December 2013 Newsletter

The Spiritual Naturalist Society

Happy New Year!
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Hello dear members!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and good time on New Years. 2013 was an excellent first-complete year for us as an organization and a community. There was so much to be done in just basic organization, paperwork, technical services and platforms, personnel and staff building, and more but it has come together. We now have a reasonably functional organization in place, delivering content and meeting mission objectives at an impressive level for our size. And just recently we surpassed 4,000 followers on our Facebook page! We are now primed to enhance and grow our community and what we can do for spiritual naturalism and our members going forward.

As we turn toward 2014 I feel great excitement at our potential in the next year. More and more people are coming forward to volunteer; with administration, as writers, organizers, local group leaders, and more. This has made possible some great things. One of our first big projects will be a series of online courses in Spiritual Naturalism. I will soon be making some announcements on this, and it is thanks to the work of our Education Director, B.T. Newberg that we will be going forward with this important service. Thanks too goes to Membership Director Matthew Copple for his input and thoughts throughout this process, and for volunteering for our ‘beta test’ of the first course.

There are also new things happening in publishing, with release of our 1 year anthology book coming soon, expanded opportunities to reach more people, plans for special live online events, and more. I will also be furthering naturalistic meditation as part of a panel on meditation at this year’s convention of the American Humanist Association. It’s a lot to keep up with so we could definitely use more hands. If you’d like to offer your time and help, please contact us, even if you can only offer a limited amount of time – we will work with your schedule and capacities.
Please read on the rest of this issue to learn more. Especially, check out news from our Executive Assistant, Michelle LeBlanc about her family to send words of support, and take a look at some needed staff positions we need to fill. And, as always, we hope you enjoy and are helped by our articles and other content.  Lastly, drop by the Society’s social network and drop a line to the other members in the forums or join us for this month’s Member Social.
Take care and best wishes friends!

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…

Tuesday, January 21st (7:00pm CST): Monthly Member Social
Join us for casual conversation and socializing online. We will be sending out the URL link for this video chat shortly before the meeting. Please use headphones if you have them and make sure you have a good connection. For those without webcams you can also participate via text chat. 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.

Many of you know our Executive Assistant, Michelle LeBlanc. Her mother, Carol, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer so Michelle and her family are taking care of her and times have been tough, to say the least. With Michelle’s permission, we wanted to share with all the members part of Michelle’s report. Please send Michelle your love and support at I’m sure she and her family will be encouraged to hear from you.  Michelle writes:

“For those of you who are still unclear…on top of my mom being a severe diabetic and only having about 40% of her heart working, she was diagnosed last March with terminal breast & lungs cancer. (That being her 4th time having the cancer return.) Shortly after, it spread to her stomach, etc and was given 6months-2 years to live.  We do not expect to have her with us for much longer and expect this will prob be her last year with us.

Mom is pretty much in bed all the time now with the odd occasion when she gets out of the house with extra care…but it does not happen often anymore at all as its really hard on her and she cant stay out too long. She is always tired due to the meds she is on, etc. She needs complete care at home now. Unable to really do anything for herself. She pretty much needs assistance with everything…including getting in and out of bed, and all the “bare basics of life.”

She is has days when she barely eats and other days where she can….but she cant eat much quantity at all anymore. Her mind is also starting to slowly go. Sometimes not being able to determine time or even a dream from reality…”

Please join us on the member forums to jump in on these discussions!
– Our Membership Director, Matt, has recently posted a list of learning resources on Stoicism for those interested!
– We also have a new section on the forums where members can introduce themselves – please stop by and tell us about yourself…
Our Society is in need of some volunteers to fill the following positions. Please consider whether you could offer your time to help out. Even if it’s just a little time each month, we are willing to work within your schedule! It is only through the help of people like you that we can further the mission of the Society to bring greater happiness to people by making more people aware of helpful naturalistic practices. To volunteer, please contact us.

Outreach Director
The Outreach Director is responsible for efforts to make the Society and Spiritual Naturalism known in the public for purposes of growth and fulfillment of our mission. This includes working with the Executive Director on messaging, placement of advertising, social media engagement, and other forms of outreach.

Chapter Director
The Chapter Director oversees the development of local chapters around the country and the world. This includes keeping in touch with all Organizers of the chapters, sending regular communications to the Organizers for distribution to local attendees, encouraging the sharing of ideas between Organizers, supporting local chapters with materials, and helping to grow both the number and size of local chapters by recruiting new Organizers and building affiliations with leaders of existing compatible local groups.

Arts Director
The Arts Director is responsible for making sure the Society continues to recognize the important role of the arts in spirituality and one’s personal spiritual practice. They seek out inspirational visual art, music, poetry, dance, theater, and other art forms with messages meaningful to Spiritual Naturalists, and add them to our member archives. They also help to share these artistic expressions with the membership and the public.


Some of the latest from partner-organizations of the Spiritual Naturalist Society…

– The Charter for Compassion has recently reached it’s 500th Partner of the charter (read more here). Congratulations to this excellent program started by Karen Armstrong, and the good work it is doing fostering a more compassionate world!
– Greg Epstein, of the Humanist Community at Harvard, recently announced the January 2nd death of their founder, Tom Ferrick, at the age of 84. Tom was the first recognized Humanist chaplain on a university or college campus. You can read more about this at their site here.


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.

Roots of Spiritual Naturalism, Part 1: Introduction
The first in B. T. Newberg’s series exploring the question “Were there Spiritual Naturalists in the ancient world?”

Tao and Governance (a personal view)

Thomas Schenk, compares different approaches to self governance and cultivation of the soul…

Harvesting Happiness

DT Strain considers one way to harvest ‘ambient happiness’ from our social environment…
Gnothi Seauton: On Being Human
Gnothi Seauton: On Being Human
Maggie Jay Lee discuses how the Delphic maxim “Gnothi Seauton” is relevant to spirituality and living in right relationship to reality.

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!