Saturday, December 31, 2005

Response to Patti's Death

Hi Dan,
Thanks for letting me know about Patti's death. It was a tough situation that I've reflected on often and will continue to think about. To touch on some positive, I will remember Patti's always exceptional free thought newspaper clips she added to the free thought clipping circle. And I will always remember Patti, especially for her determination. It was her goal to someday benefit from stem cell research and walk again, and go back to her business which was the center of her life. Good people die, but their memories and dreams live on.

Dan Cagle

Friday, December 30, 2005

Larry's letter on Patti's death


Patti Reames died last night at Norman Regional Hospital. I don't know all the details yet, but apparently her death was the result of heart failure. Patti was one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever known. She was also dedicated to the cause of freethought and was, as you know, a supporter of HAT as well.

She'd suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for the past several years, and was institutionalized for the past five in various rest homes. Over the past few weeks, she'd begun to lose the use of her hands. In a matter of months, I'm sure she would've been a quadriplegic. Patti had suffered enough indignities because of this illness and I know she wouldn't have wanted to be reduced to that. She was optimistic, courageous and sweet to the end, even though she'd had to endure excrutiating pain and immobility for so long.

I'll miss her greatly.

Larry [Forrest]

Note from Dan: Larry wrote to me again to say that the cause of death was found to be sepsis, blood poisoning due to an infection.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Point of Inquiry

The Center for Inquiry is now producing audio programs in a series called "Point of Inquiry." Two segments have been produced so far, both during the week of December 12. More programs are to follow. The programs feature a summary of news of interest to humanists and skeptics plus other segments. In the first program Paul Kurtz is interviewed about his book Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? In the second program paranormal investigator Joe Nickell is interviewed regarding skeptical inquiry.

You can access "Point of Inquiry" at . Click on "Listen Now" to choose the program you wish to hear.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Atheist group makes holiday season its own
By David Schulte World Staff Writer 12/21/2005

To members of The Humanist Association of Tulsa, God, the second coming of Jesus Christ and angels with wings are myths similar to Santa Claus, green elves and flying reindeer.

The group has 30 members, who are predominantly atheists or agnostic, said Dan Nerren of Sand Springs, the organization's president.

Although they do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, humanists are tolerant of those who do, because the season of giving and good will toward others is consistent with their own belief that people need to make the world a more peaceful and better place.

Because humanists do not believe an eternal life awaits people when they die, humanity must make the most of life on earth, and the best way to do that is by finding harmony living with others, said Tulsa's Randy Bradley, vice president of the organization.

"The fact that there is no magic man in the sky does not reduce your capacity for joy or for love," he said. "Life is as precious, and probably more so for the humanists, because we realize that all the evidence points that this is all there is, and we ought to treat each other as best as we can, because there is no pie in the sky afterwards."

For the humanists, the holiday rituals of exchanging gifts and having formal dinners are ways to enjoy the fellowship of others.

They also have found their own special day in December to plan such events: the Winter Solstice, which begins Dec. 21. This year, the group held its annual Winter Solstice gathering on Dec. 18.

Long before Christians celebrated Christ's birth, ancient civilizations celebrated seasons, because they represented a change in the cycle of life, Bradley said. To celebrate the winter season, many humanists' families decorate a tree and place gifts underneath it.

"The party was there before they moved Jesus' birthday to December," Bradley said.
When humanists hear Christmas greetings from others, "They just let it roll off their back," Nerren said.

Although many of the humanists have adapted the holiday season to fit within their secular beliefs, Tulsa's Bea McCartney is one member who no longer follows the traditions of the holiday. With the exception of buying a few small gifts for her grandchildren, she no longer exchanges gifts with others, because she is "very anti-materialistic."

"It's just a waste of time and money," she said of the Christmas season.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Christmas season is that it has become too commercialized, Bradley said.

"As for people getting together and being kind to one another, we're all for that," he said.

McCartney views the story of Jesus Christ like any story in the Bible: She believes it was something that was passed down from one generation to another and greatly exaggerated before it was written.

"There is nothing in it divinely inspired," she said. "It's partly myth, partly legend."

McCartney respects others' right to celebrate Christmas and worship God, but she is offended when Christians or people of other faiths thrust their religious views on her, she said.

Although most humanists find it easy to blend in with those who worship God, Bradley does not hesitate to share his views on religion when he attends holiday parties.

When it comes to God, Bradley is completely "out of the closet."

"I go to company Christmas parties, and ultimately, at some point, we will probably discuss religion," he said. "I try not to be hostile, but I try to be honest."

Bradley said he bases his atheist views on a lack of scientific evidence of God's existence.
He and Nerren also believe recent world events support their views.

They point to the thousands of innocent humans who have died within the past two years because of hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes as evidence that God does not exist. A loving, omnipotent God would not let these disasters occur, they said.

"If there is a God, he is delinquent," Nerren said.

Tulsa's Marilyn Clark, a humanist, said most people's belief in God is a longing for something that is kind and good in the world.

Because humanists do not believe in an eternal life in heaven, they feel that their bond with others is perhaps greater than most people's.

If the only possible paradise that can exist is on earth, it is important that people treat each other with love and respect each day, and just not during the holiday season, they said.

"In the end, everyone is going to die, and we realize that," Bradley said. "Life is short and sweet, so we are going to be kind, good and just -- this is the only chance that we're going to get."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Minutes for HAT meeting, Dec. 18, 2005

Officers for 2006 were elected at the HAT meeting held on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005 at Randy Bradley's house. The officers are Randy Bradley, president; Marilyn Clarke, vice-president; Dan Nerren, secretary; Dan Nerren, treasurer; Brian Hill, program director. Door prize winners were Ryan Sheahan (one-year subscription to Freethought Today) and Mary Clements (one-year subscription to Church and State magazine).

There were 18 people at the gathering: Randy, Dawn, Harold, Sharon, Brian, Ryan, Julia, Bea, Gail, Marilyn, Mary, Polly, Glenn, Stan, John, Barbara, Jan, and Dan. We all sat around a large table and enjoyed turkey soup and cornbread. There was a large variety of desserts to choose from.

We observed HumanLight, a Humanist celebration of human accomplishments and reason.

The Secular Singers presented a musical program of eight holiday selections.

This was our final meeting of the year.

Looking to next year, Program Director Brian Hill will explore the possibility of scheduling Carlton Pearson as a guest speaker at one of our third Sunday meetings.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Freethought Activities -- December 2005

Sat., Dec. 10, 10am
Secular Singers at Dan’s house, 4925 Spruce Dr., Sand Springs. Join Bea, Randy, Gail, Julia, and Dan to sing freethought and other songs.

Sun., Dec. 11, 2pm
Humanist Study Group at Border’s, 81st & Yale. Discussion leader: Glenn Visher. Topic: “The Nature of Personality: Genes, Culture, and National Character” by Richard W. Robins.

Sun., Dec. 18, 2pm
HAT Monthly Membership Meeting and Food & Fellowship Gathering at Randy Bradley’s, 6705 E. 54th. Annual election of officers. Program: Musical presentation by The Secular Singers.

Wed., Dec. 21, 11:30am
ALGAE luncheon at White River Fish Market, 1708 N. Sheridan.

There is no TAR meeting this month. Next TAR meeting will be Jan. 17.

Questions? Call Dan at 798-3629.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

HSG in December

The subject of discussion for the Humanist Study Group meeting on December 11 will be the article "The Nature of Personality: Genes, Culture, and Natioonal Character" by Richard W. Robins. Glenn Visher will lead the discussion. I received a call yesterday from David Schulte, a reporter for Tulsa World. He said he would be attending this meeting to gather more information for the article he is working on.