Academy Contributors

The following are those who have graciously contributed their works to the Society’s archive of educational and inspirational materials in the SNS Academy. We are thankful for their participation! They include prominent professors, authors, artists, musicians, and more. If you know of another person whose works would be a good addition to the SNS Academy materials, please let us know.


Stephen Batchelor is a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. He is the author of Buddhism without Beliefs, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, and several other books. Stephen considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas. He is a contributing editor of Tricycle magazine, a guiding teacher at Gaia House Retreat Centre, and cofounder of Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Inquiry in Devon, England. He and his wife, Martine, live in southwest France and Stephen lectures and conducts meditation retreats worldwide. You can read more about Stephen Batchelor here.


Susan Blackmore is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She has a degree in psychology and physiology from Oxford University (1973) an MSc and a PhD in parapsychology from the University of Surrey (1980). Her research interests include memes, evolutionary theory, consciousness, and meditation. Sue writes for several magazines and newspapers, blogs for the Guardian newspaper and Psychology Today, and is a frequent contributor and presenter on radio and television. She is author of over sixty academic articles, about eighty book contributions, and many book reviews. Her books include The Meme Machine (1999), Conversations on Consciousness (2005), Zen and the Art of Consciousness (2011) and Consciousness: An Introduction (a textbook, new editions 2010 and 2011). Her work has been translated into more than 20 other languages. She practices Zen, campaigns for drug legalization and plays in her village samba band, Crooked Tempo.


Arthur G. Broadhurst has a B.A. degree from the University of Richmond and a B.D. and M. Min. degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and a background in philosophy of religion and literature of the ancient world. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, he has served as Chaplain and Chairman of the Religion department at a college prep school in New Hampshire and minister of several churches associated with the Unitarian Universalist Association in Vermont, Connecticut and Florida. In later years he was active in business, retiring as President and Chief Executive Officer of School, College and University Underwriters, Ltd., a reinsurance company based in Bermuda. He runs the website The Christian Humanist and is the author of numerous publications including The Possibility of Christian Humanism, A Humanist Notebook and Stories, Folk Tales and Legends from the Bible. He lives with his wife Sue Hamilton Broadhurst in Florida.


Donald A. Crosby is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Colorado State University, where he taught for thirty-six years after a three-year position as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Centre College of Kentucky. He is the author of ten books and co-editor of three. He has also written many academic articles, book chapters, and book reviews. His main areas of interest are philosophy of nature, American pragmatism, process philosophy, and philosophy of religion.


Julia Cumes is a photographer based on Cape Cod, MA. She specializes in photojournalism, environmental portraiture, travel and editorial photography as well as fine art photography. Julia was born in South Africa and moved to the United States as a 15-year-old. She first fell in love with photography as a teenager in South Africa when she began shooting black and white film and printing her own work. Since then she has completed a BA at Brandeis University, an MFA in writing at Cornell University, a Masters in Photojournalism at Syracuse University, and has been working as a photographer ever since. Julia photographs for a variety of newspapers, magazines and organizations including the New York Times, London Times, and National Geographic. She has spent time teaching photography to children in Rwanda, and travels the world working on various projects. To see more of the work of Julia Cumes, visit her webite, blog, or Facebook page: | Apertures & Anecdotes |


Sharmon Davidson is a visual artist. Her artwork has been shown professionally throughout the eastern United States, receiving awards in both regional and national juried exhibitions since 1994. Solo show venues include the Frable Gallery at ArtSpace in Richmond, Virginia, and the Miami Valley Cooperative Gallery’s space at the Dayton Convention Center. Several pieces of her art toured the country for two years in the national traveling group exhibit A Patchwork of Women’s Art. Her work has been published on magazine covers, appeared in Art Calendar (Professional Artist) magazine, and has been selected for inclusion in Art Buzz: The 2009 Collection, a premier showcase of top quality, contemporary visual art from around the world. Sharmon earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Drawing and Art Education from Northern Kentucky University while raising her children. She furthered her education at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and has taught in Kentucky public schools. She is currently represented by the Promenade Gallery in Berea, Kentucky, and is a member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen. You can learn more about her and her work at As a Society volunteer, Sharmon contributes artwork to our arts materials in the member archives and other areas.


Michel & Pamela Daw are modern Stoics, reviving the ancient philosophical and spiritual path. They have been jointly hosting monthly Stoic Workshops in the National Capital Region and have spoken at festivals and conferences on Stoic Spirituality. Together, they also manage, a Stoic website and resource center, as well as Words of the Ancient Wise, a daily Stoic blog. Pamela runs a blog, Musings of a Stoic Woman, and she and her husband discuss and teach Stoicism to others through social media, online materials, and from their home in Ottawa, Canada. As Society volunteers, Pamela and Michel contribute Stoic materials and offer workshops to our members.



Billy Dechand has played in many bands in New York, North Carolina, and Saint Louis. A singer-songwriter himself, his original material reflects a unique — slightly wacky but heartfelt– musical voice, both compositionally and vocally. Since earning his degree in Music Composition from Bard College, Billy has released several CDs receiving international airplay, the most recent being the soundtrack to his musical comedy, “In Dog’s Country“. You can learn more at


Michael Dowd is a religious naturalist, evidential mystic, and big history evangelist. He is the author of the bestselling book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World (Viking/Plume), which was endorsed by 6 Nobel laureates and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics and atheists, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael and his wife, Connie Barlow, a science writer, have devoted their lives to sharing the inspiring side of science in ways that offer practical tools for living and realistic hope for the future. Since April 2002 they have traveled North America and have addressed more than 1,600 religious and secular groups. Michael and Connie’s work has been featured in numerous national and local print, radio, and TV media, including The NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, CNN, ABC News, Fox & Friends, etc. He also recently delivered a TEDx talk.


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. He has lived in New Orleans since 1999. He is co-creator of ROX, the first TV show on the internet, a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana, past president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, sometime contributor to Rising Tide, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle. He also works as a faculty developer and a media artist. Website:


Robert D. Finch was educated at Imperial College, University of London, where he studied Physics and obtained his PhD. Dr. Finch and his wife, Sheila, immigrated to the United States shortly after, where Dr. Finch had a postdoctoral fellowship in the Physics Department of UCLA. He served on the faculty, and as Chairman, of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, from which he retired in 1998. Author of the textbook “Introduction to Acoustics”, Dr. Finch received the Biennial Award of the Acoustical Society of America, and was made a Fellow of that Society. He has some 40 publications in Acoustics in refereed journals and a like number of presentations at research conferences. He is former President of the Humanists of Houston, and has published 20 papers on Humanism. He was elected Vice-Chairman of the Chapter Assembly of the American Humanist Association, and served two terms on the AHA Board. He has served on the editorial staff of the journal Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism since its inception. He also organizes and chair various local discussion groups on the topics of Humanism and ethics. As a Society volunteer, Dr. Finch is a Contributing Researcher, offering papers on Humanism and ethics to our member archives.


Annika Garratt is an artist, photographer, and writer; born and living in the United Kingdom. Annika studied National Diploma Fine Art at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, giving her the advantage of exploring a diversity of media and techniques such as sculpture, textiles, photography, and painting. Annika then went on to a BA in Illustration, attracted in particular to the Fairytale & Folklore project offered by Southampton Solent. The Illustration course taught her how to speak in symbols and tell stories through images. Annika loves studying the layers of symbolism in fairytales, folklore and mythology. Her work has appeared in festivals, exhibitions, magazines, book covers, and many other projects. Annika maintains a blog and website of her work at As a Society volunteer, Annika contributes artwork, poetry, and videos to our arts materials in the member archives and other areas.


John H. Halstead is a former Mormon, now eclectic Neopagan with an interest in ritual as an art form, ecopsychology, theopoetics, Jungian theory, and the idea of death as an act of creation.  He authors the blogs The Allergic Pagan and Dreaming the Myth Forward, and is Managing Editor of


Edmund Harriss is a University or Arkansas mathematics professor and artist, fascinated by patterns, both theoretical and visual and their communication. His research interests include aperiodic tilings and discrete geometry, links between the combinatorics and geometry of substitution rules and their number theoretic properties, ergodic optimisation, and using images to build intuition and understanding of mathematics and to communicate its beauty. You can keep up with the mathematical and artistic work of Professor Harriss on his website where you will find access to his blog called Maxwell’s Demon. The major themes of this blog revolve around mathematics communication and mathematics art.


Marian Hillar, philosopher, theologian, scientist, and linguist, is the author or coauthor of several books and papers on the history of philosophy, theology, ethics, and science. His specialties are the origin and evolution of Christian theology, Michael Servetus, and Radical Reformation (Socinianism), on which he is a leading expert. Listed in the “Who’s Who In Theology and Science”, Dr. Hillar has lectured on theology and science at Atlanta Bible College. He has M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University Medical School of Gdańsk. He also did research and taught there, and at Università degli studi di Camerino, Baylor College of Medicine, and Ponce School of Medicine. He is currently a professor of philosophy and religious studies, director of the Center for Philosophy and Socinian Studies, and professor of biochemistry/molecular biology at Texas Southern University. He is founder and editor-in-chief of Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, a publication of the American Humanist Association. As a Society volunteer, Dr. Hillar is a Contributing Researcher, offering papers on Religion and Humanism to our member archives.


Tom Lowe is an award winning photographer and former Artist in Residence for the National Park Service at Mojave National Preserve. His residency theme entitled “Mojave Moonlight” has won numerous awards and accolades from several online magazines and gallery curators. His “Blazing Bristlecone” photo won him Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2010. He has been featured in Photography Masterclass Magazine, F-Stop Magazine and a finalist in several photographic competitions. He worked with fellow Archive Contributer, Nigel Stanford on the movie Timescapes which features Tom’s photographic skills. He has traveled across six continents and been in 16 countries in his capacity as a commercial producer, taking advantage of his photographic opportunities as an artist wherever and whenever he can. He loves an adventure as long as he can take his camera. His website:


Rhonda V. Magee, J.D., M.A. (Sociology), is Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and a Visiting Scholar at the Berkeley Center for the Study of Law and Society. She is author of, The Way of ColorInsight: Understanding Race in Our Lives Through Mindfulness-Based ColorInsight.




Ted Meissner has been a meditator since the early 90’s, with training in both the Zen and Theravada traditions as well as more contemporary teaching methods. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, and host of the SBA’s official podcast, The Secular Buddhist. Ted’s background in skepticism, science, and critical thinking informs his examination of the evolution of contemplative practice in modern culture, and he is a regular panelist on interfaith discussions regarding the complex issues facing our global society.


B.T. Newberg is an author, editor, teacher, and husband. Since 2000, he has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective. Upon leaving the Lutheranism of his raising, he experimented with Agnosticism, Buddhism, Contemporary Paganism, and Humanism. He now blends all these experiences into his life as a Spiritual Naturalist.  After founding the community blog HumanisticPaganism, he currently writes the column Naturalistic Traditions at Patheos and contributes writing and course design to the Spiritual Naturalist Society.  Professionally, he holds a master’s degree in education and teaches English as a Second Language.  Having lived in England, Malaysia, Japan, and Korea, B. T. Newberg currently resides in the place of his birth, Minnesota, with his wife and cat. As Education Director of the SNS, he is responsible for the Society’s educational programs, such as course design and collection of supporting materials in both the archives and courses. This also includes helping to select and manage mentors.


Lawrence Rifkin is a writer and a physician. He is the Grand Prize Winner of the Doctors’ Writing Contest sponsored by Medical Economics. His essays address science, naturalism, meaning, joy, and wonder. Links to his publications can be found at



Donald Robertson is a psychotherapist, specialising in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and the treatment of anxiety. His background is in academic philosophy and he has a special interest in the relationship between ancient philosophy, especially Stoicism, and modern psychotherapy. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and several books on philosophy and psychotherapy. These include: Build your Resilience (2012), The Practice of Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy (2012), The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (2010), and The Discovery of Hypnosis: The Complete Writings of James Braid, The Father of Hypnotherapy (2009). Donald’s Website can be seen at


Tim Roos is a special education teacher, poet, photographer, and wildlife enthusiast from Port Angeles, WA on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula. From this location he drives, bikes, runs, hikes, and boats in and around the Olympic National Park, photographing the natural beauty from the highest peaks of the Olympic Mountains to the smallest seabirds miles out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the Pacific Ocean. Some of his work is diplayed in the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center. He can be reached by email:


Thomas Schenk has “no credentials besides having lived for 50-plus years”. He calls himself a space-age Taoist, Black Sheep Catholic, Perennial Philosophy Pantheist, Dharma Bum, which suggests he is not inclined to commitment. Tom maintains a largely unread blog called the Golden Hive of the Invisible, which can be found at


Nigel Stanford is one of the well-known Ambient and New Age composers from New Zealand. His debut album on White Cloud Records, called Deep Space, is characterized by total fusion of Trance and Ambient music. All tracks have been re-recorded and re-released and included on the 2014 double album “Solar Echoes”. He also composed the soundtrack for the movie Timescapes which also features the work of Astronomy Photographer Tom Lowe. And with Director Shahir Daud, Nigel created a video called Cymatics which has to do with the science of visualizing audio frequencies. The Behind the Scenes page on Nigel’s website has some interesting information about the science and creativity that went into the project.


John Vervaeke is an award-winning instructor at the University of Toronto. He is an engaging speaker and available for lectures and media appearances. He is knowledgeable about a wide range of topics including wisdom, mindfulness meditation, psychology, cognitive science, foolishness, artificial intelligence, general intelligence, rationality, popular media, and Buddhism & its interaction with Western society and psychology. His website is


Carol Wayne White is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Bucknell University. Her areas of specialization include Poststructuralist and Feminist Philosophies, Process Theology and Philosophy, and Religious Naturalism. Her publications include numerous articles and two books: Poststructuralism, Feminism, and Religion: Triangulating Positions and The Legacy of Anne Conway (1631-70): Reverberations from a Mystical Naturalism. Professor White is currently completing a book that explores the concept of divinity within the frameworks of postmodern science and religious naturalism. She has received national awards and fellowships, including a John Templeton Award in Religion and Science, a NEH Fellowship, and a research appointment at the Women Studies Research Center associated with the Five College Consortium. As a Society volunteer, Carol is a Contributing Researcher, offering papers on Religious Naturalism to our member archives.


Marije van Wieringen is a Dutch artist and Stoic philosopher. Her work consists of oil paintings, drawings, and ‘see-through’ drawings in marker on acrylic glass – all influenced by her life-philosophy. The philosophy of Stoicism is based on the idea that the human animal is part of the greater whole of Nature / the Universe. All other Stoic ideas and rules for living are based on this principle. Marije’s art is a reflection of this. Her work falls mainly into two categories: examples of the contemplation of and reverence for Nature, and depictions of the human struggle to find happiness through being good – in this last case, images of nature are often used as well, this time as a metaphor. An example is her series of paintings about moral development, in which human bodies are interwoven with star maps, illustrating that we are part of the universe.  Reverence for Nature can be found in the painstakingly detailed depiction of trees in works like ‘Ode to a beech tree’ and the transparent work ‘Twisted trunk’, but also in the many works that have a life-cycle or (sometimes hidden) ‘memento mori’ theme: Stoics aim to accept their mortality as part of the natural order of things, and actively prepare for death. In short, Marije van Wieringen’s art is about nature around us and nature inside us. More of her work can be seen at


Other writers, musicians, poets, and artists whose work appears in our archives, include contemporary and classical figures, both well known and independent:
Darren Bell
John Boswell
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Michelle LeBlanc
Richard Seymour
Daniel Strain
Vincent van Gogh
John B. Wilson