MHA Newsletter: Issue 5

Spring Equinox Party

March 18, Lucy and Mike Mull threw a BIG Spring party for MHA members. There was a pinata, party favors, and a jumping castle for the kids… Tequila for adults!

Here are some comments from party goers:

“Hello Humans. I just wanted ya’ll to know I had a great time at my party!!!! The Tequila was really good!!! I think the children had a good time and there was enough room for the adults to relax also. I am looking forward to many more adventures soon. There is the Summer Solstice!!! How about mayday?” ~ Lucy Mull

“Lucy + tequila. Enough said 😂” ~ Ed Struble

“This was a great gathering that was relaxed and full of laughs from watching the children racing around in the police car to watching Lucy do shots!!”~ Nicole Anne

“And Nicole and Robert’s Romanian dessert was awesome! Maybe post the recipe??” ~Karla

“The fire smelled great too! It was so peaceful and relaxing. My daughter takes a while to warm up to new people, but by the end of the night she was driving police cars and hopping on the bigger four-wheeler with her brother like she lived there. The bounce house made her whole year. My son loved exploring the woods (which we don’t have at our house) and was happy to be with his best friend Andrew. The sunset was really pretty that night too. My husband loved the burgers (as did everyone I’m pretty sure) and he walked away with the number of the “cow man”. Ok, I realize this all sounds melodramatic, but we seriously did have that good of a time! Lucy and Mike were so welcoming and it was just the perfect setup.” ~ Heidi

Morganton March for Science

Support for science is an essential component of humanism. The Humanist Manifesto III articulates this point:

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.

In conjunction with the March For Science in Washington, DC, the MHA organized a local march. Heidi Gould spearheaded the organization and promotion of the Morganton March for Science. Prior to the march, a group of humanists met at Food Matters Market to create pro-science signs.

Over 100 participants showed on April 22 to join the procession from Sterling Street to Union Street to Green Street chanting “Science not silence!” The group ultimately gathered at the Courthouse Square to hear local science professionals speak on the issues. Robert Vasile and Jessica Howell delivered powerful messages both personal and global about the effects of the current anti-science movement. The mic was then opened to other members of our local community to share their ideas in support of the myriad benefits of science.

Check out the video montage of the Morganton March for Science provided by Arron S Joyner.

Kid’s Social

Our new Director of Family Activities, Nicole Vasile, organized a kid’s social at Martha’s Park after the March for Science. MHA youngsters played games in the sunshine and enjoyed a picnic lunch while the grownups socialized in the shade.

 The Great Kayaking Caper

Five paddlers. Five boats. Five hundred feet. Five minutes. Five zillion gallons of water.

Two paddlers. Three swimmers. Four boats.

Zero paddlers. Five wet motorists. One great story to tell!

New Members

Warmest welcome to Shea Ward, Margaret Dula, Shannon Carpenter, Heidi Gould, Abigail Taylor, Mark Vitrone, Bill Vaassen, Pam Genant, Morgan Frost, Ed and Darcy Struble. The MHA is so lucky to attract such incredible people.

Congratulations to proud parents, Meredith Potter and Josh Propst, and a special welcome to Oakley Lucille Propst, the youngest member of our fold!

Member Bios

My name is Shannon Carpenter. I was born here in ole Burke County. I was raised in the church, but my analytical mind prevented me from ever digesting religious dogma or anything without serious cogitation. I was in the USMC for a short time in my early twenties. I went to WPCC for a while. I am reclusive, eccentric, cerebral, and queer. My favorite past times are being alone in nature, running, reading, writing, and altruism. I hope that this group can show people in the community that good things can be accomplished by folks without faith-based values. I will close with a quote from my favorite author “After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager.’ “-William S Burroughs

My name is Morgan Frost.  I’m 33 years old and have been married to my husband, Dennis, for 14 years.  We have one son,  Avery, who is 2. I’m an Eastern NC native but moved to Morganton a year ago.  I have my bachelor’s degree in Human Services with an emphasis on Gerontology (aging services) but I don’t work outside the home. I love doing crafts and spending time with my son. He is my world. I was introduced to MHA by another member and honestly, it has been a lifesaver to find a group of like-minded people.

My name is Margaret Dula. I am from Morganton but had been away helping care for my mother until recently. Helping her was more than I could handle and I needed to make a change for my own well- being. I was having trouble finding an affordable, safe place that would allow me to keep my two dogs when I saw a roommate ad posted by John Clark, an MHA member. He told me about humanism and I found it to be an ideology that I could get behind. I’m not an atheist but I strongly believe in the innate goodness and compassion of Man. Right now health issues have grounded me but I hope to return to the workforce soon and put my Sociology degree to good use. But for now, I will focus on being active in the MHA.

Abigail Taylor: I enjoy writing poetry, music and the occasional essay, photography, graphic design, film (watching them, talking about them and occasionally trying to make them), singing with my band Sycamore Bones, performing in community theatre, hiking, and dancing to everything and anywhere. I work for the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce as the Manager of Tourism, and I am also co-owner/writer and Editor in Chief of The Lenoir Voice, an online journal focusing on the arts, environment and religious issues.

I was so into being a Christian til college that I was the lead singer of my youth band and have cross tattoos on my wrists. Then I made an atheist friend the first year of film school and my brain pretty much exploded. Since then I have been an agnostic wannabe Buddhist with an existential crisis about once a year. I am the only non-believer in my family other than my grandmother, so that’s something special we share. It’s been said of (at least progressive) religious people that they take what has already been proved by science then fill the unknown part with “God”. As a recovering believer, I know it can be a hard habit to break, especially when you have lived a privileged life (like I must be blessed, right?). So I have a lot of empathy for Christians who can’t reconcile the overwhelming evidence against what they think is God. I know that I know very little, except that love just feels really good and it’s good to spread it around, and that fear of the unknown is a big waste of what could otherwise be used as creative energy.

I’ve had this dream for a long time of starting a kid’s improv and acting troupe, wherein the kids create their own theatre and learn to be part of a team. I was a part of one when I was younger, and it was one the best experiences of my life. My other big dream is to make documentaries. I’ve never really considered being a part of a humanist community until I met Isaac, Sam and everyone in MHA. It’s a group that feels very exciting to be a part of. I love all aspects of MHA so far, but especially MHA’s efforts to give back to the community.

Stay tuned for more bios on our members in Issue 6 of the MHA Newsletter!

How can You be Moral without Jesus?

By Rusty Harrison, MHA Newsletter Editor

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Morganton Humanist Alliance

Because many Christians associate morality with religious faith, they often have great difficulty understanding how, without Jesus, non-believers could even have morals. This confusion results from a poor understanding of how moral development works. Hopefully, this article can help to clear things up.

Psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg, provided a research-based explanation of moral development which divides the process into three levels of moral achievement.

In level one, moral behaviors are learned. Newborn babies have no morality. Feral child research has shown that children who are not exposed to other humans do not develop a moral sense.

We begin to socialize very young children by rewarding culturally acceptable behaviors and punishing culturally unacceptable behaviors. The moral rules for a culture come from external sources like parents, teachers, ministers, religious texts, laws, etcetera.

At first, children will follow the rules whenever a rule enforcer is watching but will break the rules when they feel there will be no consequences. “I’ll do what I need to get what I want,” is the slogan for the first level of moral development. Many adults who remain at this first level of moral development are categorized as sociopaths. When considering the morality of non-believers, Christians at level one ask the question, “Why would non-believers behave morally without the rewards and punishments of Heaven and Hell to motivate them?”

In level two, older children will internalize the moral rules they have learned and will begin to self-regulate their behavior because they wish to be considered “good boys” or “good girls.” Morality begins to feel like a gut level sense of right and wrong. In level two, learned morality becomes so deeply ingrained that most people have difficulty accepting that their moral code was actually learned in the first place. Much of humanity never progresses beyond this level of moral development.

Christians in level two accept the moral codes provided by certain parts of the Bible as their source of morality. In level two, when asked why a certain behavior is wrong, the Christian will answer that it is wrong because the Bible says its wrong. When considering the morality of non-believers, Christians at level two ask the question, “How could non-believers know right from wrong without the Bible?”

For folks who never venture beyond their own culture, level two enables them to easily navigate their social environment. However, people at this limited level of moral development are merely reflecting the culture in which they were raised. The problem here is that a powerful gut feeling of right and wrong gives every level two person from every culture the same sense of certainty that their moral code is the correct one. Hence, the ongoing conflicts across history between Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and so on. In level two, an individual reared in Nazi Germany could feel perfectly moral in persecuting Jews. Using the Bible’s pro-slavery passages, a level two Southerner in the 1800s might have felt no moral conflict at enslaving another human being. Modern, level two Christians may feel morally justified in the mistreatment of homosexuals.

People who achieve level three, the highest level of moral development, will test the rules of their respective cultures against certain universal litmuses such as harm done, fairness, empathy, and respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons. Religious dogma can be an obstacle to achieving the highest level of moral development when the moral code must be accepted on faith and never challenged. People at the highest level morally transcend time and place and achieve a morality that can override cultural programming. By asking questions like, “Does this cause harm? Is it fair? Would I want someone I love to be treated this way? Are people degraded by this?” a person born anywhere at any point in time could easily determine that slavery, persecution of Jews and mistreatment of homosexuals are all immoral behaviors.

Level two morality demands no risk at all. Level two folks will be perfectly in synch with the majority of their culture. If the culture indicates stoning women who wear pants instead of dresses, people at level two will be onboard. Level three requires the strength of character to speak out against culturally accepted, but immoral laws, rules, and customs. The human race advances morally because people at level three recognize and fight against immoral cultural norms.

A level three Christian would have no confusion about the morality of non-believers as she would understand that morality does not originate from a book, but from a common consensus about how people should treat each other.

MHA MEETINGS AND INFORMATION:

Regular meetings are held the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 pm, usually at Western Piedmont Community College, JBH 160

Social gatherings are held the second Thursday of every month. Locations will be announced as events are posted.

Family gatherings are held monthly, alternating between a Saturday and a Sunday. Dates and locations will be announced when the events are posted.

For more information about the Morganton Humanist Alliance, check out our facebook page or email morgantonhumanistalliance@gmail.com

For information about the American Humanist Association, visit their website.