RET News March 2018 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

March 2018


First Sunday Meeting

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

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

Guest Hugh Willet will lead the discussion on the current state of gun violence in our country.

Directions to Pellissippi State


Skeptic Book Club

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

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

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

by Ed Yong.

From the Back Cover

A groundbreaking, marvelously informative “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

For most of human existence, microbes were hidden, visible only through the illnesses they caused. When they finally surfaced in biological studies, they were cast as rogues. Only recently have they immigrated from the neglected fringes of biology to its center. Even today, many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—are invaluable parts of our lives.

I Contain Multitudes lets us peer into that world for the first time, allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, giving us a grander view of life.

With humor and erudition, Ed Yong prompts us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are. When we look at the animal kingdom through a microbial lens, even the most familiar parts of our lives take on a striking new air. We learn the secret, invisible, and wondrous biology behind the corals that construct mighty reefs, the glowing squid that can help us understand the bacteria in our own guts, the beetles that bring down forests, the disease-fighting mosquitoes engineered in Australia, and the ingredients in breast milk that evolved to nourish a baby’s first microbes. We see how humans are disrupting these partnerships and how scientists are now manipulating them to our advantage. We see, as William Blake wrote, the world in a grain of sand.

I Contain Multitudes is the story of these extraordinary partnerships, between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it


NaNoCon (Nashville Nones Convention)

March 17           Saturday           All day, 8:30 a.m.--"After Party" starts at 9:00 p.m.

Glencliff High School, 160 Antioch Pike, Nashville TN 37211

NaNoCon theme: the NaNo ConSensuALL

This year, we're getting smart about consent, respect, and more positive sex!  We're committed to sharing a fun, inclusive environment that   everyone can feel comfortable to enjoy, without unwanted pressures.  The #MeToo movement and the Women's March make this all the more   timely -- how can we help create a positive culture of respect, empowerment and comfort for ALL members of our community?


Pictured:  Keynote Speaker Matt Dillahunty, host of The Atheist Experience


Third Sunday Meeting

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

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

Mr. David Bolt will give a presentation on “An Engaged Community Building a Sustainable Future”

This will be an interactive program going over some of the highlights of David Bolt’s 15-year journey of moving to a sustainable lifestyle.  Some of the topics covered will include: net zero energy houses, electric cars, and the demonstration site at ETPRI (East Tennessee Permaculture Research Institute).  The ETPRI demonstration site in south Knoxville has examples of rain water harvesting, chicken raising, solar panels, tiny house living, and community gardening, among other sustainable practices.  This program should be enjoyable and informative.


Reflections Meeting

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

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

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

ASK (Atheist Society Knoxville) is moving locations beginning Tuesday, March 6.  The new meeting location will be BlackHorse Pub & Brewery in Western Plaza Shopping Center, 4429 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37919, 5:30 to whenever.


New Board Of Directors, Election Results of Annual Business Meeting, February 4, 2018

  • President: Carl Ledendecker
  • Vice President: Pat Cannon
  • Secretary: Donna Maxwell
  • Treasurer: Eliot Specht
  • Director: Shawnee Casteel
  • Director: Victoria Deren
  • Director: Lee Erickson
  • Director: Jonas Holdeman
  • Director: Sharron King
  • Director: Les Manning
  • Director: Chandra Martin
  • Director: Jennifer Taylor
  • Director: Donna Watson


Freethought Forum TV Now on 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.


Follow-up on the problems of the homeless in Knoxville

On February 18 at our 3rd Sunday RET meeting, Mr. Eddie Young, Executive Director of the East Tennessee Peace and Justice Center, presented an eye-opening talk about the plight of Knoxville's homeless population.  The title of his talk was, “The Criminalization of the Homeless.”

Question: What can anyone do?

Answer from Bob Grimac, who drives a van for Family Promise, an organization that houses homeless families in churches, rotating every Sunday at 5 pm.  TVUUC is one of them, taking in 4 families at a time, every 3 or 4 months.

IDEA ONE is to take in a family, someone that I would recommend to you, folks who seem clean, quiet, not dangerous or a problem.  There have been some good folks who could be good house guests for someone --- some work, some have cars, etc.  Some are running away from abusive husbands. All have children.

IDEA TWO is to donate a used car. This can really transform a life, obviously, giving someone the ability to get to work.  A donor can get a tax credit when donating to Family Promise. If that is not important, they can go through me and we can talk about who should get one.

Contact Bob Grimac at <>


RET Skeptic Book ClubBooks List

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


Other Area Secular Activities                              

Atheist Society of Knoxville, Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m.
Flats and Taps, 7403 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919. Starting Tuesday, March 6, the new meeting location will be BlackHorse Pub & Brewery in Western Plaza Shopping Center, 4429 Kingston Pike.  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 donate to the ASK initiative, go to         

East Tennessee Chapter, Freedom from Religion Foundation, March 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.



Ralph Drollinger [is] the founder and president of Capitol Ministries and one of the most politically influential pastors in America. He believes that social welfare programs “have no basis in scripture”, that Christians in government have an obligation to hire only Christians; and that women should not be allowed to teach grown men. ‘ Mr. Drollinger was an early, passionate supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. The “institution of the state” is “an avenger of wrath”, he explains, and its "God-given responsibility” is ” to moralize a fallen world through the use of force”. Apparently, President Trump excels in these biblical criteria for leadership.

Mr. Drollinger is dedicated to communicating those views in weekly Bible study groups. The participants in his groups, however, aren’t just anybody.  They include Mike Pompeo, the director of this C.I.A.; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Vice President Mike Pence; Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education; and other senior officials in the Trump administration.

...Katherine Stewart (Excerpted from “The Museum of the Bible Is a Safe Space for Christian Nationalists”, in The New York Times Sunday Review, 1/7/2018)  Taken from Pique, Newsletter of the Secular Humanist Society of New York, Feb. 2018 Page 11

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 Trish Richert has contributed the following two recomendations.  

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (2017). Horowitz is a bestselling author (Moriarty) and screenwriter (Midsummer Murders), so he really knows his way around a mystery. So much so, in Magpie Murders we get a murder mystery within a murder mystery. The book begins with the story of Susan Ryeland, an editor with a British publishing company, who has just received the manuscript for the final book of a series featuring a famous detective, Atticus Pund. We read the book along with the editor. We learn, as Susan does, that the final chapter of the book is missing, which is unfortunate, because the book’s author, Alan Conway, is found dead at his home. The police pronounce it suicide. But Susan is certain it’s murder. Both murder mysteries are good, although one reveal is better than the other. 

Life in Light of Death by James A Lindsay (2016). Lindsay might not be a stranger to you. He has also written Everybody is Wrong About God and God Doesn’t; We Do. To set the tone, the first chapter of this book is “You Are Going To Die.” No argument there. The purpose of the book is to help the reader come to grips with this reality from a purely secular point of view. I have re-read this book, in whole and in part, many times. I highly recommend it to anyone who acknowledges mortality but is struggling with its impending arrival. “Fearing death is a worthwhile part of life, but brooding upon it is not,” says Lindsay. “To worry about it is pointless, and to spend our lives ruminating is to miss the best of living.”


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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.