Ethical Humanist Society of The Triangle

All programs are at our customary meeting place, Extraordinary Ventures, unless otherwise noted.  We meet from 1:30-3:30 every Sunday unless otherwise noted.  All of our meetings are free, and open to the public. The months for 2014 below are shown as the most recent first.  Our programs for 2013 can be viewed here.


December 7

William Frey will speak on “The Experience and Science of Mindfulness.”  Mr. Frey is a certified, professional co-active coach and has formal training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Nonviolent Communication, conflict resolution and various forms of meditation.  (See his full biography.)  He has taught mindfulness classes at UNC Chapel Hill, and is currently employed by UNC Chapel Hill Human Resources Department as a Assistant Manager of Training and Development.

December 14

Kim Ellington will speak on Camp Quest.  The camp is designed for children from atheist, agnostic, humanist, and other freethinking families.  It began in 1996 out of a reaction to the Boy Scouts of America increasing their enforcement of the requirement that boys in their programs profess a belief in “God”.  The camp now serves children 8 years of age through 17, and has camps in 14 states, and has 2 overseas partners.

December 21

We will celebrate the Winter Solstice with music, film, poetry, prose and dance.  Mysti Mahem will perform several of her songs for us.  Please join us for a celebration of the passing of the season in a secular celebration!

December 28

We will have a discussion of programs earlier in the month by William Frey, and Kim Ellington.  (Neither speaker will be present for these discussions.)


November 2

Dr. Dauv Evans will speak on “Attaining Success The Right Way”.  Dr. Evans is the founder and Chief Success Officer (CSO) of Keen Advisors, LLC; in his role, he serves as a keynote speaker and consultant.  His goal is to help others be successful with overcoming the “how” by finding opportunities in the “now.”  He is author of the book Don’t Forget To Breathe.  Come learn how to be both successful and ethical!

November 9

EHST will hold its fall membership meeting.  This meeting will focus on accomplishments, and challenges faced by the society in the last year as well as looking at what 2015 holds for the society.  Members are highly encouraged to attend and visitors and friends are welcome to find out more about the society.

November 15

The Orange Durham Americans United for Separation of Church and State (ODAU) will hold a concert by Catie Curtis with Special Guest Mary Rocap and Friends at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church (1712 Willow Drive, Chapel Hill, NC) at 7 pm.  This is a fundraiser for ODAU to support their work in advocating for separation of church and state.  You can get tickets at the door (suggested donation of $20) or here.

November 16

Carol Hewitt, the “driving force behind Slow Money NC,” will speak to us about her new book Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money.   Ms. Hewitt’s energy and knowhow are “legendary” (See Indyweek article.)   Ms. Hewitt is a resident of Pittsboro, and her husband is Mark Hewitt, a noted master potter.  Ms. Hewitt is a modern day activist supporting local farmers, and businesses through innovative financing.   Want to be inspired by a local activist, then you don’t want to miss Ms. Hewitt’s talk!

November 23

We will have our annual “Stone Soup” celebration.  This is a traditional celebration for many of the Ethical Culture (aka Ethical Humanist) societies.  The story demonstrates that when we work together, rather than only for ourselves, we can all benefit.  Members bring various cooked, vegetarian foods from their home, and we combine, cook, and eat of the soup to celebrate our humanist community.  We also encourage friends and visitors to join us; our treat.

November 30

Did you know that Bhutan measures not Gross National Product but Gross National Happiness as its most important measure of success?  Eric Weiner wrote about it in his book “The Geography of Bliss.”  Gretchen Niver, a member of EHST, recently travelled to Bhutan and will share her insights into this country along with a wide variety of slides.

The EHST book group will meet at the Chapel Hill Public Library at 3:30 in meeting room C to discuss the book by Frans de Waal Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals which is available in hard and soft cover books as well as in ebook format (at  This discussion is open to anyone who wishes to attend.  Those who wish to attend are highly encouraged to read the book.


October 5

Jan Broughton, an EHST lay leader, will present a community building progran titled “Getting to Know You.” The program is designed to help EHST members, and visitors get to know eachother better by engaging in some small group activities.

October 12

Jim Wyman will speak on “Islam, Ethics, and Honesty.” Mr. Wyman’s talk is based on his own travels, and research on Islam.  The recent debate about Islam between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck provides a good background for Mr. Wyman’s talk.

October 19

Dale McGowan, Education Director for the American Ethical Union, and author of numerous books including “Parenting Beyond Belief” will speak to us on that very topic.

October 25
We will hold a discussion covering ideas and concepts raised at the prior programs in October.



September 7

Duke Scholar-in-Residence Jennifer Verdolin will speak to us about her research in animal mating behavior and what her findings suggest to us about human dating and relationships.  Her new book What Animal Courtship and Mating Tells Us About Human Relationships has much to offer both those who are dating and those in committed relationships.  She will have copies of her book for purchase.  Her book is also available as an ebook via and

September 14

Mandisa Thomas will speak to EHST on September 14th at our regular meeting via Skype.  Her talk is titled “Don’t Just Talk About It, Be About It.”  She will address how modern atheism-humanism can reach out to attract a more diverse range of nonbelievers.  As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., Mandisa works to encourage more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. “The more we make our presence known, the better our chances of working together to turn around some of the disparities we face. We are NOT alone.”

September 21

We will be discussing ideas and questions arising from recent programs such as :

How much of human behavior is “built in”? What is our essential Human Nature?
How much are humans capable of transcending our instinctual/emotional
reactions to act rationally?
What barriers are there to Black Americans coming out as

September 28

We will show a Ted Talk Video by philosopher and author Steven Cave titled “The 4 Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death.”  This brief talk is a summary of his book Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization.  Spoiler alert: There is a 5th way, and humanists should like it very much! We will discuss his talk afterward.


August 3

Our program will be a discussion focused on the points raised in the prior two programs in July.   Timothy Travis asserted that religion itself is an ethical problem which needs more attention from humanists, namely to reject it per se.  The following week Randy Best spoke that humanism was his religion for him, that he did not see a contradiction in the term “religious humanism”.  We will discuss these points and whether they are incompatible or two sides of the same coin.

August 10

We will show a video featuring Patricia Churchland, author of “Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality.”  Steve Palkin of “The Agenda” interviews her about how human morality evolved from the mammalian brain.  Prof. Churchland teaches in the Department of Philosophy of the University of California at San Diego.

The EHST book group will meet from 3:30-5:00 at the Chapel Hill Library Meeting Room C to discuss the book by Stephen Cave “Immortality: The Quest To Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization.”  The meeting is free and open to the public.  Reading the book is highly encouraged but not required.

August 17

The Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Players will present an abbreviated version of “Dead Man Walking.”  The play is based on the book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean which was later adapted into a movie of the same name.

August 24

Dennis Markatos, Executive Director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, will speak to us about the greenway which stretches 2,900 miles from Canada to Key West.   The greenway fosters healthy lifestyles, empowers sustainable transportation, and promotes tourism.  The title of his talk is “Developing the Urban Sister to the Appalachian Trail: The East Coast Greenway Is Coming to Life.”

August 31

EHST Leader Randy Best will talk about the recent convention of the International Humanist and Ethical Union  in London.  He attended as a representative of the American Ethical Union of which EHST is a member organization.


July 6

We are celebrating the 4th of July today with a potluck, and comments from members and visitors about what freedom means to them.  Our congregation is not vegetarian or vegan, nor does it follow any specific dietary program.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, or have a diet which restricts intake of wheat, gluten, or other food, please do come, and bring a dish to share.  We do ask that you write down the ingredients in your food contribution so that those on restricted diets can easily determine if they can enjoy your dish. Main dishes, side dishes, salads, dessert, or nonalcoholic beverages to share are all appropriate items to bring.  If you don’t cook, you may bring a prepared item from your favorite foodstore, restaurant, etc.

July 13

The advances in neuroscience are providing us with good data about how we can maximize our brain’s abilities to reduce stress, as well as to enhance our lives as we grow older.  We will show a PBS program called “Super Brain” featuring Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a neuroscientist, who provides us with useful strategies.  We will also have time to give reactions to the video.   The video is based on the book by Tanzi and Deepak Chopra.

July 20

EHST Member Timothy Travis will speak on “I Am Willing To Die But Not Of Boredom: Getting Humanism Unstuck.”  He will focus on the current growth inhibitors in the humanist movement, and how to move beyond them.  Mr. Travis is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and humanist.

July 27

EHST Leader Randy Best will speak on “Why Ethical Humanism Is My Religion”.   He will also facilitate a discussion of his topic the following week on August 3rd.  Isn’t humanism and religion incompatible?  Ethical Humanism is recognized as a religion by the U.S. Government, but should it  be?   You’ll want to hear Randy’s talk!


June 1

Marcus Mann will highlight the findings of the research he did for his 2013 Master’s Thesis “Triangle Atheists: Stigma, Identity, and Community Among Atheists in North Carolina’s Triangle Region“.  Mr. Mann just received his MA in religious studies at Duke University and will be beginning the PhD program in sociology there in the Fall of 2014.   He will return on June 8th to discuss his work further.

The book club (open to the public) will meet at the Chapel Hill Public Library (meeting room C) from 3:30 – 5:00 to discuss the book by Diane Ravitch Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.  Reading the book is highly encouraged, but not requried to attend.

June 8

Marcus Mann will return to EHST to further discuss his talk about atheists in the Triangle.  Attending his talk on June 1st is recommended but not required.  Please do review his Master’s Thesis cited in the link above so you will be familiar with his research.

June 15

Lyle Estill founder of Piedmont Biofuels will be speaking to us.  He will speak on “Running on Local”.   He has written four books: Small Is Possible: Life In A Local Economy, Biodesel Power: The Passion, The People, The Politics of the Next Renewable Fuel, Industrial Evolution, Local Solutions for a Low Carbon Future, and most recently Small Stories, Big Changes: Agents of Change on the Frontiers of Sustainability (co-authored with David W. Orr).

June 22

Amanda Mueller is the Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Coordinator for the NC Harm Reduction Coalition She will speak to us on the coalition, its successes, and challenges.  In addition to her work for NCHRC,  Ms. Mueller also serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). Prior to joining that board, she worked with Florida SSDP chapters to engage in legislative advocacy for a 911 Good Samaritan Bill, and Florida State University’s Medical Amnesty Policy, comprehensive cannabis reform, and syringe decriminalization.

June 29

Randy Best will facilitate a discussion around an opinion piece by the New York Times columnist, David Brooks, titled “The Neural Buddhists” and the article by Tom Wolfe which inspired Mr. Brooks to write the opinion piece.  Tom Wolfe’s essay “Sorry But Your Soul Just Died” first appeared in Forbes Magazine in 1996.


May 4

Local poet and humanist Hugh Giblin and other local poets will read their poetry.  This is our “First Annual EHST Poetry Program”.  With the arrival of spring, this is our way of appreciating the human experience as seen through the eyes of our poets.

May 11

We are celebrating our annual “Founders Day” by focusing on the life of one of our members Eva Harrington who has been active for many years in Ethical Humanism both locally and in New York.  EHST Leader, Randy Best, will interview Ms. Harrington about her life experiences.  We will also have a brief members meeting to consider a change to our mission statement.

May 18

Jay Gladieux, Project Director for North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, will present a program outlining efforts by several North Carolina organizations to change how the state redistricts after the next census in 2020.   This effort is actually bi-partisan, and legislation has been passed in the North Carolina State House but failed to gain traction in the NC Senate.  Mr. Gladieux will shed light on this effort, and what you can do to help.  A panel discussion will follow his presentation.  Click here for more information.

May 25

EHST Leader Randy Best and member Jan Broughton will present a program featuring the highlights of the 2014 American Ethical Union Assembly.  The annual Assembly brings together representatives from all of the societies composing the American Ethical Union.  Mrs. Broughton is the Secretary of the Board of the American Ethical Union.


April 6

Dr. David Karol will speak on “Psychiatric Care in Correctional Settings.” Dr. Karol will address correctional settings as de facto mental hospitals and will also address the controversy of solitary confinement, particularly in those with mental illnesses.   Dr. Karol is the Chief Psychiatrist for FCC – Butner here in North Carolina, and a member of EHST.

April 13

David Karol will lead a discussion of his talk on April 6th.  Please come even if you were not able to hear his talk last Sunday.

April 20

James Coley will briefly re-present in repackaged form some of the material from his talk on March 30th, shifting the emphasis away from the technical side of it to practical questions about how to think and speak about values if Mackie is right in the first sentence of the first chapter of Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong: “There are no objective values.”  So you need not have attended James’ recent talk to participate in the discussion.

April 27

Randy Best, Leader of EHST, will speak on “A Quest for Meaning in an Uncaring Universe.”  Recent discoveries in cosmology have shed light on the origins and structure of the universe. New evidence for Dark Matter, Initial Rapid Cosmic Inflation,and  Multiple Universes describe a cosmos that is elegant and unimaginably vast. Mr. Best will introduce these concepts and explore human purpose and meaning in a universe that is not concerned with our existence.


March 2

Current science and the human response scientists are continually refining their understanding of our current climate and the effects of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Bill Ward has made a personal investigation into this science and its implications which he will present along with some responses from our neighbors, our community, our state, our country and the world.  Mr. Ward has worked for the Environmental Protection Agency since 2004.

March 9

This program begins at 2:00 p.m. Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Church and State, will give a talk titled “Religious LIberty: the Good, the Bad, and the Truly Ugly” followed by a panel discussion.  Click here for more information.   This is a joint program with the Orange-Durham Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

March 16

Wes Hare, Co-Chair of the  Orange County Peace Coalition and John Heuer, Director for North Carolina Peace Action and President of the Triangle Veterans for Peace will speak to the society.  Mr. Hare will discuss OCPC and its current activities.   John will talk about David Swanson’s new book “War No More:  The Case For Abolition” and the Hartsough-Swanson End War Proposal.  We encourage you to read the book which can be purchased in electronic version (pdf, kindle, audio book, etc.) for $2 here or for a few dollars more as a paperback through Amazon, and through Kobo.  Reading the book is not required, however, to attend this program.

March 23

We are showing the film, Inequality for All, free to the public at our usual venue.  In the documentary Robert Reich demonstrates the pittfalls of the growing inequality in income between the 1% and th 99%. March 30 James Coley will talk to us on “Metaethics and the Basis of Morality Without God”.  James Coley is a humanist and a philosopher who has presented many progams over the years to our society.  He was host of “Ethics Matters” and currently hosts “Radio Free Association” on the local WCOM radio station.


February 2

We will be discussing the talk on January 26th by Duke Prof. Amy Laura Hall, and doctoral student, Kara Slade.  Kara Slade critiqued problems she sees with the moral psychology of Jonathan Haidt.   Come share your thoughts on Ms. Slade’s critique as well as your own thoughs on Haidt’s ideas.   The EHST book club will meet at the Chapel Hill Public Library from 3:30-5:00 (meeting room C) to discuss the book by Jeremy Rifkin: The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis.  The meeting is open to the public and is free.  We encourage all to read or be familiar with the book if you plan to attend.

February 9

To celebrate the upcoming Darwin Day, we will show excerpts of the PBS special “What Darwin Never Knew”.   Darwin’s ideas were developed in a time when not much was known about the actual mechanics of evolution.   It was only after Darwin’s time that we came to understand how prescient he was.

February 16

This program begins at 2:00 p.m.  Common Cause NC will join with us to present the recent Bill Moyers video “State of Conflict: North Carolina” followed by a panel discussion of the issues presented in the film.  Come learn how big money has transformed the political landscape in North Carolina.  Note this event will run longer than our normal time.  Click here for more information.

February 23

Former state Senator Ellie Kinnaird will be with us to provide information to us about how we can respond to the new voter id requirements.  This will be an excellent time to find out how each of you can help ensure that people don’t lose their right to vote.  We will also discuss other issues raised by the program last week.  [Note that the original program for this date has been temporarily postponed until a later date.]


January 5

Rollin Russell will speak to us on “Separation of Church and State: A Troubled History; A Current Crisis.”  Mr. Russell is the head of the Orange-Durham chapter of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  He is a retired minister in the United Church of Christ.

January 12

Debbie Horwitz and Susan Romaine will speak on “The Myths and Facts of Hunger: A Talk with PORCH.”  PORCH is an acronym for People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill Carrboro Homes, and Ms. Horwitz and Romaine are its founders.

January 19

EHST will have its annual meeting of members to elect (or re-elect) officers and trustees and to pass a budget for 2014.  Members as well as friends are encouraged to attend this important business meeting.

January 23

Thursday EHST will cook and serve at the Interfaith Council Homeless Shelter in Chapel HIll.  Cooking is from 4-6 pm, and servers work from 6-7 pm.  Contact Amy Piersma if you are interested in helping or email us at   (We normally cook and serve the 4th Thursday each month.)

January 26

Prof. Amy Laura Hall and Kara Slade will speak on “Sociobology as Ideology”.  Prof. Hall is a Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University.   She will be joined by Kara Slade, a graduate student at Duke who works with Prof. Hall on issues related to Jonathan Haidt’s work in moral psychology.

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    We meet every Sunday from 1:30-3:30 at
    Extraordinary Ventures
    200 South Elliot Rd
    Chapel Hill, NC
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    a humanistic congregational community promoting the cultivation of ethical values founded on reason and science and inspired by the love of humanity.