As most of the country—and much of the world, for that matter-- gets wrapped up in Christmas (both literally and figuratively), what’s a self-respecting humanist or atheist to do? For starters, you can lift your spirit with some timely perspective from historical maven and educator, JB Andersen, who will discuss the origins of religion and holidays at our upcoming December meeting. He will review the major Ages of Humanity delineating the movement from magical to religious to secular thinking.
The presentation will cover how religion is an outgrowth of agricultural societies and specifically how Christmas and all holidays are rooted in astronomy—not Christianity. Andersen will also discuss how we might navigate our way through the current transition toward a more secular age in light of the heavy backlash from the religious right. And finally, he will have us consider what values from the magic and religious ages are worth preserving. In particular, in this “season of giving,” is there any common ground to be found in our culture among the universal human traits of altruism and giving?
JB Andersen, a life-long educator, has worked at both secondary and higher educational institutions for the past 40 years. His academic background is interdisciplinary combining history and psychology and he has authored numerous books and articles. While currently retired, he continues to teach one class, A History of the United States Presidency, at the U of MN’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.