MARCH 2019: DISRUPTING MASS INCARCERATION

Elizer Darris, who experienced the dehumanization of prison as a juvenile offender, spoke to our March chapter meeting about strategies to “Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy” mass incarceration. Darris, now a field organizer for ACLU of Minnesota, was sentenced to life in prison at age 15 but worked to educate himself and successfully fought to get his sentence reversed on appeal. But his experience as an inmate, where “every day you have to fight to preserve your humanity,” continues to inform his work.

‘AFTER LIFE’ ON NETFLIX: AN ATHEIST CONFRONTS LIFE WITH NO AFTER

By Mary McLeod  

There aren’t many TV series that feature an atheist as protagonist. But Netflix recently offered “After Life,” created by and starring British comedian Ricky Gervais. HofMN member Mary McLeod offers this review:

 The series centers on Tony, a misanthrope of massive proportions, who talks about suicide constantly, and calls his curmudgeonly hate a superpower. He claims there is no advantage to being nice, or caring, or having integrity, because the world will just defeat you in ways you can’t imagine. In other words, his wife, whom he loved beyond words, has died.


FEBRUARY 2019: THE PROMISE AND PERIL OF DNA TESTING

The explosive growth in genetic research and testing is creating a host of ethical and practical concerns, Bonnie LeRoy, professor and director of the Graduate Program of Study in Genetic Counseling at the University of Minnesota, told our February chapter meeting. Things are moving so fast, much of it driven by commercial testing companies, that the medical community is having a hard time keeping up, she said.

MOMENTUM GROWS ON CAMPAIGN-SPENDING CURBS: FEDERAL AND STATE BILLS INTRODUCED

BY VICKI BARNES

Humanists of Minnesota has endorsed efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to restore our ability to regulate campaign spending and curb the influence of money in politics. This would reverse damaging Supreme Court rulings, including Citizens United, which struck down restrictions on political spending by corporations and billionaire donors on free-speech grounds  Vicki Barnes, Minnesota state coordinator for American Promise, reports on recent legislative developments.

SPITTING IN THE SOUP: AMERICA’S HEALTH CARE MESS

By Harlan Garbell

When Lyndon Johnson was the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, he had a notorious reputation as a deal maker who would vigorously browbeat balky senators until he got the outcome he wanted. One of his favorite sayings to these senators was ,“Don’t spit in the soup, we all gotta eat.” Essentially, what he meant was that there was plenty of government largesse for everyone as long as no one objected too much to some other senator’s wasteful pork barrel project.

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: MEET ROSS MEISNER

Joined Humanists of Minnesota: August 2018.

Profession/Residence: Managing Director inside Navigant’s Minneapolis office (which we established two years ago). My team serves the med-tech industry, using proprietary analytics we developed to better inform market opportunities and growth strategies. I’ve lived in Fridley for 18 years. Before that: Silicon Valley, Boston, and Tokyo.

MARCY WOODRUFF JOINS BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Humanists of Minnesota board has appointed Marcy Woodruff to fill a seat vacated by Sharon Tornes. Many thanks to Sharon for her service. Marcy describes her background and goals below:

What an honor and tremendous privilege to join the Humanists of MN Board of Directors. I am a 15-year Minnesota resident, having spent the bulk of my life in the southwestern US. After retiring from 28 years federal public service (in the air-traffic profession) in mid-2016, I was looking forward to travel, reading, and spontaneous adventures.

DECEMBER 2018: HOW TO SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

A panel at our December 2018 chapter meeting discussed the challenges that people with mental illness face and offered tips for supporting them. Larry Ellis and Humanists of MInnesota member Mick Anderson discussed their experiences with Guild Incorporated, a nonprofit that offers community services to people with mental illness—Larry as a client and Mick as an employee.HofMN Mary McLeod, whose son has schizophrenia and who volunteers for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota, gave suggestions on how to interact with people with mental illness.

THINK HUMANITY IS MAKING PROGRESS?THIS BOOK COULD DISILLUSION YOU

By Nathan Curland

“Contemporary atheism is a flight from a godless world.” ”The progress of humanity has replaced belief in divine providence.” “The idea that the human species realizes common goals throughout history is a secular avatar of a religious idea of redemption.” These provocative statements open John Gray’s newest book, Seven Types of Atheism.