What I Did in My Summer Vacation

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After 25 years of teaching I will admit that having a different routine in the summer is important to me. It’s not that I spend most of the summer doing nothing – a persistent myth that bothers hard-working teachers. While some may put their feet up and recover from an academic year of under-appreciated demanding work, many teachers create curriculum or develop professionally. For me, my time away from BES this summer was full of growth opportunities I hope will contribute to my work as Leader of BES.

The most professionally significant of these opportunities was as a faculty member of Lay Leadership Summer School (LLSS). For one thing, I got to spend a week with BES star lay leader, Kate LaClair! I will let her speak for herself, but I believe she found it a challenging, rewarding experience. I know she will bring new ideas and renewed confidence to her work as a BES Lay Leader.

Personally, serving as a LLSS faculty member was deeply meaningful. It was a valuable reminder of both the Ethical Culture values and the broader humanist movement to which I committed myself years ago. It was as a LLSS student back in 2006 that I gazed out over the rolling hills of Carolina and solidified my commitment to professional EC Leadership.

Being in a different environment contributed to philosophical exploration that I intend to build upon in some platforms. I have LLSS students to thank for one potentially intriguing topic after they requested a group discussion on “humanist spirituality.” Revisiting authors touching on this subject – Alain de Botton, Robert Solomon, and Andre Comte-Sponville – I was reminded of the importance of including opportunities for spirituality in my work as an Ethical Culture Leader.

For those whose toes curl when I mention “the ‘s’ word”, I don’t mean any form of “spirituality” that violates reason. I don’t intend to dabble in mysticism or new age silliness. For me, however, some of the experiences that some humanists crave – awe, humility, and connection to something greater – come to them in forms that they may call spiritual.

I also appreciate that the more strictly rationalistic humanists in our movement – those who see the world more like Center for Free Inquiry’s Tom Flynn – don’t want or need such “spirituality.” Rest assured that I share skepticism for much of what is brought under the “spirituality” tent. I will continue to offer plenty of skepticism and science in my work. I will also, however, bring back from LLSS a fresh helping of awe, humility, and connection to something greater. Look for it at an Ethical Society near you!

Hugh Taft-Morales

Hugh Taft-Morales

Leader at the Baltimore Ethical Society
Hugh Taft-Morales joined the Baltimore Ethical Society as its professional leader in 2010, the same year he was certified by the American Ethical Union as an Ethical Culture Leader. He also serves as Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia.
Hugh Taft-Morales

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