Recent Events (2016)

Our current calendar of events is on our home page and in our newsletter.

When What
Monday, September 25th
7:00 PM

Dinner Discussion: The President's First Pardon

Join us for a discussion together over dinner at Wood-n-Tap, 2100 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden Link to map of the Hamden Wood 'N Tap restaurant location.

On September 25, 2017, President Trump granted a Presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. This is the first and only pardon granted by this president to date. Glenn Beck's media outlet provides a montage of outraged quotes from a list of people and reports Trump’s response that Joe Arpaio kept Arizona safe. One supporter seems to credit Arpaio's tough stance on drunk driving with scaring him sober. But there’s some question that Arpaio kept anyone safe. East Valley Tribune  writers Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin won a Pulitzer Prize for their series showing Arpaio's priorities endangered public safety. Additionally, two articles in the local Phoenix New Times clearly display evidence of incompetence and bullying by Arpaio's men. Still, his tenure as elected Sheriff lasted 24 years. And finally, if you didn’t know Presidential pardons could be challenged, the Washington Post explains quite a bit.  So what do you think of all of this? Is he an old man getting flack for being good at his job? Is he a jerk who deserves a taste of his own medicine?

Please RSVP on Meetup or to development@cthumanist.org

Saturday, September 23rd
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: “Guns, Germs, and Steel”

Our book for September was “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by geographer and anthropologist Jared Diamond. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of California’s Gold Medal!

Note the Date: The book discussion was the 4th Saturday of the month, Sept. 23 (instead of Sept. 16).

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, September 18th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: What's Next for Civil Liberties?

Join David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, for a discussion about the future of civil liberties under the Trump administration and to learn more about the ways in which the ACLU of Connecticut will be working to advance liberty, justice, and equality in the Constitution State.

David J. McGuire is the executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that defends, promotes, and preserves individual rights and liberties under the U.S. and Connecticut Constitutions in the courts, at the legislature, and in the state's 169 towns and cities. David joined the ACLU of Connecticut in 2007. His primary areas of legal interest are prisoner rights, digital privacy and free speech issues. He has also taken a leading role in pressing for police accountability legislation and was instrumental in passing laws to reform police complaint procedures and police use of Tasers. McGuire received his B.A. in history from Purdue University in 2003 and graduated cum laude from Western New England College School of Law in 2006. After law school, he clerked for the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court.

Sunday, September 17th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

September board and standing committee meetings

All members are welcome to attend.

Monday, September 4th
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, September 2nd
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: More on Guns, Germs and Steel

To get you in the mood for this month’s book discusion, we will watch a presentation by Jared Diamond on “Guns, Germs and Steel.”

Monday, August 28th
7:00 PM

Dinner Discussion: Topic Is Amazon Evil?

We held a discussion together over dinner at Wood-n-Tap, 2100 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden Link to map of the Hamden Wood 'N Tap restaurant location.

What did you think when you heard that Amazon plans to acquire Whole Foods? The internet is mixed. Some are alarmed (The New York Times: “Amazon Bites Off Even More Monopoly Power”), while others are pooh-pooing that sentiment (Forbes: “Five Reasons Why ‘The Retail Apocalypse’ Is A False Scare Story”). What about reports that Amazon is so afraid of theft that it abuses its employees (Vanity Fair: “Amazon Reportedly has Scoreboards to Shame its Workers”)? Some see a more generalized monopoly problem rather than a problem specifically with Amazon (American Prospect: “Bring Back Antitrust”). But nobody can deny that Amazon is astonishingly large (Visual Capitalist: “The Extraordinary Size of Amazon in One Chart”). So what do you think? Is Amazon using its size, influence, and power for good or evil? Is an organization that large destined to be evil?

Sunday, August 27th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

August board and standing committee meetings

All members are welcome to attend.

Monday, August 21st
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: John Dietrich and the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

Former HAC President and Vice-President Doug Peary was the speaker at our August monthly meeting. Doug talked about his work publishing the sermons of humanist Unitarian minister John Dietrich, and Dietrich's life, including the period spent at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

We will start with half an hour of coffee and conversation at 7:00 PM. The main program will start promptly at 7:30 PM

Saturday, August 19th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

Our book for August was the recent, short, non-fiction work by Tom Wolfe, the Kingdom of Speech.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, August 7th
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, August 5th
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: The Twelve Chairs

This story, based on the 1928 novel by Ilf and Petrov, takes us back to the years following the Russian Revolution, as the aristocracy finds itself struggling to adapt to communist governance. While a seemingly Tolstoyesque tale, the screenplay is written and directed by Mel Brooks, and will keep you in suspense, and probably hysterics, as well. As summer draws to its close, this is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Monday, July 24th
7:00 PM

Dinner Discussion: The Johnson Amendment

On May 3rd, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the IRS to exercise discretion in cases related to the Johnson Amendment. In his acceptance speech for the Republican Nomination, he had vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment. What is the Johnson Amendment? Is it good or bad from a humanist perspective? Join us to consider this together over dinner at Wood-n-Tap, 2100 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden Link to map of the Hamden Wood 'N Tap restaurant location.

Sunday, July 23rd
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

July board and standing committee meetings

Monday, July 17th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: All Life Springs From a Single Cell

John Pawelek was our featured speaker with an updated version of his talk on evolution, All Life Springs from a Single Cell.

A prominent USNH member and a long-time cancer investigator at the Yale School of Medicine, John has fascinated us in the past with presentations on his work focusing on the skin cancer melanoma.

Saturday, July 15th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Our book for July was Riders of the Purple Sage, a classic western by Zane Grey.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers. It is available free online at Project Gutenberg, since it’s out of copyright. Apparently the "Restored Edition" from 2005 contains material that did not appear in the serialization and original book edition, and gives the story more depth.

Monday, July 3rd
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, July 1st
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: Coney Island

In the late nineteenth century, a barrier island off the southern Long Island coast named for the wild rabbits that inhabited the place, and famously referred to as “Sodom by the Sea,” developed into an area famous for its hotels, beaches, amusement parks, and unbridled hedonism (not to mention hot dogs). For those of us at home this weekend, join us for a trip into the past, and learn about this fascinating place in a wonderful documentary by Ric Burns.

Sunday, June 25th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

June board and standing committee meetings

Saturday, June 24th
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Annual Picnic at Gayle Walter's Home in New Haven

Gayle Walter kindly volunteered to once again host our annual picnic at her home in New Haven. The address was given in the newsletter. Members were asked to bring a dish to share.

The picnic replaced the June monthly meeting.

Saturday, June 17th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: White Trash: The 400-Year Old Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

Our book for June was White Trash: The 400-Year Old Untold History of Class in America by historian Nancy Isenberg.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, June 5th
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, June 3rd
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: Verna, USO Girl

"With Memorial Day just behind us and the anniversary of the Normandy Invasion just ahead, this is a great time for the story of a young woman whose dreams and hopes for her future take place in the last months of the Second World War. Based on a story by Paul Gallico, the screenplay by Albert Innaurato, this film illustrates how life’s choices inform the fragility and evanescence of our days."

Sunday, May 21st
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

May board and standing committee meetings

Saturday, May 20th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower by Tom Krattenmaker

Our book for May was Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Yale Humanist Community Board member and award-winning USA Today columnist Tom Krattenmaker..

As a special treat, Tom joined us to discuss his book!

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, May 15th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: Chris Stedman's Farewell Talk

Yale Humanist Community Executive Director Chris Stedman spoke at two previous HAC monthly meetings. We enjoyed a final talk from Chris before he moved to Minneapolis to help build the Humanist Center of Minnesota.

Chris Stedman is the incoming founding Director of the Humanist Center of Minnesota and outgoing founding Director of the Yale Humanist Community. A Fellow at Yale University, Chris was previously a Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and a content developer and trainer for Interfaith Youth Core. He currently serves as a Fellow at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College.

Chris is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, “an intimate and deeply affecting portrait… [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch” (Booklist, Starred Review). He has appeared on CNN, msnbc, PBS, and Fox News, has spoken at numerous conferences and universities, and has written for many publications including Salon, CNN, msnbc, The Advocate, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and The Washington Post. Details named him one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo” and Mic called him, “the millennial who’s busting every stereotype about atheists.” He holds a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion from Augsburg College (with minors in English and Social Welfare) and an M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago.

Saturday, May 6th
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: The Hermitage

Founded by a Russian Czar in the eighteenth century, this art museum in St Petersburg, Russia, is one of the world’s greatest art institutions, with a collection of over three million works. While the buildings and the art are not of Russian origin, the totality of the ensemble is, indeed, Russian. Created by the Czarist Royalty and the Soviet Commissars who overthrew them in the early twentieth century, this institution ties its great art to the colorful and often tragic history of the country. Join us for an illuminating view of this magnificent cultural institution.

Sunday, April 30th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

April board and standing committee meetings

We held our board meeting one week later than normal to allow members to participate in the Walk Against Hunger.

Sunday, April 23rd
1:00 PM (registration)

Connecticut Food Bank Walk Against Hunger

The Walk Against Hunger was held at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven. Register for the HAC walk team or make a donation.

Saturday, April 22nd
1:00 PM onward

The March for Science, New Haven

Humanists support science. Humanist Manifesto 3, "Humanism and its Aspirations" says: "Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence."

The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.

Building on the success of the Women's March on Washington in January, the March for Science will be held on Earth Day (Saturday April 22), 2017.

If you can, please attend the main march in Washington, DC. Failing that, please participate in one of the hundreds of satellite marches. including one in Hartford.

The New Haven march was held at the College Woods Pavilion in East Rock Park (the old location for the Walk Against Hunger) at 1 PM.   An hour of community events was followed by a rally at 2 PM and a march (down Whitney Avenue and back up Orange Street) at 3 PM.

Monday, April 17th
7:00 PM

28th Anniversary Meeting: The American Circus, RIP

Our anniversary meeting featured an illustrated lecture, inspired by the recent announcement of the forthcoming demise of the great Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, by Arthur H. Saxon, author of P. T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man; The Life and Art of Andrew Ducrow & The Romantic Age of the English Circus; Enter Foot and Horse: A History of Hippodrama in England and France; and numerous other works dealing with the history of the circus and its figures.

The speaker, who holds a Ph.D. in the History of the Theatre and Dramatic Criticism from Yale University, and who is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, has been a spectator and occasional reviewer at circuses for nearly eighty years. In addition to touching on his long involvement with that entertainment, he will discuss a number of the circus’s more famous artists and owners; the so-called “Nouveau Cirque” and its best-known example, Le Cirque du Soleil; Yale’s own sometimes embarrassed association with the “big top;” besides boldly addressing the contentious topic of the influence on circuses and zoos of such animal-rights organizations as PETA and the Humane Society. The speaker may have a few copies of his ancient works for sale, and will also exhibit several choice items from his personal collection that will delight both the ladies and the gentlemen.

We started with a pot-luck dinner at 7:00 PM. The main program was delayed due to various technical problems until well after 8 PM.

Saturday, April 15th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett.

Our book for April was “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” by Daniel C. Dennett.

For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why—and how—it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life? Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious screed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, April 3rd
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, April 1st
1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: A Face in the Crowd (1957)

We started with half an hour of conversation at 1:30 PM. The movie started at 2 PM and ended just after 4 PM. We finished off with 30 minutes of discussion.

This film, released 60 years ago, about the rise and rot of a populist hero, was prescient at the time, and eerily indicative of our society now in 2017. Observing our currently elected government, it illustrates the evolution of fiction to fact. This brilliant work by Budd Schulberg, starring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau, and directed by Elia Kazan, will test you in ways you may not have thought possible.

Sunday, March 26th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

March board and standing committee meetings

Saturday, March 25th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Special Visit from Evan Clark of The Humanist Experience

In a special event, Evan Clark, co-host of the podcast, “The Humanist Experience,” told us about his work.

The Humanist Experience is billed as a country-trotting storytelling series produced for Foundation Beyond Belief. The creators say, “The main thrust of our work is to encourage people in the secular community to take Humanistic principles out of the realm of pure intellectualism and into action. Our primary vehicle for this is storytelling: usually stories of life-changing encounters with modern social issues, which serve as a catalyst for discussion and emotional education.”

Evan Clark is a facilitator, activist, and designer who is currently the chair of the Secular Student Alliance and has over 10 years experience creating and leading community groups for social change.

Monday, March 20th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower

Can nonreligious people follow Jesus? And if so, why would they want to? Emphatically yes, says Tom Krattenmaker — because it will deepen their lives and help create a more humane world. Krattenmaker, religion-in-public-life columnist and author of the new book, “Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower,” will discuss his provocative claim and show how the figure of Jesus, engaged in a secular way, is powerfully applicable to contemporary life, and how his ethic and example can transform much of what ails us both as individuals and a society.

Tom Krattenmaker is an award-winning author and USA Today contributing columnist, specializing in religion in public life, and communications director at Yale Divinity School. His books and articles have been honored by the American Academy of Religion, Religion Newswriters Association, Foreword Reviews, and others. Krattenmaker has spoken at numerous conferences and colleges around the country and has appeared in media outlets including PBS, Fox News, National Public Radio, ESPN, and the New York Times.

The HAC book discussion in May will feature Tom’s book.

Saturday, March 18th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf

Our book for March was “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World” by Andrea Wulf.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, March 6th
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, March 4th
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: The Great Cathedral Mystery

Begun at the end of the thirteenth century and structurally complete by 1418, the great cathedral of Florence, Italy, needs only a dome to enclose its vast altar which spans 150 feet. The problem is that no one knows how to accomplish the task. One man, trained as a goldsmith, and not an engineer or architect, steps forward to build the great dome of Santa Maria Del Fiore. Join us to witness, and understand, this monumental achievement of the Italian Renaissance and its impact on our civilization.

Sunday, February 26th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

February board and standing committee meetings

All members are welcome to attend.

Monday, February 20th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: Darwin’s Ecological Experiment

To mark Darwin Day, we learned about the bizarre story of the greening of Ascension Island, a project conceived by Darwin's closest friend, Joseph Dalton Hooker.

Saturday, February 18th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop

Our book for February was “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart” by Bill Bishop. Mr. Bishop was a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman when he began research on city growth and political polarization with the sociologist and statistician Robert Cushing. Bill Clinton recommended the book during his solo performance at the Connecticut Forum.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, February 6th
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.
Saturday, February 4th
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Humanist Explorations: Out of My Dreams

As we begin a new year, albeit somewhat inauspiciously, we can celebrate the life and work of one of the true unsung (pardon the unintentional pun) humanists of the twentieth century, Oscar Hammerstein II. In his writing and the lyrics for a thousand songs, he touched upon the human condition in ways rarely exceeded for the sensitivity contained therein. Join us for this informative and uplifting look at one of the true optimists in all of history.

Sunday, January 29th
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

January board and standing committee meetings

All members are welcome to attend. This month's board meeting was postponed a week from the previously announced date to allow members to attend the Women's March on Washington.

Saturday, January 21st
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Book Discussion Group: The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby

Our book for January is “The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought” by Susan Jacoby. We had planned to discuss this in December, but postponed that discussion due to snow.

Copies of the book are widely available in public libraries in Connecticut, and at local and online booksellers.

Monday, January 16th
7:00 PM

Monthly Meeting: A Journey in Spain

January has become the month in which we welcome Steve and Susan Boshi with a travelogue based on their travels the previous summer.

Steve says, “In 711 AD, North African Muslims, or Moors, stormed across the Mediterranean into Gibraltar, and began the domination of the Iberian Peninsula. By 1492, the reconquista had pushed them from Spain, leaving behind Catholic rule, strongly influenced by Muslim culture. Join us for an armchair voyage to this fascinating place where we will explore some of the most important destinations in Spain, including Barcelona, Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada with its magnificent Alhambra.”

We will start with half an hour of coffee and conversation at 7:00 PM. . The main program will follow brief announcements at 7:30 PM

Saturday, January 7th
2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

POSTPONED TO Saturday, February 4 due to snow

Humanist Explorations: Out of My Dreams

This meeting has been postponed until February

As we begin a new year, albeit somewhat inauspiciously, we can celebrate the life and work of one of the true unsung (pardon the unintentional pun) humanists of the twentieth century, Oscar Hammerstein II. In his writing and the lyrics for a thousand songs, he touched upon the human condition in ways rarely exceeded for the sensitivity contained therein. Join us for this informative and uplifting look at one of the true optimists in all of history.

Refreshments will be served.

Monday, January 2nd
7:00 PM
New Haven area social dinner at Turkish Kebab House, 1157 Campbell Ave., West Haven Link to map of Turkish Kebab House restaurant location.

Click here to see some other events we've enjoyed over the years.