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All About Inquiry

"Darwin Made Me Do It: Secular Versus Religious Ethics"
1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10
Main Branch, Tucson-Pima Public Library, 101 N. Stone Ave.
648-7231; 297-9919

You've heard of people "seeing the light" by finding religion. Well, for a lot of secular humanists, it's the reverse--they found the real "light" by rejecting it.

Take D.J. Grothe, for example. Once avidly evangelical, Grothe was turned on to reason and science and soon realized that he didn't believe in God at all. Now, he's one of the most active secular humanists in the country, working as the program director for the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y., the host of the radio show/podcast Point of Inquiry, and the associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine. Perhaps the reason Grothe is such an effective secular humanist is that he's had an insider's experience of the worldview he now opposes.

In any case, Grothe has a lot to teach about questioning dogma, and Southern Arizona's own Center for Inquiry chapter will offer the chance to hear him speak on secular ethics this Sunday. The lecture, according to the press release, will address such eternal questions as: "Can people be good without being religious?" and "Can a secular ethics, based in the sciences, offer solutions (to the world's problems)?" Grothe will add an intriguing twist to his answers by bringing in Darwin's theory of evolution, explaining what, in his opinion, it has to do with morality.

"It's interesting," says Jerry Karches, the program director for Tucson's Center for Inquiry, "to see the path that people have taken, because they've become very familiar with the teachings of various religions, and then they realize that this doesn't make any sense to them. We (secular humanists) feel that there are a lot of people who, given the chance to express themselves without religion, would do that."

So if you consider yourself a free-thinking individual, attend this event, and go all the way. It's an interesting, free opportunity to open your mind. --A.M.


Don Your Gay Apparel

"Holidays in the Old Pueblo" Concert by Reveille
8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9; 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10
Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 Adams St.
304-1758; www.reveillegmc.com

They're here; they're queer, and they're full of holiday cheer. Yes, I'm talking about Reveille, Tucson's gay men's chorus, a group of more than 30 talented local men who've been warming up their vocal chords in preparation for a special holiday concert this weekend.

This year's show will loosely follow a Latino theme, honoring our city's Spanish-speaking community while at the same time preparing the chorus for their upcoming tour of Mexico. The main event will be the first local performance of the famous Argentine mass Misa Criolla in about 10 years, sung by guest tenor Edgar Ramirez of Guadalajara. Other Spanish-language songs will include "El Nacimiento" and "A la Nanita Nana." But there will also be plenty of semi-traditional holiday music for the gringos, like Eric Lane Barnes' "Christmas Cheer" and Larry Moore's famous cantada "The Long Christmas Dinner." And if you're Jewish, don't worry--Reveille does a great rendition of "Boogie Woogie Hanukkah."

Besides being known for their amazing voices and dedication to the community, Reveille is famous for their very entertaining presentations. "This show will have a lot of very serious traditional music," says Linus Lerner, Reveille's Brazilian-born artistic and executive director. "But we always put a spice in (our concerts)." This one, I'm told, will feature a hilarious Christmas cheerleader, and the singers themselves will do a little pep-squad cheering right there in the church.

If the pep-squad thing sounds a little stereotypically gay, don't get the wrong idea--Reveille isn't all about the sexual orientation of their members. In fact, not all of them are gay. "Who cares if you're gay or if you're straight?" declares Lerner. "It's a community chorus. ... People should come because it's a traditional concert, and it's also the most fun concert of the season."

Admission is $15 in advance, and $18 at the door. Families are welcome. --A.M.


Poetry Party

Junky Holiday: A William S. Burroughs Film and Poetry Thing
7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 11
The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
322-5638

If you haven't read the work of William S. Burroughs before, you'd better get started--you'll want to know a little about him by Monday. That's when the Loft will host "Junky Holiday," an event celebrating the life and writing of this opiate-addicted Beat Generation poet and novelist--most famously, the author of Naked Lunch. Not only is Burroughs' work amazing, but his persona is one of the most interesting and entertaining of all 20th-century writers.

"William Burroughs was a true-blue iconoclast," writes Loft program director Jeff Yanc in an e-mail. "(He was) an artist who never seemed to capitulate to trends, opting instead to obsessively delve into areas that were (and still are) often considered controversial or shocking, both in style and content. He was also an artist who very much lived what he ... wrote, which lends his work an exciting aura of authenticity. ... (I)t's kind of thrilling to know that he was actually a junky, and not just a hipster author fabricating a life with his eye on the best-seller list."

The main event of "Junky Holiday" will be a rare 35-millimeter print screening of Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy, a 1989 neo-beat road movie featuring an appearance by Burroughs, who appropriately plays a defrocked junky priest named Father Tom. Then, the Loft will show a collection of short films made by Burroughs and other artists, many of which feature on-screen performances and narration by Burroughs himself. Finally, brave audience members can take part in an open mic reading of their favorite Burroughs works onstage.

Admission is $5, and it's a BYOPP--"Bring Your Own Poetry and Prose"--event. The Loft will have some Burroughs pieces on hand for those who want to read but don't have their own copies. Admission is $5. --A.M.


Wine Wisdom

Wine and Cheese Tasting
3:15 to 4:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9
AJ's Fine Foods, Wine Cellar, 2805 E. Skyline Drive
232-6340; www.ajsfinefoods.com

Does a high IQ imply sophisticated taste in spirits and hors d'oeuvres? This is a question I asked myself when I heard about the wine and cheese tasting at AJ's Fine Foods, hosted once a month by Mensa. I pictured a bunch of smart people standing around with wine glasses and cheese samples, discussing the nuances of flavor using very big words. I don't know--intelligence and fine wine just seemed to go together.

But I've learned this is not necessarily the case. According to Mensa member Cathy Galagher, while Mensans are indeed all very smart people, "intelligence takes many forms, from verbal skills to the sciences, the arts, business, etc. ... As a group, our tastes, dislikes, favorite books, favorite movies (and) favorite shows vary as much as they do for the rest of the population." That is to say, just because someone has superior language-comprehension or problem-solving skills, that doesn't mean he or she is in the know about all things high class. And apparently, lots of Mensans have completely clueless taste buds when it comes to wine.

"This is far from a stuffy, nose-in-the-air experience!" writes Galagher in the Mensa events calendar. "I didn't much care for wine until I started hosting this monthly. So why did I do it? To expand my horizons." That's right--even Mensa members sometimes need a little supplemental education. Especially when there are holiday parties to attend.

The wine and cheese tasting will be led by AJ's wine and cheese masters Kevin and Joe, who will teach participants all about how to taste, smell and rate different wines and cheeses in a friendly and nonthreatening way. The event is open to anyone with $5--Mensa member or not--but reservations are required. --A.M.

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