PLEASE JOIN US!   We meet on the first Sunday of each month in downtown Duluth at the Radisson Hotel (Location Map)
            Socializing begins at 9:00 am.
            Optional breakfast buffet at 9:30 am.
            Presentation from 10:00 until about 11:30.

            Co-Host: David Broman - (218) 349-7455
            Co-Host: Jim Lyttle - (218) 464-1652
             Videographer - Jan Resberg


January Newsletter

January 2012 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Facilitators: Maxine Caserta - 525-8427, 348-4113 & Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806
First Sunday - Radisson Hotel – 9:00 AM Social – 10:00 Brunch

George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com


Reminder – In January, we will meet on the SECOND SUNDAY


Program: Dave Swenson, PhD, College of St. Scholastica and LSF member,

will speak about "The Corporate Psychopath"


Because I plan to continue to bring books to our meetings to share with our members – and hope that you will do the same – I'll be bringing two more on the 8th, Heart of the Land (Essays on the Last Great Places) and Diane Ackerman's exquisitely written An Alchemy of Mind.  See opening below.




Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.


The neocortex has ridges, valleys and folds because the brain kept remodeling itself though space was tight. We take for granted the ridiculous-sounding yet undeniable fact that each person carries around a a complete universe in which trillions of sen­sations, thoughts, and desires stream. They mix privately, silently, while agitating on many levels, some of which we're not aware of, thank heavens.


If we had to remember how to work the bellows of the lungs or the writhing python of digestion, we'd be swamped by formed and forming memories, and there'd be no time left for buying cute socks. My brain likes cute socks. But it also likes kisses. And asparagus. And watching boat-tailed grackles. And bik­ing. And drinking Japanese green tea in a rose garden. There's the nub of it—the brain is personality's whereabouts. It's also a stern warden, and, at times, a self-tormentor. It's where catchy tunes snag, and cravings keep tugging.


Shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations. It's also an impersonal landscape where minute bolts of lightning prowl and strike. A hall of mirrors, it can contemplate existentialism, the delicate hooves of a goat, and its own birth and death in a matter of seconds. It's blunt as a skunk, and a real gossip hound, but also voluptuous, clever, playful, and forgiving.


The brain's genius is its gift for reflection. What an odd, rumi­nating, noisy, self-interrupting conversation we conduct with our­selves from birth to death.




The Dalai Lama Moves 'Beyond Religion' – excerpts - (Huffington Post)


'The fundamental problem is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.

"By inner values I mean the qualities that we all appreciate in others, and toward which we all have a natural instinct, bequeathed by our biological nature as animals that survive and thrive only in an environment of concern, affection and compassion. The essence of compassion is a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being.

"Science, for all the benefits it has brought to our external world, has not yet provided scientific grounding for the development of the foundations of personal integrity -- the basic inner human values that we appreciate in others and would do well to promote in ourselves. What we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without: a secular ethics.

"I am confident that it is both possible and worthwhile to attempt a new secular approach to universal ethics. My confidence comes from my conviction that all of us, all human beings, are basically inclined or disposed toward what we perceive to be good. Whatever we do, we do because we think it will be of some benefit. At the same time, we all appreciate the kindness of others. We are all, by nature, oriented toward the basic human values of love and compassion. We all prefer the love of others to their hatred. We all prefer others' generosity to their meanness. And who among us does not prefer tolerance, respect and forgiveness of our failings to bigotry, disrespect and resentment?

"I am of the firm opinion that we have within our grasp a way, and a means, to ground inner values without contradicting any religion and yet, crucially, without depending on religion.

"At the outset I should make it clear that my intention is not to dictate moral values. Instead, I call for each of us to come to our own understanding of the importance of inner values. For it is these inner values which are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek. Of course, all the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness, can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.


Our December speaker, with his interesting presentation on the many commandments, prompts me to include one of 100 pieces from my most recent book, which follow. Those who would like to give any of my books for New Years, Easter, birthdays, funerals, graduations, April fools or St. Swithen's day should see www.tundracub.com or email tundracub@mchsi.com.  As always, the profits go to educational charities.  

St. George's Commandments

When I was the president of the MN humanists, I occasionally spoke to high school and college students about religion and its freethought alternatives, and in response to a frequently asked question about the Ten Commandments, I said that freethinkers don't have much use for some of them because they primarily deal with a vain and insecure God.  I then offer the following list, explaining that it is probably incomplete, but it provides an example of how most freethinkers operate.

1. Use your head — think critically.  Use your hands — be helpful.  Use your heart — be caring. 2. Remember, everyone needs to be loved.

3. Leave thoughts of gods and miracles, heavens and hells to those who invented them.  Many people believe they need religion to make them be good — we do well without.

4. Be at least as good as your parents.  If they weren't very good, you have an easy job.  If they were great, you're lucky.  If everyone did this, the human race would rapidly improve.

5. Get an education.  It might be expensive, but ignorance costs more.

6. Support democracy.  It's not perfect, but it's the best system running.

7. Support science.  All of your comforts and conveniences derive from science.

8. Make today a little better for someone else, and today will be better for you.

9.  Be tolerant.  Why should others consider your viewpoint if you won't consider theirs?

10. When you screw up, admit it — and apologize.

11.  Appreciate and protect the planet that feeds you.  Recycle.  Don't pollute.

12.  Be good to your body.  Why damage something that took millions of years to evolve?

13.  Practice safe sex and family planning.  The Earth is getting crowded.  Malls, factories and parking lots are expanding at the expense of the forests and farms that sustain us.

Remember, religion is like alcohol.  Most people can take a little without apparent harm, but for some, it's a mind altering drug, which is why the gullible can be fleeced again and again, why true believers die in Wacos and Jonestowns and Heaven's Gate fantasies — and why one fanatic climbed into a lion's den at a Japanese zoo to bring the lion to Jesus.  (Here, kitty, kitty.)  He was mauled. 

It also explains why a New Hampshire couple intended to sacrifice their three children on the church's altar, but were stopped just in time.  Yes, we humans have evolved, but some have evolved a lot more than others.


Prompted again by our Dec, speaker, who kindly included the Great Spaghetti Monster's list of things he'd rather we didn't do,  I want to remind LSF members that, just as the Xtian god has an only begotten son, so does the Spaghetti monster – me – your editor.  For proof, please see the certificate below that allows me to admit seekers to our church, plus one of many images of the Spaghetti Monster and a copy of our holy book. If time allows, I will read passages from it on January 8 to enlighten any doubters. 


Greetings sinners,


Good news. Salvation from your sins and earthly cares is at hand.


I, George Erickson, the Flying Spaghetti Monster Incarnate (the only begotten son of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster) hereby offer you membership in the Fellowship of my Father, the GFSM.


For your Salvation Certificate (sample below) mail your $10.00 membership offering or item of comparable worth to George Erickson, FSMI, 4678 Cedar Island Drive, Eveleth, Mn 55734.  Your certificate will arrive within thirty days.  This is a limited time offer.

Only one certificate per supplicant.  No exceptions.




Sample Certificate of membership

in the congregation of the

Great Flying Spaghetti Monster.


Be it know that on (date here) in the year 1of our GFSM, (your name here) did remit to George Erickson, the Spaghetti Monster Incarnate, who is the only begotten son of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, the sum of $10.00 by personal check in full payment for membership in the congregation of the GFSM universal.  (Stamps, cash, free lube jobs, etc. also accepted.)


Be it also known that dear ______, who has our complete confidence, shall henceforth be known to fellow servers of the GFSM as Apostle ______I.


Apostle _____I is now authorized to bring others to our saving grace so that they will not be "left behind" and to spread our spicy gospel to all the lands, telling potential converts that salvation can be achieved only through the GFSM or his son, the GFSM Incarnate, who will give each and every supplicant his loving attention.  


This, I promise. I have therefore affixed my signature below with noodle # 69.


George Erickson, the earthly iteration of the GFSM.


May the sauce be with you and bring you cheese.



"The most tedious of all discourses are on the subject of the Supreme Being."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)




(source not known)


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