the past few months.  

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