FRANKLIN — On Sunday, Miners Hall Museum will host a special program, “An Unappreciated Skeptic: Emanuel Haldeman-Julius and Religion,” presented by Pittsburg State University Professor of Philosophy Don Viney. The free event will be at 2 p.m. at the museum. People are encouraged to call the museum in advance so the museum can plan for adequate seating.
The program is being presented in conjunction with the special quarterly exhibit “Little Blue Books 100 Years!” hosted by Linda Knoll.
Viney will focus on two topics when it comes to Haldeman-Julius, the famous Girard publisher of the Little Blue Books series in the early 1900s. These include his “dismissal of religion” and his “skepticism that comes out of religious ideas.”
“I’m going to focus on those two kinds of ideas in my talk, and so there will be both some appreciation of Haldeman-Julius and his own ideas, and as well as some criticism of what he did,” Viney said. “I don’t always agree but I kind of admire him for what he did.”
During the presentation Viney will also share about Haldeman-Julius’ life because it can help people better understand his point of view, Viney said.
For part of his presentation, Viney will pull from a paper he submitted to a special issue of the Midwest Quarterly which mimics what a Little Blue Book would look like but a bit bigger. The special edition, titled, The Little Blue Books at 100 isa “celebration of his publishing enterprise and the things that he did.”
“It’s a nice issue, I’m pretty proud of it,” Viney said, adding that people from all over the world submitted copy for the issue.
One topic of discussion on Sunday will include the Scopes Monkey Trial, which had to do with teaching evolution in schools. Haldeman-Julius was there for the trial in the “front row seat,'' Viney said. Marcet Haldeman-Julilus, Haldeman-Julius’ wife, wrote an article when she got back.
To Viney, one of the most notable things about Haldeman-Julius was providing public education through his publications.
“From his early days he was interested in educating himself, and he gets the idea fairly early on that you could print these little books at an inexpensive price and help educate the public,” Viney said. “While I won’t be focusing on that in my talk, I view that as one of his single contributions in history.
“I find him important for the critical assessment of religion, that’s kind of my topic of my talk, but he’s also important for this publishing venture. He connects us here in this little corner of the world with the larger currents of history.”