August 2013 Newsletter

The Spiritual Naturalist SocietyMEMBER NEWSLETTER
August 2013
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Hello fellow members of the Society!  This has been another exciting month in the Society. I’d like to welcome, thank, and introduce Jane Wong, who is our new Organizer for the new SNS Local Chapter in Boston! You can read more about her on our volunteers page. If any of you are interested in forming a local Society chapter in your area, please let us know.
In this issue we are also announcing the member vote results and the short version is that the proposal passed and we will be expanding the membership concept. You can read more details below.
I was also excited to publish our statement on principles this month. While we have always stated our mission and other matters of how our Society works toward that mission in our website, this statement of principles outlines the way we believe in conducting ourselves and standards related to that. You can read the full item below, and it is also showing now on our ‘about us‘ page.
I’d like to thank Ted Meissner and the Secular Buddhist Association for hosting a video conference between local organizers this month. We talked about some ways of helping the local chapters and I’ll be following up on notes taken. But this also showed just how beneficial this video conferencing tool could be to our Society. It would allow greater social interactions among members, as well as more intuitive and efficient meetings among the staff. And, it would be an excellent addition to the course we are designing on Spiritual Naturalism, allowing the mentor and students to interact at once. It does this all without requiring participants to create new profiles or pick passwords or download anything. However, the tool is costly so we are looking for a benefactor who would be willing to sponsor it for us. Please read more about the details of this HERE.
We are also undergoing efforts to fill positions for a more complete volunteer staff, which will allow us to do more things simultaneously as an organization. This will include: Executive Assistant, Editing Director, Education Director, Outreach Director, Membership Director, Chapter Director, and possibly an IT Director. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us.Lastly, as we close out August and enter September, we are rapidly approaching our 1 year anniversary! The Society officially launched on September 15th of 2012. This has been a remarkable year of meeting so many new people and I’m proud of what we have accomplished in that short time. Going forward, eventually with a full staff, new tools and features, and a growing number of supporters like you, I think there is great potential for our community and our mission. In September, once some key things are ready, I’ll likely be making some announcements for an annual membership drive. If you could please think of ways you might help others to see the benefits of membership and join, that would be so appreciated!

With love and thanks 🙂

Daniel Strain
Executive Director


UPCOMING DATES (Please mark your calendar!)
You can also see our calendar anytime by going to the Community page…

Sunday, September 8th (7:00pm CST): Planning Meeting
If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of our organization, join us in the chat tab of the SNS Member Network for a meeting discussing programs, expenses, etc. SNS Directors are required to attend, but it is open to all members. The planning meetings take place on the 2nd Sunday of each month.
Tuesday, September 17th (7:00pm CST): Monthly Member Social
Join us for casual conversation and socializing in the chat tab of the SNS Member Network! Getting to know your fellow members is on of the benefits of our Society so we look forward to chatting with you! Our Member Social happens on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.


Our recent member vote on expanding the membership concept has passed. Of 27 members at the time of the vote, 18 voted yes (67% | 90% of those voting), 2 voted no (7% | 10% of those voting), and 7 abstained (26%). As described, all dues-paying members will maintain their current benefits such as: access to the social network, forums, online meetings and socials, educational archive, free courses (in the works), etc. But dues-paying members will now be referred to as “Supporting Members”. An additional regular membership will now be available for free and will allow us to expand those who get this newsletter, but these regular members will not have the benefits of Supporting Members listed above. I believe this will be a good move for us and allow even more people to see what our community is like, encouraging them to eventually become Supporting Members. These changes will take a little time to go into effect, as they will require some work on our website and other materials. Thanks to all of you for your input on this!


Please join us on the member forums to jump in on these discussions!

The following are some of the most recent pieces added to the membership’s growing archive of inspirational and educational materials. Please feel free to discuss what you think about these with the other members in the Society forum!
Thanks to B.T. Newberg for editing these new additions!
, with B.T. Newberg & DT Strain [54 minutes].
, with B.T. Newberg & DT Strain [20 minutes].


Recently we have added a new section to our “About Us” page which outlines some of our most important general principles, beyond just our central mission as an organization. Thanks to Heather Wiech for inspiring this project. If you have comments or input on this, please feel free to let us know!~ ~ ~

Our Principles

Other than our mission as an organization, we are also deeply committed to several principles and operate in accord with them. Among these are:

(1) We believe all human beings are equal in their worth and should be given equal opportunity and rights, regardless of their race, sex, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, or their sexual orientation or identity. Each individual is deserving of treatment as an individual, based on his or her character and choices, rather than any of these group identities or characteristics.

(2) We believe in treating others as we would be treated. We believe in practicing loving-kindness toward even those who do not return it. We believe universal compassion for all beings and unconditional love is the best answer to our conflicts.

(3) We try not to criticize the beliefs of others, be it in a respectful academic sense or in a bashing or flippant manner. We instead try hard to focus on what we believe and hope that it will help others find happiness, whatever their tradition. We believe being a living example of our values is a better way to spread them than criticism and conflict.

(4) We believe in acting ethically in both our personal lives and organizationally. This includes great care with the private information we handle on behalf of our members and subscribers, ethically handling all money and funds of the organization for the purposes they were given, and being honest in all things to our volunteers, members, and the public.

(5) We believe in the compassionate use of reason for solving our problems. This includes a humble approach to knowledge and the claims we make. It also includes respect for the scientific method, used responsibly and ethically for the betterment of all.

(6) While we are not a political or activist organization, we support a more peaceful, charitable, tolerant, just, and democratic world. We also support greater access to education, the necessities of life, and environmental responsibility. We encourage our members and subscribers to take up worthy causes with activist organizations as a part of their personal practice. Ultimately, we believe that change in the world begins with change in our heart, which is where the mission of our Society is focused.

~ ~ ~


Don’t forget to check out our SNS Book Club!: SNS Book Club Link. The latest discussion is on chapter 3 of “What the Buddha Taught”: link here. Everyone is welcome!
Articles the Society has publicly published recently, as part of our mission to help others by sharing helpful wisdom and practices for better lives. If you’d like to get notice of these as they are released, please subscribe to the Society blog by clicking here if you haven’t already.
What you think and how you feel: it matters
What You Think and How You Feel: It Matters
The best mask in the world will not bring true happiness…

Religious Freedom from the Inside Out

Religious Freedom from the Inside Out
Sigfried Gold reminds us that religious freedom begins within…
Naturalist Practice: the Big Picture
Naturalist Practice: The Big Picture
We often speak of things like ritual, meditation, awe and wonder, non-attachment, compassion, etc. But how do these pieces fit together into a whole system or practice?
Living in a world without cosmic justice
Living in A World Without Cosmic Justice
Jennifer Hancock describes what to do the next time the lack of cosmic justice gets you down…

Don’t forget, if you haven’t already you can like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more content and up-to-date info. You can also check out our Local Chapters page (here) to meet spiritual naturalists in person, or start hosting a local gathering if there isn’t yet one in your city by contacting us. Thanks so much for your kind support and your membership in the Spiritual Naturalist Society!