“The Queen’s Gambit” is the most popular series that Netflix has ever produced — and deservedly so. It is a beautifully and meticulously crafted production and tells a most unusual and intriguing story. Based on a novel written in the 1980s, it takes place in the 1950s and early 60s and tells the story of a girl who is orphaned, deeply traumatized, yet reveals herself to be a chess genius. The protagonist, Beth Harmon, is driven, lonely, and inscrutable, yet fascinating. There is irony in a woman becoming a champion in a world populated exclusively by men. But “The Queen’s Gambit” is more than the story of a young woman. It surprises us by upending stereotyped assumptions we are accustomed to make about women, men, and the world in which there may be more goodness to be found than we often assume. I will speak about the social messages this marvelous series conveys, that I found ironic, uplifting, indeed liberating.
Of the very many addresses I have given, I have based very few on specific books and never on a television series. This talk is an exception. If you haven’t seen “The Queen’s Gambit,” I strongly recommend you do—but I warn you, in this talk there will be many spoilers.
Dr. Joe Chuman recently retired as the Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, a community he served beginning in 1974. Since 2008, he has been a part-time Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. As an activist, Dr. Chuman has worked on behalf of human rights and civil liberties and in opposition to the death penalty, as well as on many other progressive causes. He founded the Northern New Jersey group of Amnesty International in 1974, and currently serves as president of the Bergen County Sanctuary for Asylum Seekers, founded by the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County. This coalition of religious and human rights organizations provides services for asylum seekers released from federal detention.
Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest. Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day. While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public. Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.
To view previous Sunday Platform addresses and interviews, visit the Ethical NYC YouTube channel.