- Book Discussion "Accidental Gods" by Anna Della SubinWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for December is Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine by Anna Della Subin.
A provocative history of men who were worshipped as gods that illuminates the connection between power and religion and the role of divinity in a secular age
In a revelatory history spanning five centuries, a cast of surprising deities helps to shed light on the thorny questions of how our modern concept of “religion” was invented; why religion and politics are perpetually entangled in our supposedly secular age; and how the power to call someone divine has been used and abused by both oppressors and the oppressed.
“Subin doesn't cover Q-Anon or January 6, but reading her account of the global and historical power of the irrational, I became more and more convinced I might be reading the year's most relevant book about American politics.” – Tom Scocca, Air Mail
- Winter Solstice Celebration & Annual Meeting!USNH, Hamden, CT
It's that time again for our traditional solstice POTLUCK DINNER with live music provided by Mickey Koth and John Kalinowski!
Please bring a dish to share.
There will be a short Annual Meeting, primarily for the election of the Board.
We'll have a Solstice Quiz, and Frank Avitable will do the annual reading of Lois Woodrow’s “Ode to the Tilt”.
You will have an opportunity to pay your Membership dues, both for 2023, if you have not yet paid, and for 2024; please bring a check or cash. Nina Stein, our Treasurer, will be ready to collect!
Let’s get together and CELEBRATE!
- Annual Brunch at Pacific Buffet & GrillPacific Buffet & Grill, Wallingford, CT
Enjoy our year-end brunch with other humanists! We're returning to the buffet restaurant in Wallingford that we have met at in the past, Pacific Buffet & Grill (https://pacificbuffetandgrill.com/). Come out and socialize with friends on a day when most of the country is closed. Occasionally people will decide to follow this event with a movie.
- Book Discussion "Poverty, by America" by Matthew DesmondWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for January is Poverty, by America by sociologist Matthew Desmond.
The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages?
In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty…Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem.
“Desmond’s book makes an urgent and unignorable appeal to our national conscience, one that has been quietly eroded over decades of increasing personal consumption and untiring corporate greed.” – Claire Messud, Harper’s
- Book Discussion "Invisible Man" by Ralph EllisonWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for February, Black History Month, is Ralph Ellison's classic Invisible Man.
Note: This discussion will be on the 4th Saturday of the month due to the Presidents' Day closure of the library.
Invisible Man is Ralph Ellison's first novel, published…in 1952. It addresses many of the social and intellectual issues faced by African Americans in the early 20th century, including Black Nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.
Invisible Man won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953, making Ellison the first African-American writer to win the award. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Invisible Man 19th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
"A book of the very first order, a superb book ...it is tragicomic, poetic, the tone of the very strongest sort of creative intelligence." – Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow
- Book Discussion "Humanly Possible" by Sarah BlakewellWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for March is Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Blakewell.
Voyaging from the literary enthusiasts of the fourteenth century to the secular campaigners of our own time,... Bakewell brings together extraordinary humanists across history. She explores their immense variety: some sought to promote scientific and rationalist ideas, others put more emphasis on moral living, and still others were concerned with the cultural and literary studies known as “the humanities.” Humanly Possible asks not only what brings all these aspects of humanism together but why it has such enduring power, despite opposition from fanatics, mystics, and tyrants.
[A]t a moment when we are all too conscious of the world’s divisions, Humanly Possible – brimming with ideas, experiments in living, and respect for the deepest ethical values – serves as a re-centering, a call to care for one another, and a reminder that we are all, together, only human.
“Engagingly written as well as richly informative . . . every thinker, every book, every movement is located lightly and precisely in relation to its past and its influence on the present day. I can’t imagine a better history of humanism, nor one that is so vividly persuasive.” – Philip Pullman, author His Dark Materials trilogy
- Book Discussion "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Nikos KazantzakisWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for April is The Last Temptation of Christ, the controversial novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.
The Last Temptation of Christ (or The Last Temptation) is a historical novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in its original Greek in 1955 before being translated into English in 1960. The novel depicts the life of Jesus and his struggles with various forms of temptation, including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance, and lust.
Upon its publication, the book was condemned by the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church; it has since been challenged by numerous Christian groups and conservative organizations. The 1988 film adaptation directed by Martin Scorsese was similarly controversial.
“Kazantzakis struggled mightily to find truth in the fiction of the Gospels. The truth he sought eluded him… The most prominent truth…is one he would likely be loath to own; the truth told by his fiction is that the Gospels are a fiction.” – Stephen R. Welch, Free Inquiry
- Book Discussion "American Midnight" by Adam HochschildWilson Branch Library, New Haven, CT
Our book for May is American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis by Adam Hichschild.
The nation was on the brink. Mobs burned Black churches to the ground. Courts threw thousands of people into prison for opinions they voiced. Self-appointed vigilantes executed tens of thousands of citizens' arrests. Some seventy-five newspapers and magazines were banned from the mail and forced to close. When the government stepped in, it was often to fan the flames.
This was America during and after the Great War: a brief but appalling era blighted by lynchings, censorship, and the sadistic, sometimes fatal abuse of conscientious objectors in military prisons – a time whose toxic currents of racism, nativism, red-baiting, and contempt for the rule of law then flowed directly through the intervening decades to poison our own.
“A harrowing portrait of America in 1917–21, rife with racist violence, xenophobia and political repression abetted by the federal government. The book serves as a cautionary tale and a provocative counterpoint to our own era.” – New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice