Last Sunday’s Platform (Dec 1) opened with the installation of two new members into our community, Ruth Olsen and Alpana Sikder. Welcome, Ruth and Alpana, your presence will enrich our congregation and we look forward to getting to know you both even better.
This being the first Sunday of the month the Bergen Society’s Leader, Joe Chuman, spoke. One of the concerns of Ethical Culture is what it means to lead a “good” life and Joe talked about how the humanist psychologist Eric Fromm’s work inspired him to take the path he chose in life, leading him to become an Ethical Culture Leader. Joe’s talk was titled, “The Thinker Who Inspired Me Most and His Relevance for Today”
Eric Fromm, who died in 1980, had a theory of personality that was based on the need for freedom, belonging and love. Among his most influential works was his book, The Art of Loving, which proposed that the ability to love can be cultivated and that love of self as well as of others is necessary for a healthy life. Fromm believed that the purpose of one’s life should be to live to the fullest, always engaged with one’s community and doing work that is an expression of one’s most vital self.
To the young Joe Chuman, whose mother died when he was 12 and who had an austere, distant father, Fromm’s theories had a gripping effect and helped lay out his direction towards growth and fullness.
“Taking this humanistic philosophy and world view to heart, I sought out a life vocation that would be most faithful to it, and so I discovered Ethical Culture as an expression of Fromm’s humanism, and decided to dedicate myself to Ethical leadership as a fulfillment of his philosophy of work. I can think of no line of work that is a more faithful instantiation of his thought. I am an Ethical Culture leader because of the Erich Fromm philosophy that I imbibed when I was 16—and I have no regrets.”
You can read Joe’s full address here