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


Lake Superior


Newsletter – December 2016

Upcoming Events:

Ø LSF Happy Hour
o   Location: Mexico Lindo
o   Date: Thu Dec 1st (monthly on 1st Thu)
o   Time: 4 to 6
Ø LSF Monthly Meeting
o   Location: Radisson Duluth Conference room
o   Date: Sun Dec 4th (monthly on 1st Sun)
o   Time: 9:30 to Noon
Ø LSF Dinner Social
o   Location: JJ Astor (to enjoy Bentleyville Tour of Lights, without having to get cold in the process) – top floor of the Radisson (location changes monthly)
o   Date: Wed Dec 21st (monthly on 3rd Wed)
o   Time: 4:30 to 7:00
Ø TED @ Teatro Zuccone
o   Location: Teatro Zuccone
o   Date: Wed Dec 21st(monthly on 3rd Wed)
o   Time: 7:30 PM
o   Topic: How Great Leaders Inspire Action & Know Your "Why" and How to Tell It

Newsletter Editor: Mark Woodcock
To submit an item for possible inclusion in the Newsletter please contact:


Dec Monthly Meeting – Dec 4, 2016
 Place: Radisson Conference Room

Speaker: Ken Bowers
Ken is educated as a physicist. He is versed in the hard and soft sciences and has taught these and other subjects at the college level. In addition, Ken founded two businesses, in photography/graphics which specialized in journalistic work for activist nonprofits, and in construction focusing on rehab and subdivision of existing structures. Ken has advocated for wider access to health care on the state and national level, and for improved and user friendly public transit at the local level in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Topic: Mainstreaming Micro Housing Options

America, plus many others following America's example, are awash in magical thinking, perpetuated by advertising and the peer pressure it creates, about more for me being the ultimate goal in life, that things count more than people and the rest of nature, and that the human enterprise can forever "grow" with no adverse consequences.
Mainstreaming micro housing options will help us move from consumerism to stewardship as a way of life as a survival necessity, not to mention a likely improved, less stressful and more fulfilling lifestyle. Ken has lived in micro housing for over 30 years and wouldn't have it any other way.

Historical example - Henry Thoreau's home on Walden Pond
 measured 10' x 15', and in 1846 dollars, cost just $28.12 to build
photo courtesy of Mark Woodcock - taken October 23, 2016


I Have a Friend Who Doesn't Believe in Global Warming
by Mark Woodcock, editor of the LSF Newsletter

I have a friend who doesn’t believe in global warming. We met in Mrs. Brynildson’s English class in 10th grade. A year later we became friends while working together at McDonald's. Throughout most of her adulthood she has self-identified as a Republican. To be fully accurate, I’d say she never gave much thought to global warming, but on the rare occasion that I would raise the topic, she would act skeptical, before rapidly shifting the conversation to a topic that interested her. Global warming did not interest her.

A year ago, I was surprised to learn from her that she had changed her position on global warming. Upon inquiring about the “why” of her opinion change, she told me that one of her brothers shared some YouTube videos with her, and that these videos quickly changed her mind. Now she not only believes in global warming, but she says she is very concerned about global warming. She occasionally comments if the weather is unseasonably warm, and says “this is evidence of global warming.” She and other family members have begun storing dried beans and rice in the basement of a farmhouse on their parent’s property. Her family believes this to be sensible preparation for a looming global food crisis that they believe will be triggered by climate change.

Last March my spouse and I went on a 17-day cruise, from Spain to Italy and back again. It was an amazing trip. This friend of mine was kind enough to watch our 3 dogs for all 17 days. Our return flight touched down mid-day, on a week day. My friend knew she would be at work when we arrived at her house to pick up our dogs, so she shared her garage door keypad PIN. Just as expected, we arrived to an empty house. As I was entering the PIN into her garage door keypad, I noticed that her front lights were on. Once again, this was mid-day. As I entered her house I noticed that the house temperature, with no one home, was at least 72 degrees. The light was on above her stove. A string of holiday lights was plugged in and glowing above her basement fireplace mantle, as I walked by to retrieve our pups from her laundry room. I was immediately struck with the irony of the human condition. I do not mean to seem smug. I too am human. We ignore sound reasoning and hold beliefs that could easily be disproved by just a few minutes of honest reflection (AKA free thought). When we change our minds we often do so for the wrong reasons, such as an emotionally charged YouTube video. Sound premises lead to sound conclusions. Unfortunately, emotionally charged premises usually lead to emotionally charged conclusions, such as hoarding rice and beans, rather than making lifestyle changes that might serve to address the perceived problem.

Today is November 28, 2016. I don’t have many friends today who verbally deny global warming.


  • I have a friend who drives a vehicle that gets less than 40 miles per gallon, when vehicles that get over 40 miles per gallon have been readily available for over 25 years
  • I have a friend who sets their thermostat to 72 degrees in the winter, rather than set it for 10 degrees cooler and dress for the season
  • I have a friend who lives in a home that is over 2000 square feet (see square footage comparisons by country)
  • I have a friend who eats meat. In fact, they are so dedicated to eating meat, when dining with them at a pizza place they will say “…you pick the pizza. If it has meat on it, I’ll be happy.” This statement seems to imply that even one meal without meat is an unthinkable sacrifice. See link below to the Stanford Environmental Law Journal (SELJ) article indicating that animal agriculture is one of the primary causes of environmental degradation in general, and climate change specifically. The SELJ is just one source of many that have reached the same conclusion.
  • I have a friend who doesn’t think anything of purchasing an airline ticket for their winter vacation, even though 1 round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect of 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person.
  • I have a friend who has yet to install a programmable thermostat in their home, even though using a programmable thermostat can result in energy savings of 10% or more
Today is November 28, 2016. I don’t have many friends today who verbally deny global warming. Yet most of the bullets above apply to all of my friends today. I don’t mean to be smug. These bullets also apply to me.

Many people who are convinced of the reality of global warming spend a great deal of time fretting about the fact that there are still those who deny its reality. "These people are scientifically illiterate," is often the charge. But isn't the real point not what we say we believe, but how our beliefs impact our daily choices? If the daily choices that are made by the individuals who comprise the two camps (believers and non-believers in global warming) are all-to-often identical, which group is the ignorant group - the believer, the non-believer... ahem, both?

A personal thought: Leo Buscaglia once said, “Concern with how I behave is procrastination." If Leo is correct, the first steps that should be taken on our journey appear clear. If we instead choose to focus on the academic question of what our neighbors believe, might we be engaged in an evasive tactic designed to help us cope with our own cognitive dissonance?

December 25th is fast approaching, but LSF’s Billboard on 220 W. 3 Street will get here first - NEXT WEEK

There is an LSF donation basket on each table at the monthly meetings, and the contributions that are made throughout the year are put to good use in various ways, such as advocating freedom from religion at an abortion clinic (see picture of picketers John Wolforth and Jim Lyttle below), advertising LSF on Minnesota Public Radio, and advertising before movies at the Zeitgeist Theater. Effective December 5th, LSF will also be letting Duluth residents know that if they are questioning religion they are not alone, on a billboard that will appear on Central Entrance. The specific location is 220 West 3rd Street (facing east).  Here is your opportunity to snap a photo suitable for your annual holiday photo cards.

The LSF monthly meeting on December 4th will also be the LSF annual fundraiser. Please help LSF close out the year in the black. Wouldn't it be nice to change that worn out old holiday phrase, yes you know the one, to "Let's advocate reason this season."


Featured LSF Member for December
Rod Sheffer has been a member of LSF since it started in the early 1990's. For many years he would drive the 104 mile route, from his Cedar Lake home in Aitkin, Minnesota, to Duluth, to attend monthly meetings, and converse with like minded intellects, whom he recently described as "some of the smartest people in the state."

A few years back Rod and his wife relocated to Woodbury, MN. The 160 mile drive to Duluth has resulted in his becoming a satellite member of LSF, but he remains fully engaged, in part by sending out daily emails, containing intellectual tapas harvested from the web, and "mini missives," a term he coined for his many personal observations and thoughts.

Here is an example of one of his recent mini missives. Expect to see more of Rod's thoughts in future editions of the LSF newsletter.

"We can assert with confidence that all human ethical and moral codes are the product of human history and experience, and they are judged by their consequences. No deity is required by educated people to explain the origin of ethical and moral codes. We have done this without any help from any external source."  courtesy of Rodney Sheffer

Interesting Rod facts:
 Age: 87
 Profession: Rod retired from teaching high school biology and chemistry in 1991. He is quick to point out that he chose his profession at the age of 16, after developing a special relationship with biology teacher Frank Masterjohn. Immediately following the Masterjohn teacher/mentor relationship, he was fortunate enough to be taught by Margorie Edington, a similarly engaging teacher, from whom he learned chemistry and physics, during his junior year of high school in Rice Lake, WI. Of the two of them, Rod stated, "Those were the people who defined my whole career, and I never regretted my choice."
What prompted him to retire at 62: A good friend of Rod's, also in the science department, retired a year earlier, and shortly thereafter provided some sage advice, "Don't work a day longer than you have to. There are just too many worthwhile things you can do with your life, besides more of the same." So at 62, and after teaching what was perhaps his best year, he took his friend's advice to heart.
Bicycling to his 50th High School Class reunion: At the age of 68, Rod decided he would impress the attendees of his 50th class reunion by bicycling from Grantsburg, WI to Rice Lake, WI, which equates to 70 miles of pedaling over hill and dale. Upon arrival, he was much chagrined to learn that one of his fellow classmates, David Connors, had opted to run the 52 miles from Hayward, WI to the reunion. "He was tough as a railroad spike," said Sheffer, in admiration of David's accomplishment.
He has published two books, including: "God Talk and Other Incoherent Religious Delusions." (April 9, 2010) The book can be found on Amazon at this link: "God Talk and Other Incoherent Religious Delusions" by R. Sheffer

Alumni of Bloomington's Lincoln and Jefferson High Schools thank Mr. Sheffer for his many years of committed teaching, and LSF is honored to count him among its long-term membership.


Summary of the First Meeting of the Lake Superior Freethinkers People of Conscience Committee (POCC)
by Jo Haberman

Fifteen people met on November 12th to begin discussion of forming a new "spoke" or committee of LSF, focused on the subject of Morality Without Superstition.

The idea for LSF-POCC is two fold:

  • To discuss and learn more about secular morality
  • To consider ways that the group might engage in the community, in service of the greater good

After talking about some of the contemporary moral and social issues important to those present, and some of the organizations doing effective work to address these and other issues, there was general agreement that the first step for the group should be to focus on foundational questions, such as:

What criteria should secular people use to differentiate what is moral?
What are the roots of morality and ethics for secular people?
What common values do secular people share as the basis of morality?

Charles Gessert and Mark Woodcock have kindly agreed to facilitate a set of discussions on these and related questions regarding secular moral thought.

It is never too late to join the discussion. The next meetings will be scheduled soon for December and January 2017. If you have an interest in being part of the discussion, or simply attending as a listener, please RSVP to Jo Haberman at:
JoJane@juno.com or (612) 600-7483


Secular Spirituality, Humanistic Mindfulness, Mind-Body Awareness in Fellowship - Frankly the Title Eludes Me
by Gail Matthews

Have you ever found yourself in a setting that suddenly elicited a sense of awe? The funny thing is the settings that can produce this feeling are so varied, it is hard to pin down the root cause. Some people call it having a spiritual experience, but not believing in spirits, I have a hard time calling it that. And the term "secular spirituality" is uncomfortable to me, because the two words seem to be wrestling each other for control. Whatever you call it, the feeling often appears for me at odd moments. While:

  • Walking on a wooded trail
  • Gardening
  • In the presence of great architecture
  • Admiring a piece of art
  • watching natural phenomenon such as a sunrise, sunset, or thunderstorm
  • Listening to a song with lyrics that resonate with my personal experience
  • In a moment of silence
  • Or on rare occasion, simply by coming together with a large group of people for a common purpose

 I am sure we have all been fortunate enough to experience these feelings from time to time. I would like to explore these feelings and related ideas with a group of similarly motivated people. In a chaotic and often worrisome world I would like to find ways of attaining and maintaining inner peace, and just as importantly for me, finding ways of connecting to and fostering inner peace in those around me.

I will be saying a few words on this topic before January's speaker at the LSF monthly meeting. I will also be bringing sign-up sheets to that meeting. If you'd like to sign up now, please email Gail Matthews:


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