Secular Conversations

The Public is Welcome

Humanists of North Central Florida programs are offered monthly in collaboration with Master the Possibilities Lifelong Learning Center in Ocala, Florida.  Join the conversation on the third Saturday each month.

Freethinkers, including atheists, agnostics and others, participate in respectful dialogue, sharing ideas on a variety of subjects. Videos, essays, participants and guest speakers may be used to enhance topics. Check out this informative video and then use the links below to register.

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Master Poss class1

2:00 p.m. on Third Saturdays
Master the Possibilities
Cypress Hall
8413 SW 80th Street
Ocala, Florida 34481
$5 Registration Fee at the Door

November 18, 2017

Jesus Without God

Leader: Rod Broker

For this lecture, Rod Broker brings the unique perspective of a world traveler, HNCFL Board member and retired Lutheran minister. After the presentation, audience members are invited to share their own perspectives on this interesting and provoking topic.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

December 16, 2017

The Life of Thomas Paine (Film)

“The world is my country and my religion is to do good.” — Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was the one truly radical Founding Father of America, a man who changed the face of the world with his pen. Common Sense inspired the American Revolution. The Age of Reason called on us to use our ability to reason as the basis for our beliefs and morality.

Largely forgotten and greatly misunderstood, Thomas Paine, ironically, is quoted by almost every political faction in the world today. Thomas Paine’s vision was a call to action. As he said, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

Audience members are invited to participate in discussion at the conclusion of the film.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

January 20, 2018

What You Always Wanted to
Know About Trans People
But Had No One to ASK

Leaders: J Sumerau and Robyn Kelly

Transgender issues have been emerging in recent years and creating much controversy in different parts of the US and the world.  Listen and discuss what these experts have to say about the nature of transgender identity and issues that transgender people face in modern society, including:

  • Personal evolution as a transgender person
  • Challenges faced in the process of coming to terms with a new identity
  • Use of public places like bathrooms
  • Acceptance or rejection in different social settings
  • Problems faced by transgender individuals when accessing medical care
  • The public’s perception of transgender individuals and the impact of these perceptions
  • The future of transgender identity as our society becomes more pluralistic

Drawing on experience and scholarship, Dr. Sumerau and Ms. Kelly discuss everyday experience as well as historical, religious, and scientific challenges transgender people face in contemporary American society.

Biographical information:

J.E. Sumerau, PhD. is a teacher, researcher, and novelist specializing in intersections of gender, sexuality, religion, and health. He is published in more than 40 scientific journals and edited collections. He regularly contributes to scholarly and political discussions on Write Where It Hurts and Conditionally Accepted at Inside Higher Education. Sumerau is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Applied Sociology at the University of Tampa. He authored the non-binary, bisexual coming of age novel Cigarettes & Wine.

Robyn Kelly earned an MS in Human Relations. She retired from 30-plus years of government service specializing in systems analysis for Air Force Intelligence Operations, Naval recruit education, and Army simulation contract management. Robyn has spent several years as a group counselor/facilitator. She assisted in establishing Gender Identity in Florida Today in Orange County​ and served on its board of directors. Robyn established the Triangle Interweave website and has served as the secretary of the Board of the Interweave Chapter in Lake County. She regularly speaks on conditions faced by members of the transgender community and answers questions on LGBTQ issues.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

February 17, 2018

God and Government:
A Dangerous Mix

Leader: David Williamson

The specific harms that may come to American citizens by ignoring the encroachment of religion into government is the topic of this presentation. The unexpected consequences may surprise you!

Biographical information:  David Williamson is co-founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). CFFC is an organization of atheists and humanists. They focus on the separation of church and state and building a thriving secular community in the Greater Orlando area and across Florida. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Freethought Equality Fund, is secretary of the Florida Humanist Association, and is co-coordinator of the FHA’s conference FREEFLO. He is a Humanist Celebrant.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

March 17, 2018

Astonish the World!
Tell the Simple Truth

Leader: Joseph Simonetta

This presentation based on Joseph Simonetta’s book, 7 Words That Can Change The World

Part I

  1. Cosmology: The origin and structure of the universe
  2. Evolutionary biology: How long this planet, life, and we have been here; what life has been through to get this far
  3. The world of religions: Where have they have come from and why

Part II
Why we advance easily technologically but not so socially, politically and intellectually. Why we continue to destroy each other and our environment.

  1. The architecture of life: A nonreligious understanding of sacredness
  2. Competing sets of survival instincts: They produce opposing world views that account for the epic struggle that goes on daily for the evolution and survival of humanity

Biographical information:  Joseph Simonetta holds a B.S. in Business Logistics from Penn State University, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Colorado, a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. He also studied at Yale Divinity School.  He has been an Army officer, professional athlete, entrepreneur and businessman, architectural designer, real estate developer, home builder, environmental activist, author, senior editor of the World Business Academy, twice a nominee for the U.S. Congress, and once a nominee for the U.S. presidency (Democratic Party National Convention, New York City, 1992).
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

April 21, 2018

Paul Kurtz:
The Secular Humanist

Leader: Rod Broker

Nonreligious people are sometimes accused of not believing in anything. But the philosophy of life called Secular Humanism proves that assumption wrong and prejudicial.  In this presentation, we take a closer look at Secular Humanism by examining the life and teaching of Paul Kurtz (1925 – 2012), who once said:

“The beginning of wisdom is the awareness that there is insufficient evidence that a god or gods have created us and the recognition that we are responsible in part for our own destiny.”

Biographical information:  In addition to his in-depth knowledge of the topic, Rod Broker brings the unique perspective of a world traveler, HNCFL Board member, Apple computer whiz and retired Lutheran minister.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

May 19, 2018

Reverence for Life?
Unwanted Dogs, Cats and Horses in Marion County

Leader: Robert Echols, JD, MBA

Unwanted dogs, cats and horses presents a disturbing dilemma in Marion County. Attend this presentation to discover the breadth of the problem and what can be done to solve it.

Biographical information:  Robert Echols lives in Ocala and serves as president and founder of the For Our Friends the Animals Foundation. It is a nonprofit entity designed to provide financial support through grant awards to animal rescues, shelters and sanctuaries, and to like-minded institutions. The Foundation also provides grants to local entities such as Project Pup that donates pet food to Meals on Wheels recipients. The Foundation is based on the concept of “reverence for life,” as said by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. It focuses primarily on combating cruel and abusive treatment of animals. The Foundation’s website is Mr. Echols received his B.A. from New York University and his J.D./M.B.A. from Emory University.  He served in the Army as an enlisted man from 1973 to 1976.
Register online or at the door, or call (352) 861-9751.

Humanists of North Central Florida (HNCFL) in Ocala welcomes your interest. Join the conversation by clicking here.

Past Secular Conversations

Ibram Kendi-MasterPoss

Ibram X Kendi, PhD discussing his 2016 National Book Award winning book, “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”

Hassan Shibly MasterPoss

Attorney Hassan Shibly, director of the Council on American & Islamic Relations

Rev Leroy Chandler

The Rev. Leroy Chandler honors Juneteenth, in his presentation, “Slave Ships Emerge in American Cities.”