RET News April 2018 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

April 2018

     This month is our Annual Public Speaker Event!! See details below. 

First Sunday Roundtable

April 1          Sunday            10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley Campus, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

“Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies

We will watch some short videos by Phil Ferguson, the president of Polaris Financial Planning in Nashville, who has researched the topic because of interest among his clients.

Get Directions


Trash Pickup!

April 7          Saturday          1:00 p.m.                         

Burger King, Pellissippi Parkway, Lovell Road Exit

Come help us clean up our adopted stretch of highway! We meet at Burger King on Lovell Road at Pellissippi Parkway (1605 Schaeffer Drive), and we wrap up by 4:00 p.m. Wear sturdy walking shoes, long sleeves, and long pants. A picker-upper is useful if you have one. We provide gloves but bringing your own is a good idea. The following TDOT Adopt-a-Highway training video is required viewing for volunteers: In case of rain, the event will move to the following Saturday, April 14, 2018.


RET Board Meeting

April 8          Sunday           11:30 a.m.                         

Earth Fare, Turkey Creek, Knoxville

[RET members are welcome to attend Board Meetings.] 


Skeptic Book Club

April 8          Sunday           2:004:00 p.m.                         

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

Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End, by John W. Loftus

Acclaimed author John Loftus argues that, just as intelligent design is not a legitimate branch of biology in public educational institutions, the philosophy of religion should not be a legitimate branch of philosophy. Most of philosophy of religion has become little more than an effort to defend and rationalize preexisting Christian beliefs. While the book offers a fascinating study of the fallacies and flaws on which one whole field of study rests, it speaks to something much larger in the ongoing culture wars. By highlighting the stark differences between faith-based reasoning and evidence-based reasoning, Loftus presents vital arguments and lessons about the importance of critical thinking not only in all aspects of study but also in life. (272 pages)


Third Sunday Meeting

April 15           Sunday           10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

“Humble Before the Void: Western Science Meets Tibetan Buddhism

This meeting features a DVD presentation by Dr. Chris Impey as part of the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series. Surprise, delight, and unbridled mirth are not commonly encountered in the science classroom. But in the foothills of the Himalaya, at a program to teach cosmology to Buddhist monks by the University of Arizona astronomer Chris Impey, they were daily occurrences. Working with this unique audience spurred new ways of thinking about the universe and the art of teaching. This talk takes listeners on an adventure at the nexus of science, religion, philosophy, and culture. Dr. Impey studies quasars and distant galaxies and is the author of How It Began, How It Ends, and The Living Cosmos, and has won 11 teaching awards.



April 22          Sunday           1:00–3:30 p.m.                         

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

“Consumerism and Capitalism—Have They Warped Our Sense of Social and Moral Values? 

Markets have been very successful in many areas for increasing the standard of living and providing meaningful jobs for millions of people, but they also have some shortcomings. Market failures have resulted in drug research being directed toward those who can pay rather than those in greatest need. Capitalism has resulted in wealth inequality, and once trapped at the bottom it is very difficult for many to get the resources to move up. Consumerism is creeping into how we see and judge people. Poor people are seen as having poor character and totally responsible for their situation regardless of the actual social reality. Caregivers are often at the economic bottom even through the service they provide is vital to society. Collectivism is seen as a parasitic world view even though corporations and investors make great use of the nation’s infrastructure, school system, social support services, and rule of law. Is there a way to balance capitalism and consumerism with collectivism and social value services? How do people who operate in the social/caring regime, rather than the economic regime, prove their worth and earn their keep? Does ideology and culture, such as class and discrimination, direct the resources, or is it ultimately determined by economic and difficult-to-change human factors, such as supply and demand and biological nature?

Please bring the usual pot luck, and Bob will provide some drinks and paper dinnerware. If you have strong legs, please park at the bottom of the driveway so others have less of a climb.


Pot-luck Dinner with Gayle Jordan

April 28           Saturday           7:00 p.m.

Marsha Doyle's home, 7908 Queenborough Lane, Knoxville 37931

Come and enjoy dinner with our annual speaker Gayle Jordan. Please bring a dish to share.


Annual Public Speaker Event!

April 29           Sunday           2:00 p.m. 

Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley Campus, Goins Administration Building, Auditorium

We are delighted to welcome Gayle Jordan, Director of Recovering from Religion, who will speak about her recent candidacy for Tennessee State Senate in District 14’s special election, held March 13, 2018. This will be her first presentation of the topic. Gayle was open about her atheism during the campaign, which earned her the title of “Tennessee’s most dangerous woman” from the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee, Randy McNally. Come hear Gayle share tales from the campaign trail.


Important Messages

Suggest Nonfiction Books for the Skeptic Book Club

It is again time for us to select books for the RET Skeptic Book Club. The books must be nonfiction, but can cover a wide range of topics: medicine, history, religion, science, biography, ethics, economics, you name it! We don’t have a page limit, but remember there is a month between meetings, so select something you think can be read in that time. A couple of short and sweet books would be appreciated! Leading a session is not difficult as this group has plenty of opinions and viewpoints, so feel free to dive in with something you have always been interested in. Open your mind and ours! 

Send your titles to Bob Morris ( by April 30, 2018, so he can put together a voting list for the group to vet. The final list will be available by early June before people go on vacation.


Freethought Forum TV Moves to Wednesdays

Freethought Forum TV has a new time slot: Wednesdays, 
6:30–7:30 p.mFFTV, 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.

Previous topics have included Secular Parenting; What is Humanism?; Myth Making, Morality, and Religion; Solitude of Self; and Religious Cults.


Sunday Program Committee 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. Please consider helping organize our Sunday programs by contacting any current board member.


Opinion Column. Would you like to share an opinion? Send it to us (, and it will be considered for publication.


Mark Your Calendar. Solstice party, June 16, 2018, 5:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m., Carl and Aleta Ledendecker’s home. Further details later.


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., Black Horse Pub and Brewery, Western Plaza Shopping Center, 4429 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 donate to the ASK initiative, go to

East Tennessee Chapter, Freedom from Religion Foundation, April 18, 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 Your Favorite Books, Films, etc.?

We invite you to share favorite books, films, etc. Just send a brief summary to Both of Donna Maxwell’s suggestions below are available at the Knox County Public Library. 

She writes: Station Eleven, published in 2014 by Emily St. John Mandel, is my favorite read so far this year. Though dystopian science fiction, there is nothing in this book that couldn’t in fact happen right now. When a pandemic kills most of the earth’s population, it is the end of technology. The story moves back and forth between the 20 years before and after the “Georgia Flu.” A group of actors and musicians known as the Traveling Symphony preserve Shakespeare’s works, entertaining the survivors they encounter while making their way around upper Michigan. In their travels they hear stories of “The Prophet” and his followers, who survive by controlling the people they meet through religious terrorism. The characters and plot are complex and believable. In a society that has digressed 200 years, Station Eleven makes our present feel like an amazing futuristic world.

I was not surprised when the film The Florida Project received only one Oscar nomination: Willem Defoe, who did not win for Best Supporting Actor. The film is just too much raw realism for Hollywood and probably for most mainstream movie fans. Just beyond Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida, lie rundown motels filled with transient, near homeless families. The story follows six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends running wild, torturing and charming the motel manager Bobby (Willem Defoe). Moonee is only slightly more emotionally mature than her mother, Hallie (Bria Vinaite). Hallie struggles to find food and money for rent by selling knock-off perfume to tourists, begging and stealing from a local restaurant, and finally resorting to prostitution and fraud. The antics of Moonee and her friends become more serious just as her mother’s means of getting money become increasingly illegal and dangerous. Sean Baker wrote, produced, directed, and edited The Florida Project. I don’t think that has been done in Hollywood since Charlie Chaplin.


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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.