RET News February 2019 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

February 2019


First Sunday Meeting

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

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

Annual Business Meeting

Hear what RET has been up to during the past year. Help elect new directors and officers. Become a director or officer yourself.* Give your input to further freethought and RET. Socialize with other members.

[*You can still be a write-in candidate if not on the printed ballot. Any member may be elected to the board. Our bylaws also provide for four officers: president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. An officer must be at least 18 years old and have been a member of the board for at least one year.]

Get Directions       

Skeptic Book Club

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

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

How Physics Makes Us Free, by J. T. Ismael.

In 1687 Isaac Newton ushered in a new scientific era in which laws of nature could be used to predict the movements of matter with almost perfect precision. Newton’s physics also posed a profound challenge to our self-understanding howeverfor the very same laws that keep airplanes in the air and rivers flowing downhill tell us that it is in principle possible to predict what each of us will do every second of our entire lives, given the early conditions of the universe. Can it really be that, even while you toss and turn late at night in the throes of an important decision and it seems like the scales of fate hang in the balance, your decision is a foregone conclusion? Can it really be that everything you have done and everything you ever will do is determined by facts that were in place long before you were born? This problem is one of the staples of philosophical discussion. The problem of free will raises all kinds of questions. What does it mean to make a decision, and what does it mean to say that our actions are determined? What are laws of nature? What are causes? What sorts of things are we, when viewed through the lenses of physics, and how do we fit into the natural order? (287 pages)


Third Sunday Meeting

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

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

Roundtable Discussion: Open Topic 

Bring a topic for discussion. Topics will be placed in a bag to be selected at random. Each will be discussed 15–20 minutes before moving to the next.


February 24          Sunday          1:00–3:30 p.m. 

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

“Philosophy of Immigration

What should the philosophy of immigration be? A real philosophy based on ideas and values. The reason often given for immigration is that immigrants do jobs Americans won’t do, but this is a failure of capitalism not immigration policy. The invisible hand is supposed to solve the task/worker/pay issue not a state-sponsored supply of low-class labor. A policy can’t be based on the Elite Right’s need for cheap disposable labor and the Elite Left’s need for domestic servants. It needs to be based on real national values and humane purposes. For example, a philosophy of immigration might be something like: “We believe in American exceptionalism, that unique combination of liberty, democracy, and markets and wish to encourage the world to adopt it; we will therefore allow controlled immigration so that other peoples can learn and experience it in its homeland.” Notice that this is about a principle belief and not local economics or politics. What other philosophies of immigration might you have that capture time-honored principles and humane reasons rather than the promise of cheap disposable labor and the latest world ethnic or economic problem?

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.



Make a Suggestion for the Skeptic Book Club

It is again time to select books for the Skeptic Book Club. Books must be nonfiction, but may 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 only one month between meetings, so select something you think can be covered in about a month. 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!
Please send
your titles to Bob Morris ( by Ground Hog Day, February 2, 2019, so he can put together a voting list for the group to vet. He wants to have the final list by early March so everyone has some time to see it before May, when the book club year begins.

Join a Study of Nonviolent/Compassionate Communication

Charter RET member Melissa Brenneman is offering to organize a collaborative study of nonviolent communication (also called compassionate communication). This will be a learning circle of equals, not on the “discussion leader” model of many of our other events. The time and location will be set by the group in the formation stage, but meetings will have to be in downtown or north Knoxville. Interested RET members should contact Melissa at For more information about nonviolent communication, see

Support RET Through AmazonSmile

If you shop on, you can generate a contribution for RET with your purchase, at no cost to you. On your first visit to AmazonSmile (, you need to select a charitable organization (Rationalists of East Tennessee) to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation for RET. To learn more about AmazonSmile, click here.



Get the App

A free app is available for your smart phone to help you stay in touch with the Rationalists of East Tennessee. It is called “Wild Apricot for Members” and is available in the App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play (for Android devices). Upon using it for the first time, you are asked to enter the userid and password that you use to log into the web page. The app provides a convenient way to look at the schedule of events and to contact other members.

How to Find FFTV

Freethought Forum TV programs are being archived online by Community TV of Knoxville ( Most of the 2018 episodes are available there for viewing.

FFTV, presented in conjunction with the Atheist Society of Knoxville, is broadcast each Wednesday,
6:30–7:30 p.m. The program is always more lively and interesting if people call in (865-215-2288) with questions and comments. FFTV also invites you to host or co-host a program or suggest a topic you wish to be presented. Contact “Faithless” Forrest with your ideas. 
The program can be seen live on the internet at In the Knoxville area it can be viewed on the following channels:

                      Xfinity (Comcast), Channel 12                       WOW! (Knology), Channel 6

                      Charter, Channel 193                                       AT&T U-verse, Channel 99


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:

RET is now on, an 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.


RET Skeptic Book ClubBooks List


OTHER AREA SECULAR ACTIVITIES                            

Atheist Society of Knoxville, Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, 200 East Jackson Avenue, Knoxville 37915. Conversation, food, and drink.

East Tennessee Chapter, Freedom from Religion Foundation, 5:30 p.m., third Wednesday of alternate months, Earth Fare, Turkey Creek, Knoxville.

Sunday Assembly Knoxville (Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More)
The Concourse at the International, 940 Blackstock Avenue, Knoxville 37921. Sunday Assembly sites: Facebook, Meetup, Email.



Rendez-Vous with Art by Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford (2014). For 30 years Montebello was director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his views on appreciating art and the limitations of museums are a revelation. In addition to analyzing major art works, he describes how the viewer’s mood affects her experience, the horror of tour groups, and the joy of small museums. At one point Montebello relates his decision to spend $45 million for Duccio’s “Madonna and Child” for the Met collection. This book is for novice, as well as seasoned, art lovers.

The Long Haul by Finn Murphy (2017). Murphy’s memoir shows he is not the stereotypical trucker: he’s a serious reader, listens to NPR, works mostly for VIPs, and makes upwards of $250K a year. However, he’s lowest on the trucker totem pole—a bedbugger, because he hauls people’s possessions. His biggest fear is blowing a front tire (four-wheelers, beware of traveling alongside). These entertaining and informative tales from the road show a way of life many of us know little about.

Milkman by Anna Burns (2018). Set in 1970s Northern Ireland, Burns’s astonishing fourth novel won the 2018 Man Booker Prize. The eighteen-year protagonist is caught in a confusing world of taking sides, warnings, gossip, informers, intimidation and violence, and keeping silent. There are no proper names here—simply relationships, such as second sister, third brother-in-law, maybe-boyfriend. This introspective and at times witty narrative gives profound insight into the outrage and frustration of even those who tried not to take sides during “The Troubles.”


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Edited by Sharron King:
Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.