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Can we derive a secular spirituality from the seasons?

  • When: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 2:30 pm
  • Where: Jefferson Parish Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, LA view map

As we look forward to the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring), Bart Everson will engage in a community discussion on the question, “Can we derive a secular spirituality from the seasons?” Everson’s book, "Spinning in Place", outlines a this-worldly approach to spirituality for the scientifically-minded. “As a longtime atheist, I’m skeptical of many expressions of religiosity,” Everson writes. “But over the years I’ve learned to see much of value in religion as well. To be fully human, we must be open to the full range of human experience. I wrote this book to show one way that humanists, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and skeptics might celebrate what it means to be alive here on this planet. Further, by placing a focus on the natural world, we can learn to be better citizens of the Earth.”

Everson is known in the New Orleans area for his role in kickstarting the Lafitte Greenway, a 2.5 mile rail-trail which connects neighborhoods in the heart of the city. His first full-length book, "Spinning in Place" focuses on a series of seasonal celebrations which include the solstices, the equinoxes, and the lesser-known “cross-quarter days.” Taken together, they form eight holidays spaced evenly throughout the year and have served as a principle focus of Neo-Pagan spiritual practice.

It’s “a clear and thought-provoking guide to the festival year” according to James Nichol, author of "Contemplative Druidry: People, Practice and Potential", who calls the book “highly recommended.”

Bart Everson is a writer, an artist, an activist, a teacher, a baker of bread, a husband and a father. His formative years were in Indiana and northern Sweden, and he has lived in New Orleans since 1999. He writes a column for Mid-City Messenger and Humanistic Paganism. More information is available at


Inherit The Wind -- Classic Movies at The Prytania

  • When: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 10:00 am
  • Where: The Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania Ave., New Orleans, LA view map

• What we'll do
Haven't ever seen this classic? Now you can!

The Evolution vs. Creationism argument is at the center of the Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee Broadway play Inherit the Wind. Lawrence and Lee's inspiration was the 1925 "Monkey Trial," in which Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in violation of state law. Scopes deliberately courted arrest to challenge what he and his supporters saw as an unjust law, and the trial became a national cause when The Baltimore Sun, represented by the famed (and atheistic) journalist H. L. Mencken, hired attorney Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes. The prosecuting attorney was crusading politician William Jennings Bryan, once a serious contender for the Presidency, now a relic of a past era.

While Bryan won the case as expected, he and his fundamentalist backers were held up to public ridicule by the cagey Darrow. In both the play and film versions of Inherit the Wind, the names and places are changed, but the basic chronology was retained, along with most of the original court transcripts. John Scopes becomes Bertram Cates (Dick York); Clarence Darrow is Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy); William Jennings Bryan is Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March); and H. L. Mencken is E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly). Dayton, Tennessee is transformed into Hillsboro -- or, as the relentlessly cynical Hornbeck characterizes it, "Heavenly Hillsboro."

128 minutes -- Drama

You can read more here:


Volunteering with Second Harvest Foodbank - March

  • When: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 11:30 am
  • Where: Second Harvest Food Bank, 700 Edwards Avenue, New Orleans, LA view map

It’s time to volunteer again!

One of our most popular and well-attended activities as a group has been working with the Second Harvest organization where we sort and box donated food for families in need in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes.

We are thankful for the efforts of NOSHA board member Glenn Pearl who has been our contact person, setting up our volunteer shifts and keeping us involved.

√ The warehouse is not climate controlled so please dress accordingly. Jeans, shorts and t-shirts are acceptable. It should be cooler, so come prepared.

√ Outside work is un-shaded, we have sunscreen available, but it is recommended to bring sunglasses, hats and any other necessary sun protection.

√ YOU MUST WEAR CLOSED TOE SHOES! Anyone wearing flip-flops or sandals will not be permitted to work the shift.

√ Cold water bottles are available for all volunteers.

√ Minimum age to volunteer at Second Harvest is 9 years old.


Chalmette Cemetery Volunteer Opportunity

  • When: Thursday, March 29, 2018 @ 9:00 am
  • Where: Chalmette Battlefield & National Cemetery, 8606 West Saint Bernard Highway, Chalmette, LA view map

• What we'll do
Chalmette National Cemetery Volunteer Month is March 17-30, so some NOSHA friends are signing up to help out!

Volunteers will learn how to properly document, realign, and clean headstones through hands-on work, while gaining a deeper understanding of Chalmette National Cemetery through a brief interpretative program.

Everyone must officially register to volunteer here:


Last Supper Dinner Club - April

  • When: Monday, April 09, 2018 @ 6:30 pm
  • Where: Zea Rotisserie & Grill, 4450 Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Metairie, LA view map

Join us in April as we return to old favorite Zea's on Veterans! They offer a menu for everyone and friendly service to boot. They seem to have the "group thing" down to a science. Ribs? Yep. Hummus? Yep. Grilled fish? Sure. Salads that are actually tasty? Yep. Four kinds of rotisserie chicken? Uh-huh. If you don't like the menu, they'll happily make something up for you, but we bet you can find something. • Important to know
Please keep us up to date on your ability to make the dinner by using the RSVP function as soon as your plans change. It's very helpful for us to know how many folks are joining us, not just for the restaurant seating, but for the folks on the waiting list. We check the RSVPs right up until the last minute, and it's never too late to exercise good manners and let us know if you're not joining us, so we can get on with the eating! (Nothing sadder than a group of hungry folks at a table, trying to figure out if they should wait for someone who isn't coming...)


Elimination Through Enlightenment: Pinker Analysis of Capital Punishment


The trend in mass shootings  has been to find the body of the perpetrator among or nearby the dead and dying, prone on  the killing floor with his victims— either from his own hand or “neutralized” by the rescuers. (I use the masculine pronoun since these atrocities are always carried out by men.) We are then left with the multiple crises of grieving, the unending questions of causes and answers, and attempts to ferret out some sense of closure as we go about burying the dead. That is the trend, but occasionally the murderer escapes the scene alive, and is either captured in flight, or is subdued on the site. Once in custody, we are faced with another crisis, that of the choice involving continuing or ending the life of the accused: should this person live or die? The state, as a representative of the people forming it, has the legal monopoly to carry out killing, mandated through law. Should it? As it turns out in the case of Nikolas Cruz, the troubled teenager who shot dead seventeen in a high school building, this crisis of choice rests primarily with the jurisdiction’s district attorney or other designated prosecutor. Cruz’ defense attorney has already made the offer to agree to the defendant’s plea of guilt if the death penalty is excluded from the sentence. Almost two weeks has passed since this proposal was floated, but to date, no response has been forthcoming from the prosecutor. It is a “crisis” of choice inasmuch that if the prosecutor proceeds to send the case to trial seeking the death penalty, there is a good chance that, barring any legal snafus or abuses, Cruz will be found guilty. The defense of Cruz would boil down to his unfortunate circumstance of an unstable family life involving adoption, the loss of both adoptive parents, the move to a third family, and the failure of the state to recognize him as potentially sociopathic, and then failing to follow up with him—even with fair warnings from police records and personal testimonies. Neither of these, alone or together, are usually sufficient grounds for meriting a reprieve. The prosecutor in cases that involve the death penalty has a morbidly serious decision that no mere mortal should be confronted with, but usually manages anyway with a clear conscience, assuming a mandate has been proffered from the voting public which, in the United States, approve of the death penalty by over 60%. The United States government law allows for execution only in certain cases of terrorism and treason, but leaves individual states free to make their decisions about it. It is not certain why the U.S. lags behind other developed countries in abolishing this archaic ritual of ultimate vengeance,  it could be a hangover from mythical (read: religious) concepts of retributive and redemptive violence, wherein one is somehow “repaid” or redeemed through acts of violence; but allowing individual states their own option on moral issues involving matters of life and death is not a good idea. Even so, the practice is on the decline according to Steven Pinker in his newly released book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Viking, 2018). Seven states have banned capital punishment in the past decade, bringing the total to 19. Of the 31 states where it is still legal, 16 have moratoria against it. Some states have not used it in over five years. Pinker describes this retreat as a breakdown of the machinery “of the intricate apparatus of death and the team of mechanics to run and repair it,” and further, “As the machine wears out and the mechanics refuse to maintain it, it becomes increasingly unwieldy and invites being scrapped.” That cycle began with the “historical expansion of sympathy and reason,” to the point that even the strongest supporters of the death penalty “lost their stomach” for the brutality of it. Factors playing a role in the growing revulsion are forensic DNA and fingerprinting methods showing that the wrong person is sometimes executed; the relative “dignity” and humanity associated with even its “cleanest” iteration, lethal injection—although a long way from the “gory sadism of crucifixion and disembowelment”—is still fraught with unreliability and pain; and the increasing dependability of penitentiary design and operation making them escape- and riot-proof have made life terms of incarceration within them the more desirable option.

“The pathways [to abolition of the death penalty] are manifold and tortuous,” writes Pinker, “the effects are slow and then sudden, but in the fullness of time an idea from the Enlightenment can transform the world.” And why not? Many ideas from that age have transformed the world, literally . But  for the present, unfortunately, Mr. Cruz’ fate rests on the grim choice the district attorney makes with his state-invested authority to avenge death with death. And we know what that means.

The Humanist Advocate

Marty Bankson