RET News December 2017 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

December 2017


First Sunday Meeting

December 3          Sunday            10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

“When Is It Wrong to Be an Atheist, Christian Persecution Complex, and Is the Bible Relevant Today?”

The program features a video presentation (interviews, debate, and talks) by Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou. According to Wikipedia, Stavrakopoulou holds a D. Phil. in theology from the University of Oxford. Her dissertation, which examined the creation of an imagined past within the Hebrew Bible, was later published as King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities. After filling teaching and research positions at Oxford’s Worcester College as a junior research fellow and as a career development fellow in the Faculty of Theology, she departed Oxford in 2005. She began a position in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion in the University of Exeter’s Department of Theology and Religion and rose to the level of senior lecturer by March 2011. Currently she serves as head of Theology and Religion. In 2011, Stavrakopoulou became secretary of the British-based Society for Old Testament Study and a member of the European Association of Biblical Studies and of the U.S.-based Society of Biblical Literature.

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Board Meeting

December 10         Sunday           11:30 a.m.                         

Earth Fare, Turkey Creek, Knoxville

[RET members are always welcome to attend Board Meetings.]


Skeptic Book Club

December 10          Sunday           2:004:00 p.m.                         

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

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne

When viewed through an economic lens, poverty can be defined as an absence of resources. The premise of the original Framework: A Cognitive Approach, published in 1995, is that middle-class understandings of those who work with children and adults in poverty are often ill-suited for connecting with and helping people build up resources and rise out of poverty. Now, 18 years and 1.5 million copies later, the book has been revised, updated, and expanded. The current 5th edition features an enhanced chapter on instruction and achievement; greater emphasis on the thinking, community, and learning patterns involved in breaking out of poverty; plentiful citations; new case studies; and data (more findings about interventions, resources, and causes of poverty); and a review of the outlook for people in poverty and those who work with them. (248 pages)


Third Sunday Meeting

December 17           Sunday           10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

“The Best Prescription for U.S. Healthcare Reform”

This presentation by James Reynolds, M.D., will include a frank assessment of our current healthcare system and ideas for improvement, including the single-payer option.


Special Event!

Winter Solstice Party

December 22             Friday            6:00 p.m.–midnight

Steve and Carol Tokay’s home, 8905 Garrison Drive, Knoxville 37931

The Solstice Party is a covered dish event with BYOB. Join us for food, friends, and interesting conversation as we celebrate the light. Please RSVP to or 865-691-6816.


Important Messages

From the Nominations Committee Chair

According to the bylaws of the Rationalists of East Tennessee, we have annual elections for our Board of Directors and officers. The next election will happen early in February 2018. The Nominations Committee encourages all RET members who would like to strengthen the organization that is RET, and perhaps their own personal growth as well, to seriously consider serving as a member of the Board of Directors or an officer.

Any individual or life member can be elected to the board. Further, our bylaws provide for four officers: president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. Officers must meet the following additional qualifications: be at least 18 years old and have been a member for at least one year.

A few excerpts from our bylaws will help understand the roles of the board and officers: 

  • The board shall consist of no less than five directors, including the officers. Directors shall hold office for a term of one year or until their successors are elected.
  • Meetings of the board may be called by the president and shall be called upon written request of three members of the board. The board shall hold its annual meeting before the organization’s annual meeting.
  • Board members shall serve without compensation.
  • The officers shall perform the duties prescribed by these bylaws and by the parliamentary authority adopted by the organization.

In part, the duties are as follows:

  • The president shall be the chief executive officer, coordinating the work of officers and committees, and signing contracts.
  • The vice-president becomes president if the president’s office becomes vacant and assumes the office temporarily if the vacancy is temporary. The vice-president shall assist the president as requested.
  • The secretary shall (1) record the minutes of the organization and board meetings, (2) handle the organization and board correspondence, (3) maintain a permanent file of the organization and board bylaws and other documents, including officers and committee chairpersons’ reports, publications, and correspondence, (4) keep the official membership roll, (5) send out to the membership a notice of each meeting, and (6) compile the order of business for meetings.
  • The treasurer shall (1) keep records of money received and spent, (2) safeguard the organization’s funds, (3) compile and submit an annual financial statement as required, (4) provide record of dues payments to the secretary as requested, and (5) invest funds if so directed by the board and following the board’s guidelines.

This information is partial. The full information can be found in our bylaws.

If you are able and willing to help the Rationalists of East Tennessee meet the purposes of our organization, please contact any member of the Nominations Committee. We would like your commitment soon.

Nominations Committee for 2018: Lee Erickson (865-805-2437 or and Alistair Elliott (865-441-7247 or

Freethought Forum TV

Freethought Forum TV, a community access television program in conjunction with the Atheist Society of Knoxville, is starting on its eighth year and can be seen in the Knoxville area on Comcast channel 12, Wow channel 6, Charter channel 193, and AT&T U-verse channel 99 and wherever the internet reaches at on most Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. EST. 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

You can 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 Skeptic 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

    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:

    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 Chapter, Freedom from Religion Foundation

    No meeting in December.

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

    The International, 940 Blackstock Avenue, Knoxville 37921. For activities, go to the Sunday Assembly website and click on “Events Calendar.” Other Sunday Assembly sites: Facebook, Meetup, Email.


    In Print and Online

    In a recent issue of the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert discusses the strategy of removing carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere to counter climate change. Can carbon be sucked out of the air and pushed back into the ground where it came from? And are such large-scale technologies feasible and realistic?—“Can Carbon Dioxide Removal Save the World,” The New Yorker, November 20, 2017. []

    Atlantic contributor Jill Leovy looks at the work of Barbara Simons, a computer scientist who has long voiced concern about the security of electronic voting systems. Simons’s organization Verified Voting has been fighting for paper ballots for nearly two decades.—“The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper,” The Atlantic, December 2017. 


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