Platform Speaker

Laura Steele

Musical Accompanist

Joshua Rich


about 40

Sample Worshipper Dress

lime-green shirt, white pants, braided-leather belt

Crystal Drone Bowls


Congregational Fervor

Once the congregation had been sufficiently centered by tones from the Ethical Society’s crystal drone bowl, Rich took a seat behind the piano and opened the service with a jazzy rendition of Muppet classic “The Rainbow Connection.” Not that Rich was limited to standards—his original composition “Connection” reinforced the afternoon’s theme with lyrics that decried the impersonal nature of the Information Age: “So now we have it all/Machines with total recall/On our cell phones at the mall,” Rich sang, before arriving at the big chorus: “I want to be connected!” HHHHH

Food for the Soul

To cap her lecture on human connection, platform speaker Laura Steele asked the congregation to rise and participate in an activity called an “energy circle.” While holding hands in a big circle, congregants were asked to squeeze their neighbor’s hand when their own was tugged on. The pulse of human energy apparently only went one way, however. When Steele unexpectedly switched the circle’s direction, it confused congregation members, resulting in an unacceptably long energy-lap time.HHHHH

Food for the Body

Rich’s appetizing closing song asked the listener to remember a time “when the clouds could be ice cream.” Although the following coffee hour did not include any Ben & Jerry’s, a few reasonable substitutes were offered, including bagels, doughnuts, muffins, and corned-beef hash. HHHHH

Overall Worship Power

At the back of the Ethical Society’s lobby sits a display case holding a scale model of proposed building expansions and renovations. Visitors shouldn’t get too excited, though—it might be a while before the WES is able to make the financial connections necessary for its balsa-wood dreams to become concrete. “The construction prices have just gone up so much; they’re trying to figure out how much we can still get for our money,” explained one congregation member. “I think they call it ‘value engineering.’”HHHHH

—Aaron Leitko