American Humanist Association | Humanist Network News Ezine Archives

Letters to the Editor

Re: Secular lobbyist challenges O'Reilly's X-mas campaign, (story by HNN, Nov. 30, 2005).


Bill O'Reilly is a pompous numbskull, who's loud and obnoxious. He butts in all too often never letting his guests finish their sentences. Why Ms. Brown guests on his show is beyond me.

--David Cottun, Los Angeles, Calif.


Somebody should inform Lori Lipman Brown that she might have told O'Reilly that the Founders and the general population didn't celebrate Christmas as we do.

It still was a very minor religious holiday until about the middle of the 19th century. The big deal then was Easter. If you ask the Smithsonian how to decorate your 18th century home in a manner typical of the period, they likely will tell you that that just wasn't done in the 18th century. It was considered a pagan practice.

--Norma Jean Wade, Ann Arbor, Mich.



I'm so glad to hear the online/podcast from the IHS. I really enjoyed the entire program from the music to the interviews. It was a pleasure to listen to it. I have been meaning to put IHS as a beneficiary on some of my investments. Listening today has motivated me to follow through on that, including making another online donation.

I enjoyed hearing about Matt Cherry's experience as a Humanist Celebrant, something I am currently applying for. Matt's discussion of Humanism in the world was interesting too. It was also good to hear Larry Jones discuss the impact the IHS is having worldwide.

Congratulations on all the progress. I look forward to listening to more and I've passed this info on to others.

--Richard Cotter, New Paltz, N.Y.


I'm disappointed that I will miss the newsletter once a month. As a dial-up customer (still) it takes too long to download audio files. And I'd much rather read the newsletter than listen to it.


--Janet, Malden Bridge, NY


Hi. I just downloaded your first podcast which I think is great. I am really glad you are doing this. I have been a long-time reader of the old HNN.

One suggestion though, you need to put a bass cut and a pop filter in your recordings to cut out the microphone pops and other deep bass thumps that are making my speakers go nuts. Anybody listening to this with with good headphones or speakers that have good bass response will probably find this annoying as well.

Other than that little quibble, it is great to have this new service. Keep up the good work.

--Jeff Knapp, Poulsbo, Wash.


I guess you've gone the way of the telephone companies--service the well-to-do only and the heck with the rest of the world, whether they depend on you or not.

For this senior citizen on a limited fixed income, going to an audio format for the Humanist Network News is out of the question -- my used computer has no audio card. Nor can I afford to have one put in right now. Your current issue is out of my league, literally. 'Guess you've defined your target audience to suit yourselves. This 'old dog ' started programming computers in the mid '60's, but these days, I have no use for an iPod, nor the money to upgrade my computer. I'm one very disappointed reader, and I wonder if I'm the only one.

--D. M. Wood, Somerset, N.J.

[Editor's Note: As we mentioned before, you do not need an iPod to listen to the audio HNN.]


I very much enjoyed your first PodCast. I did your homework assignment, and I found 307 GodCasts, 6 under humanism, and 9 under atheist.

I am delighted that you are doing your part to rectify this terrible imbalance. I do have some suggestions for future podcasts. First, more music if you can. Second, a transcript to read along with the audio. Third, you need better acoustic qualities where you record the podcast. Ideally, a small room with carpet or corkboard on the walls. Also, I would love to see you release a weekly podcast, perhaps one per month replacing the e-zine as now, and less critical or even entertainment only material on the other weeks. I realize your resources are limited, but I think this new venue will help secure a wider audience. And I personally would greatly enjoy it. I applaud the work you are doing. Don't stop.

--'Sedro' Ray Wall, Pontiac, Mich. Organization: The Bright's Network


Just listened to the Podcast... Great show... hope it goes well. Nice to put a voice to the face. Sweet Reason would be an interesting and usefull addition as well as a world news round up.

Best wishes

--Andrew Dixon, Isle of Man Organization:


I just enjoyed the audio program for the first time and followed the links to some great Humanist anthems. For free, too!

Please find enclosed a very late addition to the Humanist song collection. We sang it here at a gather-up of the Humanist groups in Ireland, though it is more in the Dylan protest style than Irish folk music.


I hope you can add it to your links.

--Les Reid, Belfast Humanist Group, N Ireland


Please don't abandon your print version.

--Barbara Stocker, St. Louis, MO
Organization: Rationalist Society of St. Louis


Dear Editor and staff,

Congratulations to you and your staff of Webmasters and Webmistresses and presenters on an excellent pod-caste performance! A great leap forward for the IHS and a wonderful new service for subscribers.

You are coming over loud and clear in England.

I would be happy to re-publish any of your material [articles and papers etc., on humanist themes in my Athenaeum Library, which is the largest non-commercial on-line library of philosophical source material on the Internet [60,000 to 80,000 visitors per day]

I already have lots of humanist stuff in the huge library, but I am always on the lookout for more well-written quality pieces like the stuff you write here.

Please give the ATHENAEUM LIBRARY a mention if you don't mind?

More power to your elbows guys and gals -- keep up the good fight -- you are doing a wonderful job.


Jud Evans, North West of England
Link URL:


I like the idea of having your newsletter in podcast form, but the regular newsletter should still be available. Many people, such as myself, have dial-up and it takes a long time to download a podcast. I appreciate the newsletter service, but I thought you should know that many of your regular readers will not be able to listen to your podcast. (I'll be listening to at least this one, because I have the time.)

--Mike, Ohio

Re: When is it no longer personal?, (column by HNN, Nov. 30, 2005).


This is a great opportunity for to sponsor a monthly agenda for high school clubs interested in Humanism. Teachers can suggest to students Who come to them to visit this site as a guide to starting their own club. The students can spend two club meetings a month on one of our suggested topics. One to discuss and the second to discuss again after some reflection and introduce the next topic.

Preliminary agenda ideas:
  • What is Humanism? Is it a religion? When did it start?
  • Read the Humanist Manifesto and discuss it.
  • Define Secular. Whose duty is tolerance?
  • Define Ethics.
  • Is Religion necessary for a moral society?
  • Etc.

--My, USA

[Editor's Note: Through its grant fund, The Institute for Humanist Studies is a major financial supporter of the Secular Student Alliance. The SSA works to support the growing secular student movement in high schools and colleges. Through their Web site, anyone can request a group starting packet]


Now might be a good time for the school system to make this a topic for discussion in the classroom.

However, unless handled with tact and aplomb, I fear it could lead to an escalation of hostilities. Blatant visual displays of religion seems to be in vogue these days as conflicts based on religious affiliation dominate the news. The teacher might pose questions as to what each religion stands for, and in what manner its original teachings were intended for the betterment of mankind.

One must go beyond the symbols, dogma and blind adherence to tradition that has characterized organized religion for centuries. If, upon closer scrutiny, the students discover that their respective religions share common values and purpose, then perhaps their differences would seem diminished and everyone would feel more inclusive.

--M. Jones, Courtice, ON

Re: God would be an atheist: Why can't we all be Japanese?, (column published by HNN, Nov. 30, 2005).


While I wouldn't begin to doubt the validity of the mentioned statistics, I'm surprised that such a wide-reaching conclusion could be reached without mention or consideration of the many other factors that influence human behavior to begin to explain why Oriental cultures are less violent than Occidental cultures.

Too big a leap here from cause to effect, (in my own humble opinion).

I do like the idea that "god would be an atheist" tho'!

--Bob Andrews, Oregon


Very weak article. He equates religion and Christianity. Religion is a generic term. Unless the author can show that Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc., etc. also have the same effects on a nation's morality then his article has no validity.

--Neal Camp, Tempe, Ariz.


RE: There Is No God, (story in "Media Roundup", HNN, Nov. 30, 2005).

The comment made by Penn Jillette, that " can't prove a negative" is not really true, however popular it may be to make such statements. I do it everyday and I assign such problems to my freshmen mathematics students daily. For example, today we proved that there was no solution to a particular system of equations.

Such things are easily done in philosophy and science also. It is easily proved that a supreme being of the Old Testament type cannot be made of jello, for example, but one needs a theory of jello -- which we have in the theory of colloids from chemistry.

That is to say, given a definite theory, proofs of the non-existence of things are often easy. What one cannot do is disprove concepts and ideas that are not well defined (as we say in mathematics). In my experience the problem is usually that the idea of God requiring investigation is too vague to understand.

--Robert Riehemann, Bellevue, Ky.


Re: Film Review: Pride & Prejudice, (HNN, Nov. 16, 2005).

I doubt that Ms Braunius has ever read Pride & Prejudice. If she had she might have commented on -and even objected to- the sexed-up ending in the American release that Jane Austen never wrote. In the words of the NYTimes critic, it was "a swoony moonlit scene of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in dishabille, kissing and cooing in a post-coital clinch." Other comments she quotes include "the boudoir scene has nothing at all of Jane Austen in it" and "insults the audience with its banality".

--Earle Mullen, Niskayuna, NY

Editor's Note: I believe Samuel Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain would say that all of Jane Austen's writing "insults the audience with its banality." (click here for quotations.)Personally, I've always enjoyed her novel Emma and the recent film Clueless that it inspired.]

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