Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

September 2021 

First Sunday Meeting

September 5  Sunday 10:30 - 12:30 EDT 

Video conference meeting using Zoom

JOHN RAWLS, A THEORY OF JUSTICE presented by Marty Carcieri

Marty Carcieri will continue his presentation on Rawls with this month dealing with Nonideal Theory, which Rawls says agents behind the veil of ignorance would also address. This will concern issues like civil disobedience, militancy, conscientious refusal, and "just war" theory. These are implicated when people violate the rules of a reasonably just society. 

Bring your own snacks and coffee. 

Handout for this talk is here

Topic: September First Sunday with Marty Carcieri

Time: Sep 5, 2021 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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RET veteran Marty Carcieri is Professor of Political Science Emeritus at San Francisco State University. He is the author of  Applying Rawls in the Twenty-First Century: Race, Gender, the Drug War, and the Right to Die.


RET Skeptic Book Club


September 12     Sunday         4:00 – 6:00 pm   

Video conference meeting using zoom

Lightning Flowers

by Katherine E. Standefer


Lightning Flowers is a quest for an answer to the most basic human question: what is a life worth? For a young American woman, kept alive by a hunk of metal in her chest, the answer is to be found in the African mines that produce titanium, cobalt, nickel... the precious metals used to make our essential microelectronics, including heart defibrillators. No trial in this quest can be avoided: heartbreak and debt, culture shock and corporate empire, medical indifference and poverty, trauma and mortality. There is an alchemy of tender magic and brute force in Standefer's writing; Lightning Flowers transports us into the heart of Africa—and the heart of a woman forced to question our global, racialized economy even as she identifies the raw materials that give her life.”―Ann Neumann, author of The Good Death

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Third Sunday Meeting

September 19 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30

Video conference meeting using Zoom

This will be a "bring your own topic" meeting. 

In addition to a topic to discuss with others, bring your coffee and snack. 

Time: Sep 19, 2021 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Reflections Sunday Meeting

September 26 Sunday 4:30-6:00 PM EDT

Video conference meeting using Zoom

Truth Versus Belief

What are the real differences between truth and belief and how should we treat them?  In what regimes do they exist and what power should they have over our behavior and laws?  Can you oppress people because of the usefulness of beliefs in maintaining the social order or should truth, however troublesome, prevail?

Bring your thoughts and snack and see how this discussion unfolds.

*****************************************************************

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Tom Flynn

Free Inquiry editor,

author, secular humanist leader, dies at 66


Tom Flynn was the RET speaker

Nov. 15, 2014 

ANTI-CLAUS

The world has lost a towering figure of American freethought, a man who was both on the cutting edge of secular humanist thought, as well as the foremost caretaker of its rich history. The entire Center for Inquiry family is anguished by the sudden and unexpected death of our colleague, teacher, and friend Tom Flynn at age 66.

Tom held numerous leadership roles during his more than thirty years with the Center for Inquiry, most recently as editor of Free Inquiry magazine, director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and the Freethought Trail, and former executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism.

But this collection of titles does not nearly convey the plainer truth, which is that Tom Flynn was the beating heart of the Center for Inquiry and indeed the wider freethought movement.

A stark rationalist and staunch atheist if ever there was one, Tom was nonetheless brimming with enthusiasm, curiosity, bold ideas, and perhaps most of all, humor. He had a deep love and encyclopedic knowledge of freethought history and devoted himself to the preservation and rediscovery of American freethought’s great untold stories.

At the same time, he was a true visionary whose future-focused ideas about religion, atheism, equality, and the existential crises we face as a global civilization were once considered radical but now seem prescient. He was a virtuoso of the written word, penning not only countless articles and essays but also science fiction novels and the defiantly revelatory book The Trouble with Christmas.

Tom reveled in his various public personas, whether as a pugnacious stoker of controversy, a stubborn atheist curmudgeon (as with his infamous “Anti-Claus” alter-ego), or a wisecracking, avuncular coworker. But at his core, Tom was a man excited about big ideas, regardless of their popularity or public acceptance, and he was eager to share those ideas, bringing to them his unmatched combination of scholarship, eloquence, and humor.

Tom’s hero, Robert Green Ingersoll, once wrote, “A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains, he gives to others.” It will be a long time before there can ever be a full accounting of what Tom Flynn gave to all of us. Now Tom joins Ingersoll in what the Great Agnostic called “the perfect rest,” no longer as a mere admirer but as an equal.

RET members are invited by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the FFRF annual convention in Boston, November 19-21. Headliners include Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, Katherine Stewart, Phil Zuckerman, Linda Greenhouse, Megan Phelps-Roper and Steven Pinker.

Details at https://ffrf.org/outreach/convention.

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Edited by Sharron King: newsletter@rationalists.org.
Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.



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