Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Divinity Matters

 "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me ... I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
Isaiah 45:7 [760 to 700 BCE]

 "[Then] came the day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were opened and I was alone - terribly alone in a world without God and without man. Without love or mercy. I had ceased to be anything but ashes, yet I felt myself to be stronger than the Almighty, to whom my life had been tied for so long. I stood amid that praying congregation, observing it like a stranger.”
Elie Wiesel, Night, 1960 CE

"Does the nature of suffering, including its apparent causes [or lack thereof], breadth, duration, and intensity, argue against the existence of a personal God?"

Reconciling the ideas of divinity and humanity ... with the coexistence of good and evil ... and with the mingling of innocence and suffering ... has challenged every generation both before and after Job ... so why should we be any different in 2017?  It seems there is a time for everything in today's world ... and that anything goes ...
  •     a time for the classes, religions and nations of earth to be ripped apart by gaps in wealth, theology and might that are beyond our imagination [much less our understanding] ...
  •     a time for powerful climate changes to unleash ruin ... while powerful nation states unleash war [both military and financial] ... making virtual slaves and/or actual refugees of multitudes [especially the poor] ...
  •     a time for the foundations of current civilization to convulse and collapse one-by-one as human, animal and environmental problems proliferate ... demanding a new world order to rise from the rubble of cities, habitats and nature to fill the resulting void.
We have secured a broad spectrum of capable thinkers to consider this troubling question [and its corollaries] honestly and logically ... and to help us understand ... why reconciling a personal God with evil and suffering has never been and will never be logically possible [or, perhaps, even humanely desirable] ... or why and how we can stand as never before as apologists for the perpetual and undiminished goodness and omnipotence of God [the evil and suffering of all time notwithstanding].

When and Where

Tuesday, November 28th,  7:00 to 8:45 pm
Friends University,
Sebits Auditorium in the Riney Fine Arts Center


With hope and gratitude, please welcome our 6 panelists [in order of acceptance]. Remember, our panelists have busy lives so we do NOT ask them to provide a point of view [POV] statement or suggested readings in advance ... but if they do, we will provide links to those materials following their name/bio below ... and we encourage you to review them in advance as well.

Fr. Paul O'Callaghan (Dean of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral)
Fr. Sherman A. Orr (Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church)
Rabbi Judah Kogen (Hebrew Congregation)
Rev. Tom Penning (Pastor of Jubilee Presbyterian Church)
Dr. David Cullen (l'Universite des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg)
Jamar Martin (local atheist/agnostic/skeptic community leader)

The Evening's Format

The first half of the evening will consist of each panelist giving an opening position statement. The second half of the evening will be dedicated to questions ... from panelists to their fellow panelists ... and from the audience to panelists ... so bring your questions as well as your answers [if you have any 😕].

And for those of you who are inclined to get some questions out in the open for consideration BEFORE the evening's meeting ... feel free ... join the liberales ... and blog your COMMENTS and REPLIES below as needed/wished to build some trains of thought for us.


A BIG thanks to all our panelist and audience members for sharing your thoughts on "Divinity Matters". It was an evening of remarkable and steady candor and empathy on a very difficult topic ... our ability to comprehend the undeniable and very personal human suffering in our midst. Together we probed and tested our hopes and fears ... a good beginning if not our final labor:
"It is worth starting with visions, though, because they establish hopes and fears. History then determines which prevail."
John Lewis Gaddis
For those who missed this most edifying evening at Friends University, take time to view the excellent AV recording on "Divinity Matters from Paul Soutar at Graphic Lens ... or just go to YouTube and search for us under "New Symposium Society Divinity Matters".

We hope you each have holidays that are uncommonly good. And we hope you will stay in touch with New Symposium Society in 2018. If you have some ideas to share about ways to improve our work ... just let us hear from you ... contact us at newsymposium@gmail.com.  Goodbye until our next meeting and stay tuned to our blogsite for further info.

NSS  Suggested Readings

Christian and Atheist Ethics : How Much Common Ground? 2013

God Wounds Us Because He Loves Us, Marshall Segal, 2017
Suffering, Jewish Virtual Library
The Problem of Evil, Wikipedia

The Problem of Pain ... CS Lewis, 1940
When Bad Things Happen to Good People ... Rabbi Harold Kushner, 1981
The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? ...  David Bentley Hart, 2005
The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically ... Peter Singer, 2015

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Healthcare Matters

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores." Luke 16

"It occurred to me that there was no difference between men ... so profound as the difference between the sick and the well."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Is high-quality, affordable medical care in America still a reasonable expectation for most Americans? Is it even a human right? Is it better achieved by government guarantee or by the free market?"

Healthcare has always been and will always be an important issue for most people. Sickness touches almost all of us at one time or another and when it does it raises all sorts of intertwined questions
... from personal responsibility through social welfare to divine purpose
... from lifestyle and prevention through treatment and intervention to DNR [do-not-resuscitate] orders, palliative/hospice care and the right to die.

When and Where

Tuesday, October 17,  7:00 to 8:45 pm
Friends University, William Penn Hall, Room 100 (directly west of the Fine Arts building)

Opening Question

Maintaining the quality, accessibility, and affordability of America's health care system is an ongoing challenge.  Are we sliding gradually and inevitably into a single-payer system? If the right to life exists, does that imply the right to the health care that preserves life? What does the future of health care in America look like? (Don't ask the Congress of the United States!)


With enthusiasm and gratitude, please welcome our 4 panelists. We should all make an honest effort to review any point of view statements [POVs] and any readings they have suggested to stimulate our thoughts for the evening [any links will follow their name/bio].

Dr. Carla A. Lee, APRN-BC, is the Executive Director of La Familia Senior/Community Center and President of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Nurses Society. Professional recognitions:
First Certified ARRN, nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist, in Kansas
Fellow the American Academy of Nursing, American Nurses Association
Fellow of the International Biographical Association, Cambridge, England
Inducted to Ks Nurses Hall of Fame, 20l3

Dr. Mark Mosley has been an ER physician for 25 years at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at the Kansas University School of Medicine –Wichita.  He has treated the medically indigent, homeless, mentally ill, Medicaid patients, and privately insured patients at a for-profit hospital (within HCA, the largest for-profit provider in the United States) -- a very interesting mix of capitalism and government-driven social responsibility.  (Dr. Mosley was the “Top Doctor of Wichita” in 2006 and 2007.)
US Healthcare fact sheet copy.docx
US Healthcare Coverage, Cost & Quality.docx
An American Sickness—how healthcare became big business and how you can take it back. (2017) - Elizabeth Rosenthal
Ending Medical Reversal- improving outcomes, saving lives. (2015)- Vinayak Prasad & Adam Cifu

Dr. Kent Murray is a retired internal medicine physician, having been Chief of Staff at the Wichita VA for 13 years and an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Dean for Veterans Affairs at the Kansas University School of Medicine –Wichita.  As a VA physician, he has spent most of his career in essentially “socialized medicine.”  Dr. Murray claims to have seen vast improvements in that system and understands its possible extensions.  He has "felt embarrassment that the richest country in the world has, unlike other Western industrialized nations, a largely profit-driven health care system which leaves millions under-insured or uninsured."  Believing that health care is a human right, he generally favors a single-payer system.
4 Models for Healthcare

Dr. Josh Umbehr is a certified Family Physician in Wichita who started Atlas MD, an insurance-free, direct primary care practice, wherein he is able to “shrug off the burdens and restrictions of government and insurance regulation,” so that he can focus solely on his patients and their needs.

[Many thanks to John Todd and Fr. Benedict Armitage for their help in securing the participation of our panelists.]

The Evening's Format

The first half of the evening will consist of each panelist giving an opening position statement to which we will provide a link on this page in advance [if the panelist wishes to share part or all of it with us in advance] ... although we have explicitly advised panelists that providing a position statement in advance is not required.

The second half of the evening will be dedicated to questions ... from panelists to their fellow panelists ... and from the audience to panelists ... so bring your questions as well as your answers.

And for those of you who are inclined to get some questions out in the open for consideration BEFORE the evening's meeting ... feel free ... join the liberales ... and blog your COMMENTS and REPLIES below as needed/wished to build some trains of thought for us.


Well done to all our symposiasts !! It was an evening of probing and testing ... of dialogue and diagnosis ... of therapies and treatments ... and of hopes and fears ... all worthy of the best traditions of doctors and nurses:

"... Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. ..."
from Hippocratic Oath

For those who missed this enjoyable and enlightening evening, take time to view the AV recording on Healthcare Matters from Paul Soutar at Graphic Lens ... or just go to YouTube and search for us under "New Symposium Society Healthcare Matters". It shows once again that Washington is clueless when it comes to the real people, the real issues and the real answers.

We are adding the panelists' suggested readings under their names above for you to use in continuing your own education in these important matters ... and let your voice be heard.

"Divinity Matters" is just ahead in November 2017 ... and "War Matters" is in the planning stages for February 2018. We hope you are already thinking about these important [and not unrelated] subjects ... so if you have some ideas to share ... just let us hear from you ... contact us at newsymposium@gmail.com.   Goodbye until our next meeting and stay tuned to our blogsite for further info.

Other Suggested Readings

Type 2 Diabetes Is "Processed Food Disease", Dr. Robert Lustig, 2017

"How the Government Ruined US Healthcare — and What Can Be Done", Alice Salles, 2017
"Medicare for All: Leaving No One Behind", Senator Bernie Sanders, 2016
"Was Friedrich Hayek a Hypocrite on Socialized Medicine?", Karl Hess, 2011
"Prevention vs. Treatment: What's the Right Balance?", Halley S. Faust and Paul T. Menzel, 2012
"Justice and Access to Health Care", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, revised 2013
"Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege: a construct of Western thought", Biomed Central, 2007

"Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End", by Atul Gawande, 2014
[PBS Frontline Report on Being Mortal]

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Education Matters

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
- Albert Einstein

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
- Aristotle

Education Matters

Is a good education hard to find ... or are we just looking in the wrong places?

Einstein ... Aristotle ... it seems like everyone knows something about education ...
  • what it is [or is not]
  • how it is acquired [or if it just happens]
  • what it should [or should not] do or be used for by those who possess it
  • and, perhaps most important of all, whether the answers to all these questions about human education endure across continents and over time or whether they change in response to external temporal factors which make benchmarking a "good education" confusing if not downright impossible.
While we do not expect Einstein or Aristotle to be at the next meeting of the New Symposium Society to discuss education, we do hope YOU will be there ... ready to listen to our panelists ... and to help them probe this perennial and promising topic by asking your own questions.

When and Where

  • 7:00 to 8:30 pm Tuesday evening June 27
  • Room 103, Business and Technology Building, FRIENDS UNIVERSITY (NE corner of the campus, near the intersection of Maple and Hiram) ... our special thanks to Friends for its continued interest in promoting local civic dialogue!

Opening Questions

Our panelists have agreed to respond in their opening statements to the following questions:
  • What are the most important observable outcomes of a K-12 education?
  • What are the responsibilities of the state, the home, the business community and the professional educator in ensuring those outcomes?
  • How are “we” doing? Any changes needed?
After they respond, the floor will be open to you [and to them] to probe their answers to these questions and to raise other questions about education which the panelists have each agreed to try to answer ... individually and collectively.


We are glad to announce our evening's panelists ... and excited to hear what they have to share with us.
Paul Babich had a lengthy and distinguished service as a classroom teacher and department chairman in Wichita Public Schools, retiring in 2009.  Mr. Babich was full-time release president of United Teachers of Wichita, the local teachers’ union, and served on the board of directors of Kansas NEA.  His B.A. (History) and MEd. (Secondary Education) are from  Wichita State University.

Dr. Walt Chappell is the president of Educational Management Consultants and former member of the Kansas State Board of Education. He has been a classroom teacher, data analyst, grant writer, curriculum developer, and evaluator of cost-effective learning systems.  His Ph.D. is from Michigan State University, with emphasis in instructional systems design. Mr. Chappell’s undergraduate degree is from Kansas University (Biology).

Lauren Coleman-Tempel works as a Research Associate for the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium (KC-AERC) housed at the University of Kansas. She is also a third year doctoral student studying educational inequality through a sociological lens in the Educational Leadership and Policy department at KU. In addition to teaching in the School of Education, Lauren has worked in migrant and low-income education initiatives.

Dr. Delia Shropshire is the principal of Holy Savior Catholic Academy here in Wichita.  She came to Wichita in 1998 after serving in classroom and administrative positions at St. Katharine of Sienna Catholic School in inner-city Baltimore. Her undergraduate degree is from Loyola University Maryland (Business Administration and Management Information Systems); her doctorate, from Capella University (Educational Leadership).

Dan Snyder is a Rhetoric and Logic instructor at the Classical School of Wichita. As a U.S. Marine, he worked in military simulation programming and lectured on design theory.  He was a training technology manager with the Drew biomedical division of the American Red Cross.   In a parallel career, Mr. Snyder performed regularly at the White House as a member of the U.S. Army Chorus, then on stages around the world as an independent soloist.  He has studied at Bryan College, George Mason, Mannes Conservatory, and The New School in New York, where he holds a certificate in screenwriting.

The Evening's Format

Each panelist will give an opening 5 minute position statement ... to which we will provide a link on this page in advance if the panelist wishes to share it with us in advance ... although we have explicitly advised panelists that providing a position statement in advance is not required.

After the opening statements, our moderator will dedicate the remainder of the evening to questions ... from panelists to their fellow panelists ... and from the audience to panelists ... so bring your questions since we will devote most of the evening to looking for possible answers to them.

And for those of you who feel inclined to get some questions out in the open for consideration BEFORE the evening's meeting, feel free to blog your COMMENTS below and to REPLY to any blogged comments as needed to build some trains of thought about our subject.


Another GREAT symposium evening ... with a SUPER panel ... an INFORMED audience ... at an excellent UNIVERSITY [thank you Friends !!!] ... has been completed. We all brought our ideas about education ... and left [hopefully] with a few new ones shared by our panelists and audience of symposiasts willing to come together in civil dialogue.

If you missed it or if you just want to watch it again, here is our AV presentation of the evening courtesy of Paul Soutar at Graphic Lens ... let Paul know how much you appreciate his excellent work for New Symposium Society.

We are already thinking about our next subject ... so if you have some ideas about a topic we need to grasp better ... just let us hear from you ... contact us at newsymposium@gmail.com.   Bye until our next meeting and in the meantime stay tuned to our blogsite.

Suggested Readings

If you have some readings you would like to suggest, just let us know by emailing them to us at NewSymposium@gmail.com and we will try to review them for inclusion.


“The State of Education in this Troubled Age”, address by Walter Lippmann, 1940
“Obama Should Heed Tocqueville on Schools”, article by Williamson Evers, 2011

“The Argument for Tuition-Free College”, article by Rep. Keith Ellison, 2016


Other Blogs

Friday, February 10, 2017

Labor Matters

“Machines are worshiped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.”
- Sceptical Essays, 1928, Bertrand Russell

"We need to overthrow, not the government, ... but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering."
- Dorothy Day , 1930's

"[Robots are] always polite, they always up-sell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case."
- Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor nominee, 2017

New Symposium: Rescuing Discourse from the Political Parties

The topic for Tuesday, April 18, 2017

“AI is killing Labor, but don't blame the Robots.”

In An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations 1776, Adam Smith argues
“that the economic system is automatic, and able to regulate itself. This is often referred to as the ‘invisible hand.’ The ability to self-regulate and to ensure maximum efficiency, however, is threatened by monopolies, tax preferences, lobbying groups, and other ‘privileges’ extended to certain members of the economy at the expense of others.” Wikipedia
 But in Das Kapital [Capital: Critique of Political Economy] 1867, Karl Marx proposes
“that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labour, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value.  The [capitalist] is able to claim the right to this surplus value because he or she is legally protected by the ruling regime, through property rights.” Wikipedia
And yet neither Smith nor Marx envisioned a world where human labor, replaced by capital including robots and artificial intelligence [AI], would become a useless, vestigial reminder of civilization past. Are we unexpectedly and fortunately on the brink of a brave new world … or have we predictably and tragically arrived at the end of the world as both Smith and Marx knew it? In order to answer this and related questions about our future, we need to consider our past and present to understand how we arrived at this juncture in the history of political economy. And that will be the topic of our next New Symposium ... because labor matters.

When and Where

Tuesday April 18 ... 7:00 - 8:30 PM ... Room 200, Business and Technology Building, Friends University (NE corner of the campus, near the intersection of Maple and Hiram).

Questions for Consideration 

"Artificial intelligence is killing labor, but don’t blame the robots.”  Then who or what is to blame?  The human heart?  Excessive expectations of profit?  The maladies or unfitness of the working classes? The Federal Reserve?  The educational system? Globalism? The demise of labor unions?
We hope each of you will have time to think through your own responses to the following questions, maybe even do a little research and reading on the topic. The competition between capital and labor is longstanding. Investors seek profits. Workers seek wages. At what point of severity does the competition become too destructive to community?
  • When communities are impoverished as investors flee to more profitable labor pools?
  • When investors place short-term profiting before anything else?
  • When relationships within the workplace grow embittered as reduced wages deny workers the traditional purchasing powers of the middle class?
  • What about the effects of fiat credit on the competition between labor and capital?
  • Where is the justice when investors can gain cheap credit through government monetary policy and no longer have to rely on borrowed capital built from the saved wages of workers?
  • How deeply is the love of money rooted in evil?
  • What will happen to human labor as investors find it easier and easier to replace them with “robots”?
  • What kind of a world is it when robots are taxed so that the government can issue welfare to more and more former workers?
  • Is human nature dependent on labor for personal dignity?
  • How will this competition between capital and labor play out?

Featured Symposiasts [Panelists] 

After some internal discussion, the trustees of New Symposium Society think it best to return, for the time being,  to a more "open format." We will retain a panel of principal dialogists but make room for significant questions and comments from those in attendance. Mike will act as moderator and govern the flow of dialogue, when helpful.  At any rate, we'll sit close and see what wisdom emerges.

Our list of panelists is now complete.
  • Robert Love was General Counsel and VP of Administration in the family business, Love Box Company, prior to his retirement.  His ability and willingness to bring profundity to any topic makes Bob a highly sought dialogist.
  • Russell Fox is Professor of Political Science at Friends University and is a frequent contributor to government forums and important local conversations on current affairs.
  • Malcolm Harris is Professor of Finance at Friends University. He has been an expert witness on market-based rates for pipelines, cost of capital, and accounting issues.
  • Joshua Shorter is the Quality Assurance Manager of Integrated Components, a family-owned business that specializes in contract manufacturing for OEM companies.
  • Father Patrick Reilley is an ordained priest currently serving the Sacred Heart Parish in Arkansas City.  He will represent the ethics of Catholic Social Teaching.

Why not join the dialogue? 

We hope you will browse the suggested reading list and join the dialogue immediately by simply going to the end of the blog page you're currently reading.
  • If no comments are shown, just click the small comments:” link in the middle of the line . . . and voila ... the existing Comment-Replies strands will appear!  Blog on!
  • You may add a Reply to the train of thought in an existing Comment-Replies strand or introduce a new train of thought by entering a new Comment to which others [including yourself] can then Reply creating a new Comment-Replies strand.
  • For readability, we try to limit the number of separate Comment-Replies strands by entering a new Comment only when it introduces a new train of thought ... and remember that you can Reply to another Reply and the blog will maintain the proper hierarchy within the Comment-Replies strand.
  • But just hearing your thoughts is most important regardless of how you blog them!
See the page on Blogging Tips for help if you are new to blogging. And if you come across well-conceived articles on our topic, please apprise us at newsymposium@gmail.com and we'll be sure to review/list those readings. Thank you.


 THANKS to everyone for an evening of shared opinions and thoughts on a subject that is important to all who labor for their living.

If you missed, here is a link to Paul Soutar's fine AV recording of the evening.

A special thanks to Malcolm and Russell and Friends University for hosting us ... graciously as usual.

To improve the quality of an evening at New Symposium, YOUR CANDID COMMENTS are essential. Leave them below ... or email them to us at newsymposium@gmail.com.

We hope to see you again soon ... and hope you will watch here for info about the next meeting of the New Symposium Society !!

Suggested Readings

Low interest rates actually hurt the middle class, 2015, Marc Miles
Restoring America’s Economic Mobility, 2016, Frank Buckley
Career advice for my future, egg-harvested child, 2016, Elmo Keep
French Socialist: Tax Robots and Pay Humans Universal Income, 2017, Tyler Durden
Moderator's POV, 2017, Bob Love

The Ethics of Money Production, 2008, Jörg Guido Hülsmann
[Chapter 13: "The Cultural and Spiritual Legacy of Fiat Inflation", pp 175-191]
[Conclusion: "Two Concepts of Capitalism", p 237]
A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All, Charles Hugh Smith