Season on Origins – Communal Origins

The Season on Origins
During these six weeks, we remind ourselves who we are by examining the contexts in which we are – our cosmic, biological, historical, social, communal, and individual contexts. We look at ourselves through different lenses and at different scales. We see the world we inhabit as the natural scientist sees it, as the social scientist sees it, and as we as individuals see it. We find our place everywhere, from the vastness of the universe to our own living rooms.

Week 5 – Communal Origins
This week we think about our communities – the relatively small groups of people who define our daily lives. We seek to understand how the people we interact with regularly shape who we are in myriad ways, both positive and negative. We seek to be more intentional about how we relate to these people, to examine what that kind of a relationship means – what it requires of us and what it offers us. We think about how important strong communities are and about how to grow and maintain them. Finally, we seek to expand our notion of community and to draw others into fellowship with us.


● Read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam, a fascinating book on the importance of community.

● Read the transcript of a short talk given by Professor Callum Brown at the University of Glasgow. He conducted extensive interviews and has compiled interesting observations about the people who make up Humanist organizations.

● Explore a new, Humanist community. Here is a great list of local groups which are affiliated with the American Humanist Association. Also well worth checking out is the American Ethical Union’s list of local Ethical Culture Societies. The Sunday Assembly is another great organization with local secular gatherings to look into.

● Expand your notion of community. Listen to this Feakonomics podcast on the sharing economy and reflect on how modern technology connects us to one another, changing who we interact with and how we do it.

● (Re)connect with the community you have. Think about who you interact with regularly (and who you don’t interact with but easily could). Who are these people? Your neighbors, co-workers, co-hobbyists, friends, family, a formal moral community? Do you meet online or in person? Don’t take this de facto community for granted. Be intentional about nourishing it. Get together with old acquaintances or invite new ones to have a meal. Breaking bread together is one of the oldest, most widely used, and most emotionally effective symbols of community.

Have other suggestions for how to observe this week? Comment below with your ideas!

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