October 2016


The Changing Roll of Religion in Modern Society

George Pyle, editorial writer and columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune was guest speaker at our September monthly meeting. He began the discussion by describing the situation in which the Salt Lake Tribune finds itself, how it arrived here and what are the plans for its future.georgepyle

After the paper changed hands several times, and there was even consideration given to just letting the paper fold, Paul Huntsman stepped forward to try to save the Tribune. Huntsman doesn’t expect to make a lot of money by owning the Salt Lake Tribune. “We need two voices in our city”, he said and somehow a deal was struck. 40% of the print revenue came back. Alden Capitol gave up control.

Currently, Paul Huntsman is the publisher and on the editorial board. e facilitates getting the visiting politicians to speak to the Tribune editorial board.  The staff talk to Mr. Huntsman 2-3 times per week. He wants the paper to be beholden to no one external to itself and stay independent.

Mr. Pyle then described the changing role of religion in modern society. In the last 7 years, the number of people who admit to having no religious affiliation has gone from 12% to over 30% in the 18-34 year old demographic. When Pew researchers asked the 30% if they are looking for an organized religion, 88% said they were not. Having internet at home and less religious observance have curves which match.

One misty night in London, Mr. Pyle went to Westminster Abbey, and ended up in a service. There were about 20 people there. There he was, in one of the most famous Christian churches in the world on Easter and the great cathedral was empty. It’s happening all over Europe. The support and congregations aren’t there anymore. Religion no longer speaks to people today.

Mr. Pyle sees freedom of religion coming to the fore which means people don’t push their religion on others. He expects that the way thought is moving, there is probably going to be a peaceful change to freedom from religion and towards secular thought. He believes that time is on the side of free thought and personal choice.

There will be more to come from him on the subject of religion in modern society when the book he is writing is published.

We are grateful to George Pyle for taking time to share his brilliant mind with us. We anticipate with pleasure his columns and editorials in the Tribune.

—Lauren Florence, MD

Cleveland Quarry Field Trip

The trip by motor coach down a dirt road to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry was as intriguing as it was hot. In a late Jurassic, three-foot layer, of hard sandstone capped with limestone, lie bones so dense and intermingled that local ranchers found them easily while searching for their lost cows.quarry-1

The environs of the quarry near the town of Cleveland, Utah and promulgated by William Lloyd (hence the name Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry) hold many dinosaur digs. The CLDQ is one of the more mysterious. In modern animals and other quarries, 5-10% of the fossils are from predators. Of the bones in CLDQ (six species of carnivores and five herbivorous species) 75% were meat eaters. The paleontologists ask, “Why so many carnivores in this bone bed? Did they hunt in packs? Did they all come attracted to the only water during a drought and get stuck in the mud? Did they prey on infected herbivores and die of the same infection? Did they die upstream and get washed into a spring run-off pool that became the quarry?”

One of the paleontological investigators working in and near the CLDQ rode with us to the quarry and answered our every question. His name is Brian Switek. He notes, in his latest book, My Beloved Brontosaurus, that “The Mesozoic span of the dinosaurs ran for more than 160 million years the world over. The dinosaurian heyday fell across three different geological periods—the Triassic (250 to 200 million years ago), the Jurassic (199 to 145 million years ago), and the Cretaceous (144 to 66 million years ago).” Brian has written for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Nature, Scientific American, among other publications.

Here is Brian in the clutches of an Allosaurus skeleton surrounded by models of modern day theropods, or more in the common vernacular: chickens.

—Lauren Florence, MD

President’s Report

Those of you who joined us for our trip to the Cleveland-Lloyd quarry were treated to a fun and interesting excursion. I won’t go into detail here, as there is a write up elsewhere in the newsletter. But I wanted to say that I think this kind of HoU event is a great idea and should be repeated as often as possible. Along with the educational aspect of the trip and the scenery, you also get a chance to meet and talk with people. And I mean converse rather than just a hello and a hand shake.

Other trips to geologic or geographic excursions could be planned. Perhaps an emphasis on a trip could be to give sort of a basic traveling course in Utah geology. As a University of Utah Geography student, the classes I took that included “Field Seminars” were the most instructive. Going to and studying the actual features you study in the books is most instructive.

We should also consider trips that are just for the fun of it. Wendover now has a really nice concert/theater hall, where Amy and I recently saw a comedian. Perhaps even an overnight trip. Let’s talk about it.

Sometimes it is hard to cover a subject a person writes about in the 500-word article. So I’m going to write about a subject that will need to be continued for a couple of issues.

The issue is race and racism. Or, more specifically, my experiences with people of color in my life. I was born and raised in SLC (Holladay) Utah. Attended Skyline High School where there were no black people at the school and none in my neighborhood. So my contact with black folks was nonexistent. That is until I attended a military school for my junior year in high school. That’s where my first real contact with African Americans occurred. As I recall, even at this California school there was only one black kid. This black student behaved horribly and was gone in a short time. I remember some talk among the students about this kid, mostly negative. But I remember my roommate asking “How would you feel if you were the only white boy at an all-black school?” Makes you think.

When I attended this school in 64-65, I would take the train home for holidays. It was cheap and in that era, while it was a passenger train, it was also known as a mail train, so it stopped everywhere. It was there on the train that at 16, I first shook the hand of a black man.

The train’s restrooms had a lounge area for sitting and smoking. The porters on the train were all black as far as I could tell. While sitting in the lounge area, a couple of porters came in and we shook hands. After a moment, I told the two porters that they were the first black men I had ever met. They were friendly and chuckled at my questions and I believe entertained by my interest.

I think even back then, and probably before I was becoming a rational thinker and started wondering why someone’s skin color mattered, or as I might express it today, “Why would you judge someone or instantly have disdain for a person you don’t even know based on skin color?”

It may seem strange to you that I write about my experiences with black people as events, but it helps show that for many of us we may have had little or no real experiences with other ethnicities and thus have only what we see and hear to make judgements.

My next experience was during four years in the U.S. Air Force. But I will leave that for next month.

In parting I just want to remind you to attend or October meeting where we will present a new video of the life of Thomas Paine. Because this will similar to a movie night, refreshment will be served at the beginning so you can munch while we watch and then discuss the video and Thomas Paine after.

—Robert Lane
President HoU

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