Until further notice. all FreeThinker Book Club meetings will be held online using ZOOM videoconferencing. To join the meeting click here.
if you don’t have the Zoom client installed, you will be asked for permission to install the client from ZOOM.us
Give yourself an extra few minutes to get set up the system. If this is your first online session with ZOOM, we recommend you click in anytime from 10-15 minutes before 7:00 PM so as to be ready for the start, depending on your comfort level with the technology.
Oct. 30 2019
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Nov. 27 2019
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Jan. 29 2020
Justice - What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel
Feb. 26, 2020
Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions edited by Susan Tive & Cami Ostman
Beyond Belief addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) and Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they’ve all experienced and rejected extreme religions.
Covering a wide range of religious communities- including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah’s Witness- and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres ( Jesus Land ), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these women became involved, what their lives were like, and why they came to the decision to eventually abandon their faiths.
The authors shed a bright light on the rigid expectations and misogyny so often built into religious orthodoxy, yet they also explain the lure- why so many women are attracted to these lifestyles, what they find that’s beautiful about living a religious life, and why leaving can be not only very difficult but also bittersweet.
Mar. 25 2020
How the West Really Lost God: A new theory of secularization by Mary Eberstadt
In this magisterial work, leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt delivers a powerful new theory about the decline of religion in the Western world.
The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshalling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows that the reverse has also been true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.
Drawing on sociology, history, demography, theology, literature, and many other sources, Eberstadt shows that family decline and religious decline have gone hand in hand in the Western world in a way that has not been understood before–that they are, as she puts it in a striking new image summarizing the book’s thesis, “the double helix of society, each dependent on the strength of the other for successful reproduction.”
In sobering final chapters, Eberstadt then lays out the enormous ramifications of the mutual demise of family and faith in the West. While it is fashionable in some circles to applaud the decline both of religion and the nuclear family, there are, as Eberstadt reveals, enormous social, economic, civic, and other costs attendant on both declines.
Her conclusion considers this tantalizing question: whether the economic and demographic crisis now roiling Europe and spreading to America will have the inadvertent result of reviving the family as the most viable alternative to the failed welfare state–fallout that could also lay the groundwork for a religious revival as well.
How the West Really Lost God is both a startlingly original account of how secularization happens and a sweeping brief about why everyone should care. A book written for agnostics as well as believers, atheists as well as “none of the above,” it will permanently change the way every reader understands the two institutions that have hitherto under-girded Western civilization as we know it–family and faith–and the real nature of the relationship between those two pillars of history.
Apr. 29 2020
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader. But it’s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes making natural play a crime.
As children’s connections to nature diminish and the social, psychological, and spiritual implications become apparent, new research shows that nature can offer powerful therapy for such maladies as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that childhood experiences in nature stimulate creativity.
In Last Child in the Woods , Louv talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, child-development researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions. Louv shows us an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world more deeply–and find the joy of family connectedness in the process.
May 27, 2020 Freethinker-Reads - Books for next year
May 27 – Make a Pitch for next year’s Freethinkers’ reads. We hope each of us will come with a book to pitch for the coming year. If we meet the same number of times next year as this year, we need to select 6 titles. I hope we will have more than 6 pitches ( pitch in eh!)
For your pitch – try to check access – public library, cost, audio and e-reader etc. It is really fun to read reviews (for or against your pitch on Goodreads.co. Of course it also helps to read the book, but as other nights- not necessary!