RET News February 2018 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

February 2018


Annual Business Meeting!

February 4          Sunday            10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Room 227

Please attend this important meeting! Members will have the opportunity to hear annual reports and vote for those to serve on the Board of Directors and as officers. More information about voting appears later in this newsletter. Please note that Room 227 is located upstairs and is not our regular meeting room. Signs will be posted.

Get Directions


Skeptic Book Club

February 11          Sunday           2:004:00 p.m.                         

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

A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award–winning news anchor Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a colony and a nation. In the nation, we venerate the law. In the colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, yet nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first “law and order” president. A Colony in a Nation explains how a country founded on justice now looks like something uncomfortably close to a police state. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution? The book examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential “broken windows” theory to the “squeegee men” of late-1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level. (256 pages)


Third Sunday Meeting

February 18           Sunday           10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

The Criminalization of the Homeless

This talk by Eddie Young, Executive Director of the East Tennessee Peace and Justice Center, focuses on the center’s mission of organizing, training, and mobilizing (collectivizing) the homeless in the pursuit of peace through social justice. By the end of 2016 the center was facilitating the Knoxville Homeless Collective and the Knox County Incarceration Collective and was preparing to launch the Knoxville Tenants Rights Collective. The presentation will emphasize two facets of these efforts: (1) reorganizing the Knoxville Homeless Collective, with primary interests in exposing the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission and passing a proposed Knoxville “Homeless Bill of Rights” and (2) restarting publication of The Amplifier, a newspaper that addresses the problems of homelessness.


Reflections Meeting

February 25           Sunday           1:00–3:30 p.m. 

Discussion and Pot Luck                      Hosted by Bob Morris                140 Greystone Drive, Oak Ridge 37830


This Reflections will be a little lighter—about being cheap. These days we are lectured about spending too much money, but let’s look at the other side and hear your stories (good and bad, friends, relatives, significant others) about experiences with cheap. What does cheap mean and what does it say about us and our intentions? There are several kinds of cheap. The first is frugal—use it up, make it do, wear it out. Can you think of a time where this saved you a lot of money, like hundreds of dollars on a house repair or a time when it backfired and a tire blew out at midnight in the middle of nowhere? Another kind of cheap is social obligation. Like the office Xmas party or bridal shower or baby shower or house warming you have to go to but you dread. Did you buy a really cheap gift? Or did you receive a really cheap gift? What happened? Are your friends still talking to you? Did you or someone you know ever get caught recycling a gift? What about retaliatory cheap? Like getting even with that relative who always buys you crappy stuff for your birthday. Did you ever threaten to kill a significant other over cheap—or the other way around? What did you do or she/he do? What are the results and ethics of cheap? Is this a good life philosophy? Can it backfire, like the homeless guy pushing a shopping cart with $5 million in the bank? Did you ever miss an important opportunity by not focusing on the long-range rather than the upfront cost? Can you fix cheap, or is it forever?   

For the meeting, please bring the usual pot luck, and Bob will provide some drinks and paper dinnerware. The driveway has a bit of an incline, so if you have strong legs, please park at the bottom so others have less of a climb.


Important Messages

Annual Business Meeting and Election of Board Members and Officers, February 4

The minutes of last years Annual Business Meeting will be presented for acceptance. Please read them before the meeting:


Although the deadline for the pre-printed ballot to elect the RET Board of Directors and officers has passed, if you want to run, you can self-nominate at the Annual Business Meeting

The Nominations Committee encourages all RET members to help strengthen the local freethought community by becoming a member of the BOD or an officer. Any individual or life member can be elected to the board. 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 of the BOD 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) send out to the membership a notice of each meeting, and (5) compile the order of business for meetings.
  • The treasurer shall (1) receive and disburse funds as authorized by the board, (2) keep records of money received and spent, (3) safeguard the organization’s funds, (4) compile and submit an annual financial statement as required, (5) keep the official membership role, (6) provide record of dues payments to the secretary as requested, and (7) 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


Call to order (Carl Ledendecker)

Capture of members in attendance (Donna Maxwell)

Establishment of quorum (10% of paid members)

Reading of the summarized minutes of February 5, 2017, Business Meeting (Donna Maxwell)

Acceptance of the February 5, 2017, minutes

Treasurer’s report (Eliot Specht)

Q and A


  • Adopt-a-Highway (Donna Maxwell)(Chevy Anz will not be in attendance)
  • Annual speaker (Aleta Ledendecker)
  • Book Club (Robert Morris)
  • Freethought Forum TV (Lee Erickson)
  • Secular Student Alliance (Jonas Holdeman)
  • Sunday Assembly (Adrienne Weber)
  • Solstices
  • Picnics
  • Other activities

Other actions


Presentation of the slate by Nominations Committee

Additional nominations from the floor (must have permission of the nominee)

Action setting the number of directors

Establishment of Elections Committee


Announcement of results

Remarks by outgoing president

Remarks by incoming president

General discussion

Motion to adjourn


The Nominations Committee will submit a report containing the committee’s nominations to the general membership in attendance, and ballots will be distributed.

A member of the Nominations Committee will accept any additional nominations from the floor for chair, vice chair, treasurer, secretary, and Board of Directors members. Then nominations will close.

Two tellers, who are not nominees, will be appointed to open and count the ballots.

The committee will ask if all eligible voters have received a ballot and destroy excess ballots once no one else requests a ballot.

Sufficient, but not excessive time, will be allowed for marking ballots.

The treasurer, or a person designated by the treasurer and not a nominee, will review all completed ballots to ensure that only members eligible to vote do so.

Tellers will review and tally the results, checking that each ballot is approved by the treasurer (or the replacement).

Tellers will submit results to the presiding chair, who will announce the results and ask the tellers to confirm the announcement.


Freethought Forum TV Moves to Wednesdays

Freethought Forum TV has a new time slot: Wednesdays, 6:30–7:30 p.m. We hope the change will allow greater variety of on-show hosts. FFTV, a community access television program in conjunction with the Atheist Society of Knoxville, 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 Our program may be seen by viewers of all ages and engages those who might otherwise never know about alternatives to religious world views. FFTV invites you to host or co-host a program or suggest a topic you wish to be presented. Contact “Faithless” Forrest with your ideas.


Sunday Program 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 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 Meetup.coman online social networking site that allows people to find others who share common interests. 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 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, February 21, 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. For activities, go to the Sunday Assembly website and click on “Events Calendar.” Other Sunday Assembly sites: Facebook, Meetup, Email.


    What Are You Reading?

    We invite you to share a couple of favorite books you read during the past year. Just send title, author, and a brief summary to Donna Watson has the first review in this series.  

    Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World, by Sally Hansen (2017). Journalist Sally Hansen received a grant to live in Turkey for a time, starting in 2007. This book is an account of her education into the culture, politics, and history of that country and others in the Middle East. She describes anti-Americanism as not necessarily a violent pathology but rather a “broken heart, a 100-year relationship” of the U.S.’s intervention in the affairs of other countries. 

    The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes (2011), winner of the Mann Booker Prize. British novelist Julian Barnes conjures up a narrator with a faulty memory in this story of Tony Webster, who has led an uneventful life after a short youthful flirtation with the privileged class. There are lingering questions. Why did his closest and smartest friend commit suicide, and why does a former female friend hold a grudge? Part social analysis and part mystery, the book is at once insightful, witty, and sobering.


    Copyright © 2018 {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.