Reinventing Thanksgiving- Counting Our Blessings- and Seeing Reality

Thanksgiving is a holiday rife with problems- historical revisionism, and denial, not to mention bizarre fetishistic overeating and gallinaceous debauchery.  In addition to nausea, the most common response to Thanksgiving among progressives is to both debunk and challenge the skewed narrative.

But because, Thanksgiving is not going away anytime soon, in addition to challenging the story line and presumptions attendant to Thanksgiving, an additional line of attack should involve a fundamental reinvention of the holiday- as a holiday that would actually diminish our arrogant jingoistic tendencies, and become a part of our efforts to create a culture which promotes progressive values and conveys naturalistic wisdom.

Building on the idea central to its name, Thanksgiving has potential to offer intrinsic humanistic value by reminding and inspiring us to practice what has in recent years been simply described as “gratitude.”  The evidence seems undeniable- engaging in activities which broaden our sense of gratitude has huge consequences for our emotional health and overall sense of happiness.

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Special Re-airing of an Interview with Alfie Kohn

Beyond the majority of narrow faith-based and traditional thinking about want motivates humans to learn about, and contribute to the world around them, what we find is that much of the way we presently educate and raise our children is based on beliefs that are simply false.

The traditional beliefs upon which we’ve built our entire system of education assume that unless children are threatened and/or bribed into learning they would never become able to contribute what society needs from them. The evidence however challenges this cynical view and suggests that human beings are natural learners born with an intrinsic drive to know their world around them and to contribute to it.

Despite this, in schools and homes everywhere, teachers and parents utilize ever intensifying extrinsic means of motivation – punishments and rewards – such as high stakes testing and cash incentives. The consequence of using such tactics is that we are disconnecting children from their natural inclination to be curious about their world – and greatly diminishing their chances of ever experiencing one of the most important benchmarks of living a fulfilling life – the life long joy of loving to learn.

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“After Atheism… Humanism?”

In ‘After Atheism,’ Mark Vernon confronts the lust for certainty found in the dogmatism of conservative religion and militant science. He believes that a committed even passionate agnosticism is vital for the future of our planet and our souls. But how can you be an agnostic and why does it matters? The key to wisdom, Socrates said, is understanding one’s own ignorance. A similar thought lies at the heart of all good theology, since God is nothing if not unknown.

Teach Yourself Humanism‘ is a comprehensive guide to an important and diverse philosophy. Generally seeking to define itself not as a negative response to religion but as a practical and ethical way of life focusing on common human needs and seeking rational ways of solving human problems, this book will delve into the history and development of humanist thought and address the many questions that surround humanism today. Why is humanism important? Is it possible to ‘believe’ in humanism after Auschwitz? What implications does humanist thought have on our society as a whole and the way in which it is structured? How does humanism deal with birth, marriage and death?

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Contemplating the infinite; while firmly committed to defeating our bias, knowing ourselves and our universe through an evidence based lens- No one’s ever conveyed these essential ideas, more powerfully than the late Dr. Carl Sagan.

For 20 years Ann Druyan was married to astronomer Carl Sagan, and was a full partner in his mission to make science understandable and exciting for everyone. She was one of the writers for the television series Cosmos, and a producer of the feature film Contact. Ann Druyan is the CEO and co-founder of Cosmos Studios.

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Part 2 of 2 of “Beyond the ‘New Atheism’: Religion and Politics Worldwide” w/ Ronald Inglehart and David Sloan Wilson

For this discussion, we were joined by social scientist Ronald Inglehart and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson. Part one aired on October 16th and can be viewed and listened to here.