Fake News, Transparency and the Future of Investigative Journalism
The Rise of Fundamentalism and the Decline of Reform Thought-Judaism, Christianity and Islam
The Electoral College: Its Impact on Democracy
The Interactive Cosmos: Star Formation, an Evolving Web of Relationships
Charles Strain, Ph.D., Professor, Religious Studies, Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies, DePaul University
Buddha Enters the Marketplace: The Birth, Flowering and Global Reach of Engaged Buddhism
Robert Hariman, Ph.D., Professor of Rhetoric and Public Culture, Department of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
A Time of Social Catastrophes? Living with Radical Change
Ethical and Moral Aspects of Childhood Materialism
Howard Learner, J.D. Harvard University, President and Executive Director, Environmental Law and Policy and Policy Center
Protecting the Midwest’s Environment and Natural Heritage
David Victorson, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Medical School Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director of the Consciousness in Health Research Lab
Does Science Back up Positive Benefits of Both Meditative Mindfulness and Yoga?
The State of the U.S. Constitution
Johannes Brahms: Creative Process of a Genius (a discourse with piano excerpts)
"Social Connection and Well-Being: Strategies That Foster Feelings of Social Connection"
The Human Genome: Knowledge Does Not Come Without Ethical Conflict
Border Politics: America's Love/Hate Relationship with Immigrant Labor
Passover and Easter – Jewish and Christian Insights
The Religious Meaning of Foods
A Free Speech Response to the Gay Rights/Religious Liberty Conflict
Pat Savage-Williams, M.S. Educational Psychology, Department Coordinator, Special Education, New Trier High School
An African American Educator's Perspective on Racial Division
Trust, Commercial Cheating and Morality from an Historical Perspective
Dr. Adam Waytz, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at Northwestern University Kellogg
The Whistle-Blower’s Dilemma: An Examination of Ethics
The "Conflict" of Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives
Jane Adams: Chicago's Original Hands-On Activist
Going Together: The Power of Groups in the Pursuit of Individual Goals
Mike Meiners, CEO of Hackstudio, will speak on the topic, Going Together: The Power of Groups in the Pursuit of Individual Goals. He will illustrate how pursuits that challenge our courage, authenticity, grit and respect are doomed by our brain structure to fail in the long term. He will share research from bestselling authors Brené Brown and Simon Sinek, as well as stories from his experience helping kids, teens and adults “get their dreams done” and will share practices that LSUS can employ to help its members stay in the fight as they pursue their individual goals - all while drawing everyone a little closer together.
Hackstudio helps kids learn to succeed by being who they are. At Hackstudio, kids benefit from and contribute to a culture of support that encourages everyone to show up as themselves. In freeing them to pursue their deep passions and interests, Mike Meiners and his team set the stage for kids to develop identity through struggle and build their own knowledge, skills and relationships in order to reach their goals. Mike has a Master of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He previously operated Meiners Design, where he designed company identities, earned patents and won a national furniture design competition.
Linking Happiness to a Successful and Productive Life
Don Sandel, Director of Talent Development at Astellas in Northbrook, will speak on the topic, Linking Happiness to a Successful and Productive Life. With the recent advances in neuroscience, we have seen compelling research around the old paradigm that it is success first and then happiness later and how this has been turned on its head. (Happiness actually precedes success!) In fact, the brain literally changes when we are happy, optimistic, and positive versus neutral or negative. By retraining the brain and developing new positive mental models, we can improve our mindset, our resiliency, how we respond to negative challenges, and inspire our own performance--no matter the venue or focus area.
Don Sandel has a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University. Since graduation, he has amassed a number of highly specialized certificates in Human Performance Improvement, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, and, most recently, Applied Positive Psychology. Don’s expertise is in the field of positive psychology, specifically how a positive mindset enables higher performance. He is a sought after speaker on the topic, often presenting at local, national and international conferences, and has been published nationally. He has built programs for United Airlines, Allscripts and Astellas Pharma Inc.
The Evolution of Imagination
Dr. Stephen Asma, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia College Chicago, will speak on the topic, The Evolution of Imagination. Imagination is a major part of our inner lives. Indeed, it makes up a “second universe” inside our heads. We invent animals and events that don’t exist, we rerun history with alternative outcomes, we envision social and moral utopias, revel in fantasy art, and meditate on what we could have been and what we might become. Guided by neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, philosophy, and psychology, Dr. Asma burrows deep into the human psyche to look right at the enigmatic but powerful engine that is our improvisational creativity—the source of our remarkable imaginational capacity. Imagination is neither a miraculous muse, nor a mechanical circuit of the brain. Instead, Asma argues, it is one of our earliest forms of cognition, and we can still access it today.
Asma is the author of ten books, including The Evolution of Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2017), The Evolution of Emotion: Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition with Rami Gabriel (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford University Press), and The Gods Drink Whiskey (HarperOne). He writes regularly for the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Skeptic magazine, and Aeon. Asma has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University, Brown University, the Field Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Fudan University (Shanghai), University of Macau, Aarhus University Denmark, and many more.
Ever since we realized that the stars were distant suns, we have wondered if there were also planets circling them, and speculated as to whether or not there might also be life on them. In the last two decades, new planets have been discovered at a prodigious rate. But what about life? Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." We'll chat about what we know of other worlds, what we think life might be like, and how we are attempting to explore the profound question of whether or not we are alone in the Cosmos.
Dr. Larson is the Associate Director at CIERA, Northwestern University astrophysics center He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy. He received a B.S. in Physics from Oregon State University in 1991 and then earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1999) from Montana State University. He is an award-winning teacher, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi.
Dr. Neal Grossman, Associate Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, University of Illinois, Chicago, UUA Principles and the Near-Death Experience
The near-death experience (NDE) has been the subject of scientific investigation since Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life, was published about 40 years ago. These investigations have crossed many areas, from phenomenology (what do NDErs say they have experienced?) to epistemology (how do we know that the NDE is real?) to psychology (how are NDErs affected by their experience?). In his presentation, Professor Grossman will focus mostly on the psychological dimension of the NDE. He will argue that the NDE appears to induce personality or psychological changes in the experiencers, so that they become more naturally aligned with UUA principles.
Neal Grossman has a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. His special interests are Spinoza, mysticism, and the epistemology of parapsychological research.
Dr. Emily Pace, Chicago Digital Humanities Coordinator, Lake Forest College and Former Director of UU-Affiliated Harvard Square Library Prophetic Witness: Separation of Politics and Religion
The United States Constitution is commonly understood to mandate a separation of religion from politics yet politics and religion have a long history of connection from abolitionism to women’s rights and numerous other social justice causes in the history of this country. Using an historical-critical approach, our speaker, Dr. Emily Mace, will guide us through the social justice-themed passages in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles that continue to inspire justice work today, passages which highlight the real complexity of separating politics and religion.
Dr. Mace has a Ph.D. in American religious history from Princeton University and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Service at Curt's Cafe' in Evanston, Susan Trieschmann, Owner, Curt's Cafe, Curt's Cafe' and Restorative Justice
Join LSUS and Curt’s Café Founder Susan Trieschmann for a breakfast social gathering and to learn about her experience with Restorative Justice. The event starts at 10:30. Ms. Trieschmann was once the owner of a large food service company but after going to college at the age of 48 and finding herself in a restorative justice class at DePaul, her life changed - for the better. She was fortunate enough to participate in circles of conversation in the Cook County jail for youth, in circles with victims and offenders at Evanston Police Department, and circles of conflict in her community. She has practiced the philosophy of restorative justice for over 10 years and has never walked away from a circle that hasn't changed her way of thinking or her way of respecting others and their life choices. She will share the basic philosophy of restorative justice and how it brought her to opening Curt’s Cafe five years ago. We will be meeting at Curt’s Café – 2922 Central Street in Evanston. RE class will take place at the Café.
NOTE: THIS SERVICE WILL BE HELD AT MALLICKRODT CENTER AT 1041A RIDGE ROAD IN WILMETTE.
Guest Speaker: Jon Grand, Manager, The Book Stall
Jon Grand, manager of Winnetka’s Book Stall, will speak on the topic, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: Jefferson’s Search for the Essential Teachings of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist and was mistrustful of organized Christian religion, dogma, priests, and ceremony. But he believed that the teachings of Jesus constituted the greatest moral instruction ever given to mankind. To separate those basic moral precepts from what he felt was myth furthered the power of the church, Jefferson turned to four bibles in his possession, including his King James Version, and painstakingly cut out those passages which could be attributed to Jesus and glued them together in sequence to create a new bible. Gone were the miracles, the virgin birth and even the resurrection. What remained were the moral teachings, carefully glued together and bound in a slim volume which he called "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" or, as we know it "The Jefferson Bible."
Jon Grand was born in Washington, D.C. to a Foreign Service Officer and grew up between South America and Washington. He received a BA in English Literature and an MS in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His career was comprised of fascinating jobs in environmental planning, including Director positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Nordic/Baltic Region, in Copenhagen and in Chicago. In 2006 he retired and began to work part time at The Book Stall. A part-time job has turned into a more than full-time job which he loves.
Guest Speaker: Herman Bender, Independent Researcher and Archeoastronomer.
Mr. Herman Bender will speak on the topic, Seeking Center: Cheyenne Cosmology - Becoming One with the Universe. In this talk, Mr. Bender will delve into the ideal of Center. The first time Mr. Ralph Redfox, a traditional Cheyenne elder and grandson of the last Massaum priest came to visit Mr. Bender, he announced that he had come "seeking center." Center is considered to be profound, within, without, multiple and universal. Center can be recognized as having both a physical component at a sanctified place and as a personal ideal to be sought, i.e. “the truth within” (Goodman 1992:31). A physical, geometric center was established at the Starman site which, along with the cross-diagonal solstice alignments, was meant to quarter time and space.
Herman Bender is an independent researcher, writer and editor with a background in geology (professional emphasis) and an amateur astronomer with decades of experience. He is nationally and internationally published in the fields of archeoastronomy, prehistoric trail research, petroform research, applied geophysics, cultural landscape studies and Northern archaic shamanistic traditions. As a specialist in Plains and Woodland Indian astronomy traditions and related cosmologies, Mr. Bender has worked with a number of Native American tribes including the Northern Cheyenne, Lakota, Ojibway, Potowatomi and Ho-Chunk. Much of this work is related to Native American land claims, repatriation issues and establishing cultural identities.
Guest Speaker: Jim Kenney, Executive Director, Common Ground.
Jim Kenney, Co-Founder (with the late Ron Miller) of Common Ground, will speak on the topic, Buddhism and the Interdependent Universe. The ancient Buddhist philosophical system, which undergirds the Buddhist religion, is based squarely on the concept of an interdependent universe. In this view, every thought, word, and physical action influences every other. My path through life is intertwined with the paths of others, even those I’ve never met or known. My choices resonate somehow with yours. What makes this teaching even more intriguing is the fact that the idea of complex, interdependent systems in a profoundly “holistic” universe has come to play a very influential role in physics and other sciences. Join Jim for an exciting glimpse of a very profound and challenging notion.
Jim Kenney did his doctoral work in the History and Literature of Religions, at Northwestern University. He has served as CG's Executive Director since 1986. He was a Trustee-Founder of the Parliament of the World's Religions and served as the organization's Global Director from 1995-2002. He is currently the Executive Director of the Interreligious Engagement Project (IEP21). He also served until 2017 as Project Coordinator for the International Interreligious Peace Council.
Guest Speaker: Jay Ellison, Ph.D., Dean of Students, University of Chicago.
Dr. Jay Ellison, Dean of Students, University of Chicago, will speak on the topic, Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces: Discussing Questions of Freedom of Speech on Campus. In the last few years there has been an increased focus on issues of academic freedom and freedom of speech on college campuses in the United States. Much of the push against academic freedom and freedom of speech has come from within the academic community itself. Controversial speakers have been invited to campuses, only to be shouted down by people who disagree with their views; speakers have had their events canceled, sometimes due to their controversial ideas or out of campus safety concerns. Dr. Ellison will discuss the University of Chicago’s long-standing commitment to academic freedom which is not always easy or comfortable.
Dr. Ellison is the Dean of Students in the College at the University of Chicago. He founded two offices in the Dean of Students area, the Center for College Student Success (CCSS) dedicated to serving students from under resourced areas, first generation, and undocumented/DACAmented students, and the College Center for Scholarly Advancement (CCSA), which supports students and alumni in nationally competitive fellowship and scholarship competitions, and advises students planning to attend graduate school in the arts and sciences. He was named one of the top ten influencers in Higher Education for 2016 by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Ellison received his Ph.D. from Harvard (2002) in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.