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The Reason for the Season: Finding Common Ground with JB Andersen

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.

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  • Nathan C.

    It turned out to be an interesting antropologic discussion. Not what I expected, but good nontheless.

    December 19, 2011

  • Bob S.


    December 18, 2011

  • Mike O

    *****Five stars for the people and the fellowship, and ***Three stars for the presentation since the subject matter covered did not too well match the title, would have been more aptly entitled "major transitions in the human experience" or anything else briefly addressed in the material.

    December 18, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Even though I don't think we really covered the title topic, I found the presentation and table talk to be refreshingly thought-provoking and mentally stimulating--sorting through connections of history, anthropology, philosophy, and human experience to try to figure out where we might want to go as humans. I always enjoy psychology that attempts to make these kinds of connections. Thanks to JB

    December 18, 2011

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