August 2019 RNA Newsletter

We pass a milestone


August always brings a sense of anticipation, but for your association, never more than this year, for 3 reasons I’ll share with you below.  Well, MAYBE 2014 brought more excitement, but the excitement of starting the association was laced with anxiety, because we didn’t know whether anyone beyond the founding directors would ever join us.  Indeed, those 8 founders committed to be “locked in” to a 5-year term until we could see if our association had legs.  The plan was to start a system of 3-year rotating terms for directors if we made it through that first five years.

We now know we made it through fine, and the legs are firmly on the ground, and therefore the first reason for our new anticipation is that we have selected the first three of our new directors.  Since it is my turn to write the newsletter, I get the honor and pleasure of introducing them to you.  They are:

Rex Hunt from Australia.  We hadn’t originally thought we would attract so many clergy (our dedicated group of religious naturalist clergy now numbers upwards of 40), so Rex is our first director from that group and our first international director.  Read more about him (and the other two members below) at the Director’s Page of the website

Carol Wayne White, a Professor of Religion at Bucknell.  In case you are starting to get nervous (as I suspect some of you will) that both of these new directors have strong ties to religion, please know that both of them are committed religious naturalists, and bring our perspective INTO religious venues. We have always been well-represented in academic halls, but Carol’s specific interests will certainly season our board in exciting ways.

Tom Rockwell is an artist, and Senior Creative Director of Global Collaborations at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception.  He has always led projects that explore the interface between science, art, and religious orientation, and we think he will help keep the board aware of the power of art.

I said there are three reasons August brings new anticipation.  The second is the 2020 IRAS conference Ursula highlighted in last month’s newsletter, but I want to add a note or two.  First, please be aware that this is a big deal!  Not only do we join IRAS’s long history of ground-breaking conferences stretching back now 65 years, but we have, for the first time, the chance to meet one another eyeball to eyeball.  I really hope lots of you will come.   Our president Ursula Goodenough will be a featured speaker, and our new director Carol Wayne White will be another.  A recently announced speaker will be the well-known philosopher Owen Flanagan, who has proposed a “natural method” to use in understanding consciousness, well displayed in his book The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized.   We’ll keep you posted on registration deadlines, but please go ahead and pencil in the dates if you haven’t already:  June 27 – July 4, 2020.  You can go to the IRAS website to learn more.

And that brings up the third reason for new anticipation.  On the island we’ll have opportunities to so some formal and much-needed brainstorming, to determine what our next five years will bring.  I myself plan to spend much of this year preparing for those sessions, and those of you on RNAnet will probably get pinged several times to help me re-draft some ideas.  If any of you not on RNAnet would like to be included in that pre-brain-storming, please let me know.

Happy Fall to you all (Happy Spring to the 16 of you who live in the same hemisphere as our new director Rex Hunt); and thank you all for your membership and contribution as our association moves forward.


Michael Cavanaugh, Secretary