RET News November 2017 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

November 2017


RET First Sunday Meeting

November 5          Sunday            10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

Stacy L. Clark, PhD, Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, The University of Tennessee will present a program on American Chestnut Restoration

An exotic pathogen, the chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica Murr. Barr), decimated the American chestnut (Castanea dentata Marsh. Borkh.) throughout eastern North America in the first half of the 20th century. American chestnut was a keystone species in the eastern hardwood forests, and its demise likely caused significant ecological changes, such as loss in the availability of hard mast. To date, planning for American chestnut restoration has emphasized producing a blight-resistant tree, but successful restoration also will require an understanding of the silvicultural parameters needed to regenerate the species.

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RET Skeptic Book Club

November 12         Sunday           2:004:00 p.m.                         

Books-A-Million at 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

"The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert

By burning fossil fuels, we are rapidly changing the atmosphere, the oceans, and the climate, forcing potentially millions of species into extinction.  Five watershed events in the deep past decimated life on earth, hence the designation "Sixth Extinction" for today's human-propelled crisis. (Review from


RET Third Sunday Meeting

November 19           Sunday           10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The RET third Sunday meeting in November will feature a DVD presentation from the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series by Dr. William Lobdel titled “How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace”.

William Lobdell’s journey of faith — and doubt — is one of the most compelling spiritual memoirs of our time. Lobdell became a born-again Christian in his late 20s when personal problems drove him to his knees in prayer. As a newly minted evangelical, Lobdell — a veteran journalist — noticed that religion wasn’t covered well in the mainstream media, and he prayed for the Lord to put him on the religion beat at a major newspaper. In 1998, his prayers were answered when the Los Angeles Times asked him to write about faith. What happened next was a roller-coaster of inspiration, confusion, doubt, and soul-searching as his reporting and experiences slowly chipped away at his faith. While reporting on hundreds of stories, he witnessed a disturbing gap between the tenets of various religions and the behaviors of the faithful and their leaders. He investigated religious institutions that acted less ethically than corrupt Wall Street firms. He found few differences between the morals of Christians and atheists. As this evidence piled up, he started to fear that God didn’t exist. He explored every doubt, every question — until, finally, his faith collapsed.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex


Recommended Reading

“Intersectionality” and “Identity Politics” are phrases we may often hear, but do we really understand what they mean? It’s very important for us to understand why these are relevant, especially now. The more we assume the experiences of others are like our own, the less we can relate to others. Please consider the following article written by American Humanist Association’s Social Justice Coordinator, Sincere Kirabo.


Important Messages

RET Meetup 

Rationalists of East Tennessee is now on, an online social networking site that allows people to find others who share common interests.  Check it out and join in at:

Freethought Forum TV

Freethought Forum TV, a community access television program in conjunction with the Atheist Society of Knoxville, is starting on its 8th year and can be seen in the Knoxville area on Comcast channel 12,  Wow channel 6, Charter channel 193, and AT&T U-verse and wherever the internet reaches at on most Tuesdays 5:00 PM Eastern time. Our program may be seen by viewers of all ages and engages those who might otherwise never know about alternatives to religious world views. Freethought Forum invites you to host or co-host a program or suggest a topic you wish to be presented.  Contact "Faithless" Forrest with your ideas.

Leaders Needed

Help RET continue in its mission of presenting a non-supernatural world view.  RET is the only area secular group with a significant emphasis on presenting programs that relate to science and scientific methodology.  If you want to influence the direction of RET, consider serving on the Board of Directors next year or helping organize our Sunday programs. Contact any current board member if you want to help.  


RET Skeptics Book ClubBooks List

[If you use these links to buy from Amazon, RET receives a rebate.] 

    Rationalists of East Tennessee Website

    Information about the workings of RET is available online to members. Minutes of Board of Directors meetings are at There is also a forum for member postings at

    News of Members

    Please contact us ( if you have relevant news about RET members that they agree to share.


    Other Area Secular Activities                              

    Atheist Society of Knoxville, Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m.
    Flats and Taps, 7403 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. Conversation, food, and drink. ASK is sponsoring a major fundraiser called “Ending Hunger,” which aims to raise $5000 and put 20,000 meals into Knoxville area food pantries. To learn more and donate, go to <> and click the “donate” button. Be sure to mention Event 113 in the special instruction to ensure your contribution goes to this event. 

    East Tennessee Freedom from Religion Foundation Chapter, November 15, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
    Third Wednesday of each month, Earth Fare, Turkey Creek, Knoxville.

    Sunday Assembly Knoxville (Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More)

    The International, 940 Blackstock Avenue, Knoxville 37921.  Other Sunday Assembly sites: Facebook, Meetup, Email.


    Copyright © 2017 {Rationalists of East Tennessee, Inc.}. All rights reserved. Please request use of any material at contact below.
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    Edited by Donna Watson and Sharron King:
    Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.