March 1991


I really wanted to get this to you by last week, but my computer went on the blink. Only now that I have it back, I realize that I could have just sat down, and written all this in longhand. Now why didn’t I think of that earlier?

That’s the kind of thing that this chapter can do for its members: Make a group that can take a fresh look at what you are concerned with, and say, “Hey, why don’t you just do it this way?” And, “Have you thought about that?” So, the reason why this newsletter is later than planned is because I didn’t ask your advice. More fool me.

Last Time

The ripples from the Gulf spread here, too: Ken Phifer, who was going to speak at the February 12 chapter meeting, got a call a couple of days before. His son was about to be shipped to Saudi Arabia, and the only way they could see one another before the departure was if Ken left early. That is not a circumstance any of us could look sour about.

Besides, the irrepressible Ed Wilson was found willing on short notice to fill Ken’s time slot. He did that with a speech on “Humanism as a Global Movement” which he gave in Budapest last summer. That worked out okay, because most of us weren’t there to hear it the first time.

By the way, a home video of that speech is available; it is not as good as the real thing, but a reasonable facsimile thereof. If you express enough interest, it would also be possible to print the text in this newsletter.

After the speech and a question period, there was an organizational meeting, the minutes of which you will find below.

About the minutes: the chapter doesn’t have a secretary yet. Those present at the meeting agreed to have Anne Zeilstra report on it, even though that might introduce personal bias.

The instructions he received from the national AHA office include a fill-in-the-blanks form for minutes. Unless a more law-abiding secretary is found, this is the first and the last time that you’ll see that form: future minutes may reflect the informal atmosphere, and will relegate the formal jargon to a footnote.

Minutes: February 12, 1991

Minutes of the meeting of the membership of the Humanists of Utah, an unincorporated association in the State of Utah, duly held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the twelfth day of February, 1991 at about 8.30 p.m.

There were present [name of each person present? Forget it: just like everyone else, I was too busy having a good time to make a list of who was there for Ed’s speech, and who left afterward. There were a good many people – AZ], being a quorum of the membership of this association.

Upon motion duly made, seconded and carried out, it was resolved that,

  • The chapter bylaws (printed in the last newsletter and available on request) are acceptable as is.
  • There was one blank in the bylaws (under VI Elections): how many members are needed to nominate someone as an officer? The meeting said: one.
  • Anna Hoagland is confirmed in her post as treasurer, and Greg Hansen in his as external relations focus. Larry Christensen offered to help with organizing future meetings, and Florien Wineriter with organizing the fledgling chapter library; both offers were gratefully accepted. Kent Griffiths will help with mailing list maintenance.
  • The meeting will be a brunch on the third Saturday of March, at a place that has neither religious nor commercial ties. As far as meeting days are concerned, about equal numbers of those present favored a week night, as did the weekend, which only goes to show that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  • What members want from speakers is a whole series of things: their subject should be educational and in the local news, their approach scientific and stimulating. Next to having a speaker, the meetings should also give members an opportunity to get to know each other.
  • A chapter Who’s Who could be another way to get acquainted. But, said the meeting, those who don’t want to be mentioned in there should have their privacy respected.
  • The newsletter has the potential of becoming the analog of a live discussion, a telephone conference, or a computer billboard. Whether it will fulfill that potential depends on how many members actually contribute concise remarks about their interests and ideas.
  • A fund-raiser, even one that peddled recycled paper without excessive member involvement, is not a very popular idea. Members would rather pay up what money was needed than hassle someone else to give it. Looking into financial support from foundations might be a more effective strategy.
  • The First Unitarian Church, our host for the meeting, will be thanked for its hospitality.

There being no further business to come before the meeting, upon motion duly made, seconded and carried, the meeting thereupon adjourned at [about 9.15 p.m. by estimate].

–Anne Zeilstra

Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

~Book Review~

Househubbies. Tree huggers. Peacenicks. Death penalty protesters. Working women. Are these deviations of a decadent society? Should we look back to the good old ways, when men were real men, women were real women, justice was as swift as a whack to the side of the head, and the world view as clean as a picked bone?

No way, argues Riane Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade. It is the violent, male-dominated social orders that deviated, and they are neither good nor old. Long ago and far away, in prehistoric Europe and the Middle East, there were peaceful and balanced cultures where women worked together with men, and not just for them. Artifacts from that time–the little “Venus” statuettes–show the worship of a goddess of creation.

At some point in time, nomadic horsemen who venerated the sword, the power to take away life, descended on these peaceful societies like prehistoric Huns, and took them over. The moral justification of the violent, authoritarian patriarchy followed: the goddesses where transformed to mates and servants of gods, women were pronounced vile vessels of inequity, the source of original sin, and things to be had and traded.

Now that violence and exploitation have brought us to the brink of extinction, it is time to pick up the original threads, and try to recreate a partnership society.

This book can change the way you look at things.

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler; Harper & Row, 1987.

–Millie Johnson