The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

An afternoon with Heather Mallick, Sat. Sept 15, 1:30pm

SPECIAL EVENT: An Afternoon with Heather Mallick  
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 1:30 - 3:00 pm  
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 2-214 

The Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT) invites you to a a conversation with Heather Mallick. Toronto Star columnist, author and lecturer. 

As a controversial, thought-provoking, staunch defender of human rights, HAT has named Heather Mallick Humanist of the Year for 2011 in honour of her outspoken expression of humanistic values. Free admission. Join us for the conversation!

You may download a WORD poster of this event HERE, to share with others.


HAT Book Club Group Meeting
DATE:  Sat, September 8, 2:30
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street @, room 2-199
BOOK:   Damned nations: greed, guns, armies, and aid.  by Samantha Nutt.

"Samantha Nutt is one of the most intrepid voices in the humanitarian arena and Damned Nations is a book of uncommon power. Weaving gripping personal experiences with uncompromising and impassioned argument, Nutt dissects war and aid, where humanitarian efforts go wrong, and what can and should be done to bring about a more just world. Drawing from nearly two decades of experiences at the frontline of conflict, Nutt challenges many of the assumptions and orthodoxies surrounding the aid industry. A book that is at once moving, engaging, and insightful, Damned Nations has been acclaimed by readers and critics across North America."

HAT FORUM Sat Sept 1, 11am - 1pm OISE

HAT Saturday Discussion Forum
Saturday 1 September 2012
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, 11am - 1pm, Room  2-198
Topic: Zoos and animal exhibits
Facilitator: Moses Klein
What moral guidelines relating to the proper treatment of animals should we follow? Are zoos  and aquariums acceptable? What about live trained animal shows? What rules would you advocate to protect animals in zoos and aquariums? What functions do those institutions have, and how important are they?

HAT FORUM Sat August 25, OISE 11am - 1pm

HAT FORUM  on Saturday August 25, 2012
TIME:  11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
FACILTATOR:  Isabel Foot
TOPIC:  The US paranoid Principle: "If there is even a one-percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty..."
As Suskind notes, it was Cheney who enunciated the certifiably paranoid principle that governs the regime's behavior: If there is even a one-percent chance that some state or group might do serious harm to the United States, then America must respond as if that threat were a certainty — with full force, pre-emptively, disregarding any law or institution that might hinder what Bush likes to call the "path of action." Facts and truth are unimportant; the only thing that matters is the projection of unchallengeable power: "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," said Cheney. "It's about our response.

Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto

HAT FORUM, Sat. Aug 18, 11:00 am, OISE, 252 Bloor St W

DATE:  Sat. Aug 18, 11am-1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W,
FACILITATOR:  Bill Kennedy

1.       Why should we tolerate the rebranding of Canada as a Warrior Nation?
2.       Am I happy with the rebranding   What is behind this answer?
3.       How could we re-describe ourselves?
4.       What observable changes would be needed to make Canada reflect our re-description?

HAT Summer party 2nd Reminder


HAPPY MIDSUMMER - and here is an announcement that our MEMBERS ANNUAL HAT SUMMER PARTY will  be at our usual ANNEX LOCATION on the afternoon of  SUNDAY AUGUST 19, 2012, from 4-8pm , for Stimulating conversation, food and fun


HAT Book Group Saturday Aug 11, 2:30-4pm, RM 2-198

The August Book Club Group Meeting will be held on Saturday, August 11th from
2:30-4:00 at OISE, 242 Bloor Steet West - Rm.  2-198  

This month we have chosen to read the second half of "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie (from the chapter "Alpha and Omega" til the end).

Book Club leader, Jody Perrin.

Review: "Rushdie creates a wonderful panorama and guides us through post-1947 Nehru's India toward Indira's new India as his characters move across the length and breadth of India, associating themselves with history, witnessing its events, and occasionally being a part of them. From the old Kashmir with the silent dal lake to the massacre at Jallianwalbagh, from the streets and forts of Delhi to the language riots of Bombay, from the military coups in Pakistan, along the mysterious Rann of Kutch to the mangroves of the Sunderbans, the story keeps turning while showing you all the nuances, sentiments, and personalities of the Indian subcontinent. The characters are brilliantly depicted in rich variety and grab the readers attention immediately. It's not a history book but it presents history with stunning images in Rushdie's wonderful hinglish. A wonderful read! 

Send for Richard Dawkins

thanks to several people for sending this one!
from, of course....

Watch Wanda Morris on Dying with Dignity » ideacity

NEW! Watch Wanda Morris on Death with Dignity » ideacity
Here is a video recommended by a Humanist officiant, of Dying With Dignity's Wanda Morris at IdeaCity (sort of a "ted for toronto" events).
 Last month,  Executive Director, Wanda Morris was invited to present a talk on legalizing Medically-Assisted Dying at Moses Znaimer’s IdeaCity conference in Toronto. Her presentation was outstanding. She held her own against world experts in a wide range of fields and became quite the celebrity. Dozens of people – many of them young - sought her out at every break to express their support and admiration and to thank her for raising their awareness.

After Wanda's talk, Moses did a poll to see how many conference attendees supported the idea of choice in dying: 82% said they did. It made me immensely proud to watch our wondrous Wanda in action.  IdeaCity has now posted the video online and you can watch Wanda's IdeaCity presentation too.

Once you’ve watched it, please pass the link on to friends and associates.  This is an exciting time for our movement in Canada.  Awareness is rising and change may well be imminent.

Gore Vidal obituary | The Guardian

Gore Vidal during a Los Angeles interview in 1974.
Gore Vidal in 1974.

Gore Vidal obituary | Books | The Guardian

Gore Vidal, the American writer, controversialist and politician manqué, who has died aged 86, was celebrated both for his caustic wit and his mandarin poise. His public career spanned seven decades and included 25 novels, numerous collections of essays on literature and politics, a volume of short stories, five Broadway plays, dozens of television plays and film scripts, and even three mystery novels written under the pseudonym Edgar Box. After 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to centre stage with a series of blistering pamphlets and public pronouncements that led many, including his former friend Christopher Hitchens, to pounce on him. But Vidal never looked back.

Despite his output as a novelist and playwright, many critics considered Vidal's witty and acerbic essays his best work. Often published first in such journals as the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, they were collected at regular intervals between the novels. In 1993, his volume United States: Essays, 1951-91, received the National Book award. As Stephen Spender wrote in a review, "Vidal's essays celebrate the triumphs of private values over the public ones of power. They represent the drama of the private face perpetually laughing at, and through, the public one. At the same time, their seriousness lies very largely in his grasp of the conditions and characteristics which make up the public world." Vidal liked to present himself as an insider – a man who understood the world and how it worked. This knowing quality, registered in the tone of his prose, permeates the essays. Their edge and vitality derive from his complete mastery of the scene he described, whether ridiculing Ronald Reagan as "a triumph of the embalmer's art", reassessing the presidency of John F Kennedy, outlining the theory of the French "new novel" or reconsidering the importance of Montaigne or Somerset Maugham.

Probably no American writer since Ernest Hemingway lived his life so much in the public eye. His father was Eugene Vidal, Franklin Roosevelt's director of air commerce from 1933 to 1937. His maternal grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, a commanding figure in Washington politics for many decades. His mother, Nina Gore Vidal, divorced his father in 1935, then married the financier Hugh D Auchincloss, who in turn divorced her and married Jacqueline Kennedy's mother, thus establishing a connection between Vidal and the Kennedy clan that persisted through the presidency of John F Kennedy. Vidal's unflattering view of the Bouvier sisters was registered in Two Sisters (1970).

 In December 1944 he began his first novel, Williwaw... focused on a rivalry between two maritime officers; in style it owed something to Hemingway and Stephen Crane. For a writer barely out of his teens when it was published, in 1946, the book was an unusual achievement. He was compared favourably to the best writers of the generation, including Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Saul Bellow...Having little money, he moved to Guatemala, where he shared a house with Anaïs Nin, who wrote a good deal about him (some of it not very complimentary) in her diaries.

By any standard, the postwar years were amazingly productive for Vidal, who published eight novels between 1946 and 1954, including The City and the Pillar (1948), an explicitly gay novel that challenged the homophobia he believed was ingrained in American culture. It was a bestseller, but the consequences were severe, and Vidal's literary career nearly ground to a premature halt. His next five novels were largely dismissed by the mainstream press and one can feel the hostility in the reviews. The reaction of John W Aldridge was typical: "His writing after Williwaw is one long record of stylistic breakdown and spiritual exhaustion. It is confused and fragmentary, pulled in every direction by the shifting winds of impressionism. It is always reacting, always feeling and seeing; but it never signifies because it never believes."
After a period of wandering through Europe with his friend Tennessee Williams (in Paris he was greeted by André Gide as a prophet of the sexual revolution), Vidal settled along the Hudson River Valley. There, in 1950, he bought Edgewater, an impressive Greek revival mansion. He met his lifelong companion, Howard Austen, around this time. They lived together for 53 years, until Austen died in 2003...

His finest moment in the theatre was Visit to a Small Planet (1957), a play that ran for more than 300 performances on Broadway. This satire about a visitor from outer space who arrives in Virginia with the hope of starting a third world war recalls Wilde and Shaw, though it reverberates with Vidal's own unmistakable tone. The Best Man, a political play, was a hit in 1960, and was made into a widely acclaimed film starring Henry Fonda, with a script by Vidal, in 1964. It has been successfully revived many times, including in 2012 on Broadway.

..Vidal's politics were always on the left side of the spectrum, and he derided the two-party system in his native land, arguing in the 1970s: "There is only one party in the United States, the Property party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties."
(.... After moving to Italy) he wrote Julian (1964), a bestselling novel about the enigmatic Roman emperor who rejected Christianity and embraced paganism. This novel brought together preoccupations that had been present in his fiction from the beginning, such as the perceived hypocrisy of Christianity and a fascination with power. Vidal's attraction to the ancient world yielded another popular novel, Creation, in 1981.
The late 1960s were a heady time for Vidal, who feuded with William F Buckley on TV during the Chicago presidential convention of 1968 – those debates are enshrined in the memory of most Americans of a certain era. That year, he lifted his satire to a new level of outrageousness with Myra Breckinridge. His narrator, Myra, was formerly (before a sex change) Myron, nephew of Buck Loner, a retired horse-opera star. A proto-feminist, Myra opens the novel boldly: "I am Myra Breckinridge whom no man will ever possess."
Of all his works, it is his sequence of novels on American history that may be his most lasting achievement. Vidal, however, had nothing like a sequence in mind when he published Washington, DC (1967), a fairly conventional novel about politics during the era of FDR. While there is much to admire in the book, nobody could have foreseen how Vidal's American chronicle would unfold. Burr, the next to appear (in 1973), brings into play virtually all the author's various talents. It was finished about the time Vidal moved from Rome to Ravello, where he purchased La Rondinaia, a palatial villa perched on a cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The narrative voice in Burr belongs to Charlie Schuyler, a young law clerk and journalist who works for Aaron Burr, the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804 and who, two years later, initiated a secessionist conspiracy that challenged the assumptions of America's founding fathers, all of whom Burr knew well.
... Vidal's readership had expanded after Julian, but Lincoln (1984) was a huge bestseller. The very weight of the historical material pushed the author to one side (and it is to Vidal's credit that he knew enough to stay in the background). Joyce Carol Oates suggested that Lincoln was "not so much an imaginative reconstruction of an era as an intelligent, lucid and highly informative transcript of it, never less than workmanlike in its blocking out of scenes and often extremely compelling. No verbal pyrotechnics here, nothing to challenge a conservative aesthetics biased against the house of fiction itself. By subordinating the usual role of the novelist to the role of historian-biographer, Mr Vidal acknowledges his faith in the high worth of his material."
The last three books in the sequence – Empire (1987), Hollywood (1990) and The Golden Age (2000) – in many ways constitute one novel appearing in three instalments. Vidal was uncanny in the way he linked his heroes and heroines to history and to each other. As Richard Poirer noted in a review of Empire: "Vidal manages inextricably to mix the fictive and the historical, the social and the legendary. These elements are so fused in his style that none can be differentiated from the others. All partake of the same issues of inheritance, legitimacy, rivalry, deception and ambition." The Golden Age brings the series full circle, revisiting the Roosevelt era, when Vidal was on the scene as a young man in Washington.

Vidal continued to write satirical novels, alternating them with his American historical novels. These included Myron (1974), a sequel to Myra Breckinridge; Duluth (1983); and Live from Golgotha (1992). He also wrote two satires on apocalyptic religion: Messiah (1954) and Kalki (1978). The historical and satirical veins of his writing mingled dexterously in The Smithsonian Institution (1998), a slight, whimsical novel about a 13-year-old boy wandering through the museum of history..

Vidal seemed to have known everyone and been everywhere, slipping easily from the political corridors and back rooms of Washington to the poolside patios of Hollywood and the salons of European writers and intellectuals. His witty remarks became the stuff of tabloid gossip, as when a friend asked him to be the godfather of his new child, and Vidal quipped: "Always a godfather, never a god." When his editor in New York telephoned with the news that Capote had died, he responded: "A wise career move." Another time, he remarked: "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."
Although one can easily find connections between Vidal and previous American writers, from Mark Twain and Henry James to HL Mencken and Edmund Wilson, he remained sui generis – an American original.

HAT FORUM, Sat. Aug 4, 11am 242 Bloor Street w

HAT Forum
DATE: Saturday, August 4, 11am - 1:30 pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 242 Bloor Street West  Room 10-200/204
TOPIC:  Liberal religion
What is liberal religion? How does it differ both from humanism and from more conservative or fundametalist forms of religion? What do liberal religious communities offer their congregants? Is liberal religion in decline, and would that be a good or bad thing? How do we as secular humanists relate to religious groups that espouse some humanistic ideals?
(This Forum is inspired by Margaret Wente's column "The collapse of the liberal church" in the July 28 Globe and Mail:

Remembering Gore Vidal: A Masterful Humanist Voice

Remembering Gore Vidal: A Masterful Humanist Voice

American Humanist Association honorary president forced us to look at our prejudices
Brian Magee, 202-238-9088 ex 105,

(Washington, DC - Aug. 1, 2012) - The death of Gore Vidal on July 31, 2012 at the age of 86 has humanists mourning the loss of perhaps American’s best known public intellectual. As honorary president of the American Humanist Association since 2009, Vidal added an enthusiastic, progressive and dynamic voice to the AHA and the humanist movement.

“The progressive and humanist values Gore Vidal repeatedly espoused moved the culture in a positive direction,” said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. “He spent his life pointing out the places in society that needed the most attention without worrying who might be embarrassed or upset by his opinions.”

He’s been called an iconoclast, a provocateur, and a misanthrope,” said Humanist magazine editor Jennifer Bardi. “And of course Gore occasionally said things that gave humanists pause. But he was forever dedicated to the cause of enlightenment and exposed injustice and hypocrisy at every turn."

Vidal succeeded Kurt Vonnegut as the AHA’s honorary president, saying he would be “most honored to succeed my old friend as honorary president of the Association: Although he himself is hardly easy to replace, I will do my best to fill the great gap.” A seven-part video interview featuring Vidal can be seen here.

The targets of Vidal’s criticism included the Religious Right, American expansionism, political changes done for “national security,” and the military-industrial complex, among others items. His advocacy for individual liberty, separation of church and state, and reason and rationality embodies the mission of the American Humanist Association.

Vidal first made a name for himself with the 1948 publication of The City and the Pillar, a book that created turmoil because its main character is openly gay without also being seen as unnatural. He was forced to write several subsequent novels using a pseudonym because reviewers and advertising outlets blacklisted him.

In 1969, Vidal wrote in Esquire, “…homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime . . . despite the best efforts of our puritan tribe to make it all three. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word 'natural,' not normal."

At first known for his novels, he later became known as one of the greatest essayists of the twentieth century.

In 1950 Vidal met his long-term partner Howard Austen, who died in 2003.

While Vidal was seen as one of the early champions of sexual liberation, he was also politically active in many areas. In 1960 he launched an unsuccessful campaign for New York’s 29th congressional district seat, and in 1982 he failed to unseat California Gov. Jerry Brown

Gore Vidal - the tributes start....

From Doug Arcand:

Gore Vidal - "Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge, all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."

HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.