Meeting Report by Popular Demand

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Meeting Report by Popular Demand

Post by johnkarls »

Several of our Reading Liberally regular attendees who were unable to attend the 12/11/2013 meeting and quite a few of the recipients of our weekly Reading Liberally e-mail who live around the world have requested a report of what happened at the meeting.

This is the first time there has been such a widespread request. But there is always a first time for everything.


1. Fern Lovett Baird – Real Estate Broker (as distinguished from a Real Estate Agent) – and Expert Skier.

2. Denise Chancellor – Recently-retired Assistant Utah Attorney General for Environmental Matters (and Expert Skier)

3. Thomas Chancellor (and husband of Denise Chancellor) – Retired University of Utah Law School Professor (and Expert Skier)

4. Rev. J. Keith Cupples – Retired Minister from the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church who will momentarily be coming out of retirement to become the 18-month Interim Minister of a troubled church in the North Texas UMC Conference (Keith is NOT a skier, but he was an Honorable Mention All-American football player for SMU 1966-1969 and, indeed, the national Phi Gamma Delta Magazine for his fraternity claimed he was an actual All-American which he jokingly attributes to the Fiji’s having their own All-American poll).

5. Dr. Ted Gurney – Retired University of Utah Biology Professor (and retired Expert Skier)

6. Dr. Tucker Gurney (and wife of Ted Gurney) – Retired University of Utah Biology Professor (and retired Expert Skier)

7. John Karls – Self-Proclaimed Expert Skier

8. Nancy Kemp – Assistant Utah Attorney General for Civil Appeals (Skiing Expertise/History Unknown)

9. Bill Lee – Artist and Art Dealer, and Moving Force in the SLC Atheists’ Society though he claims to be only an agnostic (and retired Expert Skier)

10. Dr. Hugh Paik – Retired Pathologist who was the Medical Officer of a South Korean Army Unit fighting in the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s, though shortly thereafter Hugh became an American citizen and spent his career as a Pathologist in the U.S. (Hugh is an Expert Skier).


Reading Liberally always celebrates its anniversary during its December meetings.

Per tradition, we celebrated with a carrot cake since it is the favorite cake of Nancy Kemp and Bill Lee.

But, NOT per tradition, Nancy Kemp and Bill Lee for the first time in our history refused to take home any carrot-cake leftovers!!!


The attendees of our 12/11/2013 meeting voted for “Magnificent Delusions” as the book on which we would focus for our 1/8/2014 meeting.


We met in the home of Denise and Thomas Chancellor who were gracious in offering their hospitality because of restrictions on public showings of our After Tiller DVD, since After Tiller is still in movie-theater distribution.

[We usually meet at the Salt Lake Public Library with the only previous exceptions comprising meeting at the home of the Gurneys several years ago when Ted was convalescing after a coma suffered following a fall from his garden wall.]


Disclaimer = the following comprise the salient points from the perspective of Yours Truly (Reading Liberally Facilitator acting as Ad Hoc Secretary) but other participants may have different recollections of the discussion on the same points and may have different opinions on what additional points should be considered important.

There was considerable discussion of the movie, After Tiller, which was shown immediately before our regular 7:00 – 9:00 pm discussion time.

For example, the third-trimester-abortion method comprising as its first step a lethal injection to the heart of the fetus so that natural childbirth, albeit of a dead fetus, would maximize the chances of no adverse consequences for the health of the mother or her ability to have children in the future.

And the differences among the 4 remaining third-term-abortion practitioners following the assassination of Dr. George Tiller regarding the pre-requisites for which they will perform a third-term abortion. The movie began with interviews of women for whom tests revealed serious fetal abnormalities only during the third trimester and of a woman who had been raped but couldn’t bring herself to abort the fetus until the third trimester. And included several interviews of Dr. Hern of Denver CO, one of which contained his view that he would perform a third-trimester abortion for anyone regardless of “how good a story she was able to tell” because of his fear of what the woman would otherwise do, citing a case in which he was involved and in which the woman botched a self abortion with a Chinese-restaurant chop stick. Toward the end of the movie, one of the other three third-term-abortion practitioners is shown rejecting requests from women in their third term who, the practitioner frets, might merely have been unable “to tell a good story” (one of the women she rejects was in her 35th week, but the practitioner did recommend that the woman contact Dr. Hern).

In considering the rights, if any, of the father, Tucker Gurney told a sad story involving her late brother. He did not even know that a woman with whom he had been having a relationship was pregnant. Several years later, he heard rumors that she had been pregnant and moved away to have her baby in seclusion following which she put the baby up for adoption. Since he was not even able to verify the rumors and since he didn’t think it appropriate to interfere with an adoption which, if real, had already been underway for several years, he did not attempt to track down his child. The child and the adoption were real as Tucker and Ted discovered when their biological niece was in her 30’s and attempted to track down Tucker’s brother, but he had already passed away by that time. The niece reported that she had also tried to track down Tucker’s brother when she was a teenager (Tucker’s brother was still alive at that time), but the adoption agency had misspelled the last name of Tucker’s brother which prevented their niece (his daughter) from tracking him down at that time which, of course, meant that she never was able to meet him.

Thomas Chancellor, demonstrating his skill as a law-school professor, then framed the discussion as the point in time that each participant thought a fetus should begin receiving legal protection.

In this regard, it was noted that the US Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade found that under English-American common law which had NEVER treated abortion as a crime (it was only criminalized in the late 1800’s by statute), there were virtually no cases in which fetuses were recognized as human beings and accorded legal rights before birth.

[The Roe v. Wade decision did, however, permit each of the states to begin regulating abortion following fetal viability which generally comprises the third trimester, including outright bans in the third trimester.]

Also with regard to Thomas’ framing of the issue, it was noted that in his criminal trial, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted in May 2013 on, inter alia, 3 of the 8 murder charges for which the District Attorney thought he could convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that 8 of the babies whose spinal cords he had snipped following delivery would have survived or been viable (Dr. Gosnell did NOT follow the practice of Dr. Tiller and his colleagues of killing the fetus before delivery with a lethal injection to the heart), but was only able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that 3 of the 8 would have survived if they hadn’t been killed following birth, however premature.

It was noted in our RL meeting, therefore, that the Pennsylvania law employed in the Gosnell trial did comport with the US Supreme Court’s analysis of the history of abortion that fetuses are not usually accorded any legal protection unless they are actually born alive. Though the Pennsylvania law did appear to require fetal viability in addition to a live birth. It was also noted that none of us was aware of whether the Pennsylvania law regarding murder was statutory or was English-American common law.

When Legal Protection for Potential Life Should Commence

With regard to one extreme of the issue framed by Thomas, nearly everyone remarked simultaneously about the abortion ban (and indeed the ban on birth control) imposed by the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).

And, since nobody immediately began defending the life-begins-at-conception position, nearly everyone began lamenting that there seemed to be nobody available to defend that extreme.

Whereupon Rev. J. Keith Cupples rose to the occasion!!!

By way of background, Rev. Cupples has been a Reading Liberally regular for the last 18 months while living with his sister in Utah following his retirement as a minister from the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. [And he will be returning 1/1/2014 to the North Texas Conference to assume an 18-month assignment as Interim Minister of a troubled United Methodist Church.]

Also by way of background, the United Methodist Church has, since 1972, condoned abortion provided: (1) it is legal in the jurisdiction in which it occurs, (2) proper medical procedures are employed, (3) parental notification is required for minors, (4) abortion is not a means of gender selection, (5) abortion does not comprise “late-term abortion” (aka “partial birth abortion”); and (6) thoughtful and prayerful consideration is employed and is accompanied with medical, family, pastoral and other appropriate counsel.

However, this UMC position is NOT binding on individual Methodists or individual UMC ministers but is only the recommendation of the top 1,000 worldwide UMC clergy and worldwide UMC non-clergy church leaders who attend the quadrennial General Conferences that govern the worldwide UMC.

Since the UMC position is NOT mandatory, Keith embraces the RCC ban on abortion.

[Additional detail concerning all of this background information is contained in e-mail correspondence between Keith and Yours Truly that has been posted on in the Suggested Discussion Outline Section for the 12/11/2013 meeting -- all of which is also contained in a separate attachment to our weekly 12/14/2013 e-mail to our approximately 150 members to which this report is also being attached since this report is also being posted on]

Keith immediately quoted two sentences from the UMC position statement “out of context” in order to make it appear that the UMC agrees with the RCC ban on abortion.

Yours Truly immediately called everyone’s attention to the 6 UMC conditions for condoning abortion. They were printed on the second page of the Suggested Discussion Outline which had been distributed. Yours Truly then pointed out that none of the 6 conditions would have been necessary if the UMC had supported the RCC’s outright ban on abortion.

Keith graciously conceded that the UMC condones abortion while permitting individual UMC congregants and pastors to believe abortion is a sin.

Thomas Chancellor immediately asked Keith whether he would protect potential human life even before conception by requiring human sperm to be given legal protection.

Since Yours Truly and Rev. Cupples know each other so well and since Yours Truly could sense that Rev. Cupples was about, in all seriousness, to provide an affirmative answer to what Thomas Chancellor had thought was a rhetorical question, Yours Truly intervened with an even more extreme example for Rev. Cupples to consider.

Yours Truly noted that there have been numerous news reports during the last year that scientists have succeeded in creating clones from normal cells that are NOT stem cells so that it will not be long before scientists are able to clone human beings from, for example, a skin cell of another human being. [NB: as we studied several years ago, cloning human beings is illegal in many countries.]

Accordingly Yours Truly inquired whether Rev. Cupples would treat Yours Truly as a sinner if he scratched a mosquito bite in the near future after science has become capable of creating clones from the skin cells of Yours Truly that he would destroy if he scratched his mosquito bite.

Rev. Cupples smiled and intoned an intentionally-ironic affirmative answer with his trademark twinkle in his eye that indicates when he is surrendering.

So Yours Truly did not have an excuse to pose his follow-up question of whether all of the millions of potential John Karls clones that could be created from his skin cells would in fact have to be created, and who was going to pay for all that!!!

When Abortion Rights Should Terminate

With respect to the other extreme posed by Thomas Chancellor, there was no consensus with some participants drawing the line at fetal viability while other participants drew the line at live birth accompanied by fetal viability.

However, Yours Truly could sense that Bill Lee was not entirely satisfied with the discussion.

So, knowing that Bill’s mother who is in her 90’s is still alive and that Bill visits her in Seattle several times per year in his travels to acquire art that he can re-sell in SLC, Yours Truly facetiously asked Bill how much it was worth to him for his mother NOT to be apprised that she still has the legal right to snip Bill’s spinal cord.

The twinkle in Bill’s eye indicated he was surrendering even though he intoned the intentionally-ironic answer that he would check his bank account balance to see how large a bribe he could afford.

Miscellaneous Matters

(1) Catholics on the US Supreme Court

Until 1916, all US Supreme Court justices had been male WASP’s (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Louis Brandeis began occupying in 1916 what became known as “The Jewish Seat.” Thurgood Marshall was the first African American justice in 1967. And Sandra Day O’Conner became the first female justice in 1981.

Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, Republican Presidents have been appointing Roman Catholics to the US Supreme Court in order to increase the chances that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Currently, 6 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices are Roman Catholic (the other 3 are Jewish).

Ironically, one of the 6 RCC Justices was appointed by President Obama who wanted to appoint the first Latino to the Court (Sonia Sotomayor) and he apparently found it difficult to find a Latino who was not Catholic.

During the discussion of this topic, Yours Truly contributed the historical tidbit (of which nobody else seemed to be aware) that when the Senate Democrats were set to filibuster George W. Bush’s nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts on the grounds that his wife had been the long-time head of the RCC’s largest and most-influential anti-abortion lobbying organization, the reason why the filibuster fizzled was that the de facto leader of the Senate Democrats in 2005 was Roman Catholic Ted Kennedy who announced that it would be improper for Democrats to filibuster the nomination of a Roman Catholic because of the views of the nominee’s Roman Catholic wife.

(2) JFK’s Houston Speech and Cardinal O’Connor vs. NY Gov. Mario Cuomo

The immediately-preceding topic segued nicely into the issue of whether Roman Catholics should be elected or appointed to governmental positions if they are vulnerable to taking orders from the RCC on pain of excommunication.

Especially when the American media are constantly railing against the adoption of Islamic Law (aka Sharia) in majority-Muslim countries!!!

And we constantly see RCC positions, such as the RCC’s views on abortion, being reflected in American legislation.

In this regard, there was distributed at our meeting with the Suggested Discussion Outline the essay entitled “JFK’s Houston Speech and Cardinal O’Connor vs. NY Gov. Mario Cuomo” which is posted in the “Suggested Discussion Outline” Section of

It noted that JFK’s 9/12/1960 speech to the Convention of the Greater Houston Baptist Ministerial Association in which he promised NOT to take orders from the Roman Catholic Church in discharging his public duties was/is generally credited with providing cover for the American media to attack as “politically incorrect” anyone questioning whether JFK should be elected President because of his Catholicism. And, because the election was so close, the speech is also credited with his being elected.

The posted essay also includes the 6/15/1990 NY Times article which chronicled how the NYC RCC Cardinal O’Connor had been, FOR 6 YEARS (!!!), threatening NYS Gov. Mario Cuomo with excommunication for his continuing support of abortion funding in NYS Medicaid legislation and chronicled on actual sanctions taken by the RCC against other Catholic politicians.

NB: To his credit, Gov. Mario Cuomo (who is the father of current NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo) stood his ground and, so far as is known, was not excommunicated.

(3) RCC Opposition to Obamacare Because of Abortion

NB: It is noted that for several years, President Obama publicly embraced on many occasions the moniker Obamacare and it has only been since the 10/1/2013 website problems that supporters have reverted to calling it The Affordable Care Act -- enforced by labeling as Racist anyone who continues to call it Obamacare.

We discussed this issue thoroughly, because the RCC has opposed Obamacare on the grounds that RCC individuals and organizations are forced by Obamacare to finance abortion and birth control.

During the course of this discussion, both Thomas Chancellor and Nancy Kemp ridiculed the position of Hobby Lobby Inc. whose appeal the US Supreme Court agreed on 11/26/2013 to hear (it will probably be argued next March).

Hobby Lobby is a corporation whose owners comprise an RCC family which is arguing that Obamacare forces Hobby Lobby to begin providing coverage for abortion and birth control in the healthcare insurance that has always been provided Hobby Lobby employees.

Thomas and Nancy were ridiculing the Hobby Lobby position because Hobby Lobby is a corporation which, according to Thomas and Nancy, should NOT be given freedom-of-religion constitutional rights.

Thomas and Nancy proceeded to rail against the 2010 Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court in according corporations and labor unions First Amendment free-speech rights.

Yours Truly then reminded Thomas and Nancy that when we studied the Citizens United decision, it became clear that (1) some constitutional rights are accorded corporations while others are not, and (2) the problem with denying corporations free-speech rights was the US Supreme Court precedent according the NAACP free-speech rights during the height of the Civil Rights Movement when the NAACP was advertising for oppressed African-Americans to become legal clients of the NAACP in violation of state laws prohibiting the solicitation of legal clients.

Yours Truly then remarked that (1) it should be difficult for the Supreme Court to deny freedom-of-religion to individuals who have incorporated their businesses solely to avoid unlimited legal liability, (2) especially when many of the corporations that provide limited-legal-liability are owned by the RCC, such as hospitals and universities such as Notre Dame which recently re-filed its lawsuit challenging Obamacare.

Yours Truly then remarked that the Obama Administration should also have trouble defending its decision to exempt RCC-owned hospital corporations from providing abortion facilities while attacking other corporations that are owned by the RCC or Catholic individuals for not providing abortions.

Let the record show that Nancy Kemp’s eyes twinkled as she admitted that President Obama’s political decision to exempt RCC Hospital Corporations should undercut his legal position attacking non-hospital corporations owned by the RCC or Catholic individuals.

(4) Rev. J. Keith Cupples vs. Bill Lee

It is noted that during the main portion of the discussion described above when Rev. Cupples was defending the RCC ban on abortion, he accused Bill Lee of refusing to permit Rev. Cupples to practice his religious beliefs even though Rev. Cupples was not refusing to permit Bill Lee to practice his beliefs.

The reason for noting this once more, for the sake of thorough reporting, is that Rev. Cupples raised this issue again in his e-mail that he sent to Yours Truly two days after the meeting (it is posted in the “Suggested Discussion Outline” section of under the title of “Methodist Church Schizophrenic Rather Than Flip Flopping”).

No other meeting participants (including Yours Truly) understood how Bill Lee was allegedly prohibiting Rev. Cupples from preaching his position that abortion is a sin.

And Yours Truly still does not understand how this is true after reading that portion of Rev. Cupples e-mail two days later.

But Yours Truly will not respond to the e-mail on the grounds that All Good Things Must Come To An End, including Reading Liberally discussions.

(5) Papal Infallibility

Q&A-9 answered affirmatively the question - “But isn’t the new position of the United Methodist Church regarding Civil Government trumping Christianity irrelevant for the individual Methodist because the essence of Methodism and many Protestant denominations is that everyone has personal responsibility for her/his actions and cannot hide behind the opinion of a clergy person who might be fallible (unlike, for example, the RCC Pope who is believed by Catholics to be infallible)?”

By way of background, Yours Truly also gabs for several hours every week (this time by telephone) with George Kunath, a close friend since the 1980’s when Yours Truly was Senior International Tax Partner (Technical) for Ernst & Young International and George was our Worldwide Coordinating Tax Partner on Mobil Oil Corporation. We always had lunch each week to discuss Everything Under The Sun until Yours Truly took early retirement from EY and held forth from his Austrian and Utah ski houses while working as an investment banker whose group was based in London (which is when George and I decided to continue our weekly gabbing by telephone).

George is a quintessential Renaissance Man who continues to read incessantly (and even take Continuing Ed courses) about Everything Under The Sun.

However, George is also a devout Roman Catholic and probably knows more about RCC theology than most RCC Cardinals (much less RCC clergy in general).

After Q&A-9 was posted on, George twitted me on the question of Papal Infallibility, pointing out that (1) Papal Infallibility only extends to Papal pronouncements that are labeled “Ex Cathedra” and (2) no Papal pronouncements have been labeled “Ex Cathedra” since 1950.

Although Yours Truly had not been aware of this limitation on the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility, he did point out to George that Q&A-9 only refers to what Catholics believe regarding Papal Infallibility and Yours Truly has always been told by his other Catholic friends that they believe everything a Pope says is infallible.

George had to concede that point.

However, Yours Truly was prepared to discuss this distinction if the topic of Papal Infallibility arose during the course of our 12/11/2013 meeting.

It did not.

Respectfully submitted,

John Karls
RL Facilitator and Ad Hoc Secretary

Site Admin
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:11 pm

Life Commencing With Clone-able Cells And The Number Thereof

Post by Pat »

The foregoing Meeting Report recorded that Rev. J. Keith Cupples, representing the life-begins-at-conception position, was asked by Thomas Chancellor whether pre-conception cells from which human beings can be created are also sacred. Thomas cited by way of example human sperm cells.

Since John Karls could tell that Rev. Cupples was about to answer affirmatively a question that Thomas Chancellor had obviously considered rhetorical, John noted that scientists have announced during the last year that they have been able to create clones from normal cells that are NOT stem cells and inquired whether Rev. Cupples would consider John a sinner if he destroyed normal skin cells by scratching a mosquito bite.

The Purpose of This Posting

The average human being has approximately 1.6 TRILLION skin cells.

Every HOUR, approximately one MILLION skin cells are created by the average human body and approximately one MILLION skin cells are shed.

Accordingly, the Meeting Report reader should appreciate the magnitude of John’s reported follow-up question if Rev. Cupples had answered that scratching a mosquito bite would be a sin – “whether all of the millions of potential John Karls clones that could be created from his skin cells would in fact have to be created, and who was going to pay for all that!!!”

It’s not just the MILLION John Karls clones PER HOUR that would have to be created, and who would bear the expense of their creation and up-bringing.

Because it is obvious that Mother Earth would not be capable, in Malthusian terms, of sustaining such a population explosion. After all, ONE MILLION/HOUR is 8.8 BILLION/YEAR.

Which means that the world’s population would MORE THAN DOUBLE during the first year alone.

And that would be the requirement to keep only John Karls from being a sinner.

Presumably there would be other human beings who would not want to be considered a sinner.

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