April 1, 1931 ~ December 20, 2021
One of the most influential members of Humanists of Utah died on December 20. His wife Corrine reported that he went peacefully. There is so much to say about Earl but perhaps the most revealing is from Board Member Lisa Miller, “thinking about this news that feels like a punch, what continues to pop into my head is that particular twinkle in his eye. And his chuckle—I can hear his chuckle. What a legend of a life well lived. And I truly miss him.”
Earl joined HoU in 1993 after retiring from IBM’s legal department. He quickly became involved by writing “Member Spotlight” articles for the this newsletter. Worked to get a new podium for our meetings, served on Darwin Day committees for several years.
He often wrote poetry pieces to read at our annual meetings. Here is one from 2008 entitled, Ho, Ho, Ho
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and drink some hot cocoa,
And snuggle up before the fire and watch the glistening snow.
Our wreaths are hung, our lights are lit, our houses are aglow,
And children all are listening to hear that ho, ho, ho.
Parties go on all around. Libations freely flow,
Midst food, and friends, and kin, and fun beneath the mistletoe.
Norman Rockwell’s captured just such scenes as these, although
He’s also painted poorer folk who aren’t in this tableau.
We are among the fortunate whose breaks in life we know.
We have no cause, however, for braggadocio.
No man is an island, as John Donne wrote long ago.
We’re lucky to be where we are, and a heavy debt we owe.
By sheer good luck we’re Americans and living now, you know,
In this land of liberty where happiness can grow.
For this we thank our founding fathers for reading Diderot,
And Locke and Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
We thank the brave explorers like John Glenn and Marco Polo,
Who opened up the heavens above and the world here below.
And we thank all those before us who heeded “Westward-Ho,”
And settled here in Utah instead of Idaho.
We thank the great historians who’ve informed us apropos
Of Greece and Rome and Persia, too, in ages long ago,
And all the great scientists like Newton and Galileo,
Who’ve explained the world to us. To them we say “Bravo.”
Orators and statesmen like the great Greek Cicero,
And Greek philosophers like Socrates and Plato,
Painters and sculptors like the Italian Donatello,
Composers and singers like the sublime Caruso,
Playwrights and authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Essayists and poets like Edgar Allan Poe,
Our public schools and patient teachers, both which need more dough,
Our servicemen who keep us safe to freely come and go,
Doctors and, dare I say it, the lawyer Clarence Darrow,
And even sports heroes like Babe Ruth and DiMaggio,
And let’s not forget our chapter, where ignorance we outgrow
And which was nurtured from the start by a man you know as Flo,
All these and more enrich our lives; to them a debt we owe
That we cannot begin to pay the interest on, and so,
Because we all live better than old kings in a chateau,
We owe it to the future to make this world a place of show,
A world in which the struggling Jane and ordinary Joe
Can live a life surpassing ours, the best we can bestow.
There is no need tonight to be like Woody Allen, though,
Who can’t be happy if anyone has misery and woe.
So, as we party here tonight and bask in winter’s glow,
I’ll wish you all the very best and a hearty “Ho, ho, ho.”
Earl spent many years writing a book, and indeed rewrote it several times. An Imperfect Book is a scholarly review of the Book of Mormon that comes to the conclusion that not only could of Joseph Smith written LDS standard work but that he almost certainly did and wrote it without any Golden Plates given to him by an Angel of God. The book was published in 2014
Our website has a number of “Personal Journeys to Humanism” pieces. Here is the conclusion of Earl’s Journey:
Humanism is the rational, ethical, positive philosophy that I discovered little by little. My faith is that, unless we destroy ourselves first, it will prevail in the future because it is rational, science-based, and open-minded. My faith may be misplaced, given the slow pace at which rationality progresses among humankind. But reason ultimately seems to prevail. Virtually everyone now accepts that the earth is round and revolves around the sun. Although many still do not accept biblical higher criticism or the theory of evolution, in time they may make today’s religious superstitions seem as untenable as the Gods on Mt. Olympus. Meanwhile, the American Humanist Association and Humanists of Utah serve important purposes. They would have helped me earlier in my life and I believe may help many others who just have to learn of them. And as human beings gradually let go of mythology, the humanist philosophy the AHA and Humanists of Utah espouse will be there to catch them.
Happy New Year Friends!
Welcome to 2022. With the start of a new year and the ending of the previous one, it is a time of reflection, soul searching and strategizing on goals and dreams. In reflection of 2021, our group has been adapting to the times of COVID. During the summer, we had our annual BBQ, which ended up being our only in person event this year. It was wonderful seeing many of you in person, meeting new friends and enjoying a beautiful day at Sugarhouse Park. With the current surge, we shifted gears again back to online with our Website HumanLight celebration and on our Facebook page. Our humanitarian efforts started this fall with providing fun gift bags for the children at Shriners Hospital’s Halloween Costume Parade. We also, provided gift cards for displaced and struggling people in the community to buy necessities. Currently we are putting plans together to do many more activities, humanitarian efforts and offer online education to you all.
It is imperative to keep hope alive during this very LONG pandemic and for our resilience to shine through. Many are struggling, both publicly and privately. It is crucial for us to remain kind, plug in to our ethical and strong value systems and to continue to live with reason and strong ethics.
I wish you the very best for this upcoming year. I send you all my friendship, my kindest regards, and my dedication to work to the best of my ability. I am very proud of this organization and of all of you for helping make the world a better place—one person, one deed, one thought at a time.
President , HoU
New Year, No You
It seems that breaking New Year’s Resolutions is as much of a tradition as making them. That’s the joke, right? In January we commit to gym memberships and new diets and healthier approaches to relationships. And by February, we have reverted back to our regular habits, the main difference being whatever we paid for our newfound and quickly abandoned hobbies or memberships.
Even if our follow through on ritual resolutions leaves much to be desired, we do gain one powerful benefit from the New Year’s habit: Introspection. Whether we follow through on our resolutions or not, most of us genuinely do take time to reflect on what we would like to be different or better in our lives.
The great secret (that we all know intuitively) is that we can benefit from the New Year Resolution ritual any time. I recommend that we embrace the framing of Discern, Motivate, Empower. Instead of making goals and then feeling guilty, we can tap into the organic process of growth. We can release resistance and focus instead on redirection, channeling what is toward what we want.
Discern: This is what we already do around the New Year. Instead of focusing on what other people tell you what you should do, take time to figure out what you value and what you want. Don’t make goals. Figure out what your goals actually are.
Motivate: Once we figure out what we genuinely want and value, we can tap into sources of motivation that are also organic and natural. In general, we are as productive as our contexts, so I find it helpful to change my context in ways that incentivize behavior aligning with my goals. For example, I have been interested in martial arts most of my life, so signing up for a six-month commitment to jujitsu and kickboxing helps me follow through. To use a simpler example, I’m going to move my dresser into my boys’ room, which will create discomfort that motivates me to organize my own space. Finding the natural consequences and pressure is much more effective than setting goals we think we should have.
Empower. Once we connect to our genuine goals and plug into our motivation, we can ask ourselves what resources and support we need to follow through. We can also look at what resources we already have that trigger a virtuous cycle to better living. For example, I’m interested in fitness, so I spent $30 on a calisthenics app that doesn’t need much equipment.
The playful title of this column comes from the Buddhist concept of anatman, or “not self.” I confess that when I taught World Religions at Westminster College, I didn’t understand Buddhism very well. Life is suffering and there is no self? Well, that’s not very life affirming, I thought. My hypothesis was that this depressing worldview was a coping mechanism to survive in miserable circumstances.
It wasn’t until my own Buddhist training years later that I realized how brilliant Buddhism is, including the concept of “not self.” It isn’t that there is no you so much as that there is no you in particular. The concept of self can be as limiting as the concept of New Year’s resolutions. Just as New Year’s culture implies that that is the best or even only time to make dramatic improvements in our lives, the stories we tell about who we are also limit us. “I couldn’t do that”, we tell ourselves. “I’m not good at that.” With our words we cast spells that constrain us.
I use the word spell intentionally, because the way that we think genuinely does impact our physical reality, especially when it comes to our bodies. Our bodies our very loyal, turns out, and the way that we think is literally a matter of life and death. Our mindset and thought habits not only influence what we do without bodies, but also strongly impacts how our bodies metabolize stress and other stimuli.
My recommended resolution is to release the pressure of the idea of the new year or new you. The truth is that every day is new. Every moment is new. Every moment is an opportunity to live in a different, better way. We can respond to each moment as an invitation, and with those choices, create habits that shape our current and future selves.
And however, any given day goes, we always have another chance and another self tomorrow.
—Chaplain Jared Anderson
New Year Orison
Protons, electrons, neutrons, and tachyons, with other elements and heavy metals necessary for the cornucopia of life, made the trillions of cells that allowed us to be the best creative, rational, positive, ethical, and diverse people possible.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year Fellow Humanists and Freethinkers, I hope that your holiday season has been a pleasant one. Mine has been one of near total gluttony. I’m talking chocolate here: One gift from friends included: assorted chocolates, chocolate truffles, a giant brownie and chocolate covered graham crackers, a package of chocolate bark with popcorn and nuts, a box of chocolate cherries, chocolate pretzels, chocolate malted milk balls, a couple of chocolate bars, and two bags of moose munch!. I’m still working on it. Someone must eat it. Add to that, the fact that each year we give away my home baked cookies and we also have been baking pumpkin cranberry bread and banana nut bread. And of course, I must test it all to make sure it’s fit to give away.
Growing up here in Salt Lake City, my family cooked the same common traditional holiday meals, turkey with stuffing and a number of other delectable entrees and desserts for Thanksgiving. Ham on Christmas and leftovers of both for New Year’s Day. But in recent years we’ve changed things up a bit like a Halibut bake, and a prime rib roast. It makes for an enjoyable change. ‘Tis the season for feasting and I’ve been enjoying it.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it is a good time to reflect on the past year and think about changes one may want to make. I don’t have the energy these days to do much volunteer work so one of the things I’m doing is to donate more money to the causes I feel like supporting. That, for me means giving more to organizations concerned with climate change and there are a lot of them all over the planet in need of funds. I also plan to give more in the political world, to candidates who will fight to save democracy from those who would trade it for dictatorship. I don’t want to say much right now about politics. I’ll be saving that for the coming months as we near the election.
I want to express my sadness when on the passing of Earl Wunderli. Earl was a longtime member of Humanists of Utah and a board member for several years where his financial investing acumen took a generous endowment to the chapter that is now worth more than the original investment even though we have spent thousands of dollars on things like Darwin Day, annual summer picnics, and Solstice banquets. We have also dipped into the funds to give to disaster related events.
I enjoyed his friendship for years as a fellow member of our poker club. We played nickel ante poker where you felt like a big winner if you ended the night three or four dollars ahead of everyone else. He will be sorely missed.
With the winter solstice behind us and the days now getting longer, I’m already looking forward to spring, even though it’s still a few months away. Again, Happy New year and I hope we can meet in person again soon.