RET News May 2018 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

May 2018

 "Tennessee's Most Dangerous Woman" is our guest April 28 and 29!!!

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 guest speaker, Gayle Jordan. Please bring a dish to share.

April 29           Sunday           2:00 - 4:00 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.

Reception follows talk.  All are welcome.


Annual Day of Reason Cook Out

May 3 Thursday 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Tyson Park, Pavilion #1 

Join the Secular Community of Knoxville for the Annual Day of Reason Cook Out at Pavilion #1 in Tyson Park.  Bring something for yourself to grill and a side dish to share with others. 

This family-friendly event will be held rain or shine and will include games to share.


First Sunday Roundtable

May 6          Sunday            10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

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

Robert Reich: "Preparing Our Economy for the Impact of Automation & AI"

This will be a video presentation followed by roundtable discussion.

Professor Reich comes to Google to discuss the impact of automation & artificial intelligence on our economy. He also provides a recommendation on how we can ensure future technologies benefit the entire economy, not just those at the top. Robert Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

Get Directions


Skeptic Book Club

May 13         Sunday           2:004:00 p.m.                         

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

A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer. An introduction to virology and human viruses. 128 pages


Third Sunday Meeting

May 20           Sunday           10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

The RET third Sunday meeting in May will feature a DVD presentation from the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series by Dr. Benjamin K. Bergen titled Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning”.

In this Lecture, based on his book, U.C. San Diego cognitive psychologist Benjamin K. Bergen draws together research in psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to offer a new theory of how our minds make meaning. When we hear words and sentences, we engage the parts of our brain that we use for perception and action—repurposing evolutionarily older networks—to create mental simulations. Embodied simulation, as it’s called, is the reason why it takes time to travel over distance, even in our mind’s eye; why it’s possible for us to become better baseball players by imagining a well-executed swing; and why it’s so hard to talk on cell phones while we’re driving on the highway. Rather than merely calling up abstract ideas to understand language, as others previously argued, our brains engage in a creative act to construct rich mental worlds in which we see, hear, and feel.


No Reflections Meeting in May.  Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend

Important Messages

Volunteer Needed!

A volunteer to bring the coffee service and signs/name tags to the 
May 20 meeting is needed. Collecting those items at the May 6 meeting is preferable, but not necessary. There will be plenty of supplies ready in the coffee service, but cleaning the coffee maker and getting it ready for the next meeting will be needed. If you are able to provide this service, please let Aleta know:  Thank you. 


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 Wednesdays, 6:30-7:30 pm

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.

Previous topics have included: Why is there Evil?; Secular Parenting; What is Humanism?; Abortion; Billy Graham; and Martin Luther King.


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 This month's recommendations are from Carl Ledendecker.

If you like historical fiction, Lucia St.Clair Robson is one of the best. She is a librarian and a very good novelist. For me at least, she does an exceptional job of creating mental images of the places and people in her books. Her research is exceptional as well.

Historical fiction sometimes must involve some uncomfortable scenes. In Ride the Wind the story begins with a gruesome attack by Comanches but in the end you windup understanding them as a people and culture. It is based on the story of Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped by the Comanche at age nine and ended up marrying one of their leaders. 

Amazon: "It also won the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for Best Historical Novel of the year. Now in its 27th printing, WIND was included in the top 100 westerns of the 20th century, and has garnered more than 100 5-star reviews in Amazon."

In A Walk In My Soul you get a fascinating history of young Sam Houston and the Cherokees during that time. The main character is a Cherokee woman leader who was Sam Houston’s Cherokee wife.

My favorite of the books she has written and that I have read is The Tokaido Road which is a novel about feudal Japan.  It is the story of a young woman seeking revenge for her father's death.  I have read it several times and have enjoyed it just as much each time.  I feel like I have traveled the Tokaido Road myself by reading it.

The three books listed above all are centered around strong women.

She has written many more books and now that I am thinking about her books I am going to buy another one.


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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.