Sunday, Jan. 23, 2PM
Clark Moeller spoke to the Humanist group yesterday about the ACLU - in particular, topics of recent or current interest involving the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU.
A growing ACLU concern is the proliferation of “fusion cells” to monitor individuals and groups on a local level and then pass on potentially seditious information to a branch of the federal government. Controversy regarding the ACLU’s position on the ‘Citizens United campaign-finance case’ was also discussed.
Attendance was low, largely because of competing cultural events and a brief but intense snow storm that occurred over the Brewster area around 1:30.
Mary Sheer is a former Chaplain of the Brewster Baptist Church, and is currently Chaplain in the Air National Guard, assigned to the 102 Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base in Sandwich. In her role as Chaplain, she was deployed to the Middle East in 2008, and was stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this joint setting, she served a variety of military members and Department of Defense personnel. It is from this context that Mary shared with us about the life of women in the Middle East.
April 25, 2010
The Struggle for Justice for Palestinians
Jeff Klein has a long history of political activity for peace and
justice, including solidarity with the victims of imperial war and
colonialism in Southeast Asia, Central America, Southern Africa and the
Middle East. He has traveled regularly to the Middle East and has spoken
about the Israel-Palestine conflict in schools, churches, community and
peace organizations, mosques and on local TV and radio. In July 2009 he
joined the Viva Palestina-US relief convoy to Gaza, which brought
humanitarian supplies under the leadership of British MP George Galloway.
Mr. Powicki is an energy consultant and is president of the Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative.
His talk addressed the current status and future potential of a full spectrum of renewable
technologies for electricity production, space heating and cooling, and transportation.
These renewable technologies include bio, geo, hydro, ocean, solar, tidal, waste, wave, and wind--
-both for this region and beyond.
Some Important & Current Civil Rights Issues
Ronal Madnick is Director of the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM), President of the Massachusetts Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and is a member of the AU National Advisory Board.
He will address a case now before the U.SO. Supreme Court concerning a Christian cross that sits atop Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve and the latest on the religious right. He also will address some of the most important issues being considered by the ACLU including racial profiling, the ACLU's representation of a famed "Survivor" winner held in jail because of unauthorized contact with the public, state and local collection of information, curfews for juveniles, the danger of the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act", arguments against torture, the latest on closing Guantanamo, and need for comprehensive reform of the Patriot Act.
Mr. Berkowitz was trained as a strategic intelligence analyst during the Vietnam War, and has had a long career in computer networks that deal with a wide variety of national security systems. He believes that public policy can best be served by an electorate that understands the basic principles and tradeoffs of intelligence, and that having such understanding does not compromise the country's defenses.
Discussions of Mexican immigration to the U.S. often blame the Mexican government for failing to provide economic opportunities at home for their own people. This ignores the important role the U.S. has played in imposing policies on Mexico that have displaced millions from their accustomed occupations and restricted job and income growth. In short, it is U.S. sponsored neoliberal economic policies that have fueled immigration. Dr. DuRand examined the impact of the 15 year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Mexican society, especially in the countryside.
Dr. DuRand is a Research Associate at the Center for Global Justice in central Mexico. For 40 years he was a professor of social philosophy at Morgan State University, a Black university in Baltimore. He has a long history in struggles for social justice both in this country and in the relations between the U.S. and the societies in the Global South. Many of his articles can be found at www.globaljusticecenter.org.
The sponsoring organizations include the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission, the Denominational Affairs and Social Justice Committees of First Parish Brewster, and the Humanists of First Parish Brewster and Cape Cod.
The Humanists of First Parish met on Sunday, May 31st at 2:00 PM in the Parish Room.
Our speaker was Rev. Edmund Robinson of the Meeting House in Chatham. His topic was "Enchantment Without Supernaturalism." To what extent do we want to have our cake and eat it too? To what extent do UUs want to reject supernatural explanations of physical and psychic phenomena and yet continue a belief in a soul, a spirit, a fount of creativity?
May 5, 2009
The Humanists of First Parish met on Tuesday, May 5th at 2:00 PM in the Parish Room. Our speaker was Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association. His topic was "How to grow Humanism in Our Faith-Based Society."
Mr. Speckhardt states "Religion in America is a sensitive topic. Some people demand that it be part of the public square and even preferred by the government over secular or rational views. In such a culture, practically any declaration by Humanists can be construed as offensive by someone. But if humanists believe their philosophy benefits humanity, isn't it important for others to hear our views?
Is it worth risking offense to spread the Humanist message? Can we be clear about our identity without rustling faithful feathers? Humanists, be they religious or secular in their approach to philosophy, can unite to bring humanism to the forefront of our faith-based society."
Roy currently serves as Executive Director for the American Humanist Association, the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation that's now focused on making our society more open and accepting of Humanists and is the publisher of the widely acclaimed Humanist magazine of critical inquiry and social concern.
Between 1995-2001, Roy worked for the Interfaith Alliance, in Washington, D.C., where he managed staff in the role of deputy director. The Interfaith Alliance is a national grassroots organization of people of faith and goodwill with a membership of over 150,000.
March 22, 2009
The Humanists of First Parish met on March 22nd at 2:00 PM in the Parish Room. The Reverend Bill Coleman spoke on the topic "Al Qaeda's Roots, Rise and Role in Islamic Terrorism."
Rev. Dr. William C. Coleman holds a B.A. from Baker University, Ks., a M.Div. From Hartford Theological Seminary, a D.Min. from Boston University and has done advanced study at the Jungian Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. He retired from active parish ministry in the United Methodist Church in 1998, having served a church in Kansas and five congregations in Massachusetts: Ludlow, South Hadley, Wellesley, Newton, and Arlington. He is a specialist in Islam and in pastoral counseling. He lives in Chatham with his spouse Dr. Roslyn Coleman.
The Humanists of First Parish met on January 25th at 2:00 PM in the Parish Room.
Our speaker was Professor Philip Fetzer,
Professor of Political Science Emeritus/California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
His topic was "An Interpretation of the 2008 Presidential Election"
Professor Fetzer stated: "A close examination of the vote suggests that the Democratic Party has the opportunity to dominate presidential elections for the foreseeable future."
Highlights of his talk included:
What was the role of race, age and gender in the election?
Voters in the South appear to be "out of the mainstream."
A "normal win": a comparison of the results with prior elections
"Perception is reality" – ideas matter!
Professor Fetzer has a BA in History/Princeton and a Ph.D. in Political Science/University of Oregon. He taught "Introduction to Politics" for 16 years. He has actively participated in numerous election campaigns: local, state and national. Recently he taught a two-part class on the 2008 election, "The Presidential Roller Coaster," for the Academy for Lifelong Learning at Cape Cod Community College.
November 23, 2008
The Humanists of First Parish met on November 23rd at 2:00 PM in the Parish Room. Our speaker was James Gross, President of Compassion and Choice of Greater Boston. His topic was "The History and Evolution of the Right to Die Movement"
Compassion and Choices of Greater Boston was established as the Greater Boston Hemlock Society in l988. It later evolved into End-of-Life Choices Boston, and now is known by the present name above. It is a chapter of Compassion & Choices, a national umbrella group of 30,000 members. The Boston chapter serves almost 600 members in Eastern Massachusetts.
Compassion and Choices of Greater Boston, through education, advocacy, information, and discussion of end of life problems, works to assure that every American adult can look forward to comfort, dignity and choice at the end of life. They aim to assure that no one is denied the option of a gentle and dignified death in the company of their loved ones.
James C. Gross, Esq., is an active practicing Boston attorney who became interested in end of life issues after reading an article about a very young child in terrible pain being denied medical treatment that doctors advocated as an appropriate part of the continuum of care for their patient when the end of life is in sight.
October 26, 2008
The Humanists of First Parish met on October 26th in the Parish Room. Our speaker was Ellery Schempp and his topic was "The Constitution and the Bible. - Reflections on the Separation of Church and State."
Ellery states "The Constitution does not mention God, Commandments, nor ask for divine blessings. It is a humanistic document, starting from "We the People... do ordain and establish..." The Bible never once mentions democracy, freedom of speech or freedom of religion--not even tolerance. It is a theological document that provides no basis for the Declaration of Independence or for our Constitution."
Ellery Schempp is a retired chemical physicist. He has taught in Europe and the United States, worked at the Lawrence Berkley Laboratories, General Electric Company and the American Superconductor Corporation.
Perhaps his crowning achievement was at the age of 16, at Abington Senior High School in Pennsylvania, refusing to stand for the reading of the Lord’s Prayer. This led to the 1963 Supreme Court case "Abington School District vs. Schempp." By an eight-to-one vote the justices ruled in June 1963 that organized Bible reading and prayer in the public schools violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
Ellery is an active member of the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Bedford, MA, the ACLU, the American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Secular Coalition for America.
The Humanists of First Parish and the American Humanist Association hosted a presentation by Dr. Paul R Gross, Professor Emeritus of Life Science of the University of Virginia and former Director and President of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. The subject of Dr. Gross’ talk was "Evolution 101, All You Wanted to Know About Evolution and More"
"Descent with modification" was Charles Darwin’s own definition of "evolution" as that general process by which life on Earth achieved its complexity and diversification. His "one long argument" (On the Origin of Species) in favor of the reality of evolution was published in 1859. Within a decade, the overwhelming majority of life scientists around the world had accepted the facts of evolution, if not yet Darwin’s proposed mechanism, which he dubbed "natural selection." Yet that has not prevented, from 1859 until today, unremitting attacks on the science. It is worthwhile, to review the basic facts of evolution from time to time, including the key questions of life’s history that Darwin asked himself.
In his lecture, Dr. Gross mentioned Ben Stein's recently released movie "Expelled", which addressed the argument between Evolution and Intelligent Design, and which Dr. Gross felt, was biased towards Intelligent Design. Coincidently, the movie was discussed in a column written by Cynthia Stead and published in the Cape Cod Times on 5/1/2008. To read Ms. Stead's column, go to:
For a very critical review of the movie "Expelled" written by Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, and published in the May 8th edition of the Boston Globe, go to:
Feb. 24, 2008
Rev. Justin Osterman
A Cancer on Our Democracy: What I Saw in Guantanamo
To read a copy of the sermon (and readings) that Rev. Justin Osterman presented at the two Sunday morning services on Feb. 24th, go to:
His remarks in the afternoon presentation to the Humanists were extemporaneous and were not recorded.
Jan. 27, 2008
Church State Relations
Due to snowy weather, this lecture was poorly attended. However, we intend to invite Ellery back so more of us can have the opportunity to hear his interesting lecture. In the meantime, you can read all about Ellery in a Tufts Magazine article. Please go to: