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Bible StoriesThe Bible —which includes both Jewish and Christian sacred texts—is arguably one of the most influential books ever written, and certainly in the Western world. Believers hold to its words and teachings as divinely inspired for faith and practice. For non-believers, however, The Bible is an important source of stories that weave in and out of Western culture, informing how we think about who we are, why we are here, and how we should live. Finally, The Bible is the origin of many enduring literary allusions, tropes and symbols, and knowing these is an important part of cultural literacy in the West. In this course, we will read and discuss several important Bible stories from the Hebrew Bible and from the Christian New Testament with a view toward understanding these timeless stories and the ways in which they direct and inform Western culture. (Readings will be assigned a week prior to the class beginning.)4 Week Class Schedule: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Wednesday, October 07, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM100.0008/12/202009/06/202019
The World According to Eric: Emerging Challenges and OpportunitiesLet’s take a deep dive into the emerging challenges facing the world today and the implications for U.S. foreign policy. Can we craft a grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy for the 21st century? If the answer is yes, what would that strategy look like? Where are the threats? How will the impact of the coronavirus, militarism, climate change, economic stagnation, migration, trade, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, technology, and shifting alliances inform the direction of the future? How will our national goals align with, or confront, those of our peer adversaries China and Russia, our allies, and independent emerging powers? Explore the challenges and join the conversation.10 Week Class Schedule: Monday, September 14, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, September 21, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, September 28, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, October 05, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, October 12, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, October 19, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, October 26, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, November 02, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, November 09, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Monday, November 16, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM250.0008/13/202009/06/202010
The Enigma of Thomas JeffersonJefferson’s range of interests and accomplishments are stunning, and he articulated the highest ideas of political and religious freedom. He was always an advocate of education. Scientist, architect, political philosopher, and much more, this multifaceted man often inspires us. But just as often he disappoints us. He was not a progressive in the realm of women’s rights, and, although a lifetime opponent of slavery, he never freed his own slaves or worked actively as president to advance abolition. How do we come to terms with this complex thinker? How is he to be understood? This course will examine Jefferson holistically and in the context of his age and place, and attempt to discover a Jefferson appropriate for our time. Along the way, we will examine his views on religion, the American West, and other issues relevant to the time.4 Week Class Schedule: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Jefferson in the Era of the American Revolution Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Jefferson as French Ambassador, Secretary of State, and Party Leader Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Jefferson as President Tuesday, October 06, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Jefferson and the Problem of Slavery100.0008/17/202009/06/202013
Guides for the Perplexed: Albert Camus on ExistentialismAlbert Camus on Existentialism: Why We Can’t Live With Absurdity and Why We Can’t Live Without It” With his handsomely haggard face wreathed in cigarette smoke, Albert Camus was a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. He was also the postwar poster boy for French existentialism. In 1947, when he was already celebrated as the author of The Strangerand a member of the French Resistance, Camus published The Plague. A gripping work of fiction, the work narrates the story of a small group of men who struggle against the arrival of the bubonic plague in Oran, the French Algerian city where they live. When the Nobel Committee awarded Camus its prize for literature in 1957, it declared that, as with his other works, the novel “illuminated the problem of the human conscience in our time.” This class will consider whether The Plague, in its portrayal of the French Resistance against the “brown plague” of the German Occupation, also illuminates our own struggle against other kinds of plague that threaten not just our lives but also our most fundamental values.25.0008/17/202009/06/202024
Guides for the Perplexed: Marcus Aurelius on Stoicism“Marcus Aurelius on Stoicism: Keep Calm and Philosophize On” You may not have heard of Marcus Aurelius, but if you have seen the Hollywood blockbuster “Gladiator,” you have met him. Played by the English actor Richard Harris, we first see this Roman emperor hunkered over a table, scribbling furiously onto a sheaf of parchment all the while ignoring—and stealing the movie from—Russell Crowe, who plays the Roman general Maximus. What Marcus Aurelius is writing, at least to those in the know, is his Meditations. These are the private notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote—and never meant to be published—to remind him of the lessons of Stoicism. The book has since become a perennial bestseller. (In fact, since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Penguin Books reports that sales for its edition of the Meditations have increased over 300 percent.) Marcus is a fascinating figure, first of all, because was the last of the “good” Roman emperors, but also because, like us, he lived in interesting times. The Roman Empire had reached its greatest size and, as a result, had to contend with the invasion not just of “barbarian” tribes, but also the invasion of a plague—in this case, smallpox—that threatened the empire. The great question we will take up is whether one can be both a good ruler and a good philosopher.25.0008/17/202009/06/202024
Guides for the Perplexed: Michel de Montaigne on SkepticismMichel de Montaigne also lived in interesting times. Sixteenth century France was plagued not just by the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants, but was also plagued by, well, the plague. If the French were not struggling with one another over their competing faiths, they were struggling against several waves of the bubonic plague. As the invaluable go-between for the competing religious and political factions in France, Montaigne strove to maintain a position of moderation and toleration. What better method to achieve these goals, he believed, than skepticism? How is it that this claim, which seems paradoxical to us, made perfect sense to Montaigne? Our class will not only explore this question, but also explore the work to which Montaigne devoted the last two decades of his life, his Essays—a work that has long been considered one of western literature’s greatest works, influencing writers from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf.25.0008/17/202009/06/202024
Understanding China's Economic Transformation Autocracy and CapitalismThis seminar will examine how China went from a third world economy in the 60’s and 70’s to the world’s second largest economy today. In order to appreciate the Chinese prospective, the class will briefly review the dynasty period for its inventions and cultural developments, as well as the Hundred Years of Humiliation, and the devastation to the country caused by Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. After Mao, the restructuring of the bloated State Owed Enterprises and the birth of capitalism under Deng Xiaoping are highlighted. In addition, President Xi’s current programs, including the Belt and Road Initiative and Made in China 2025, will be analyzed for their impact on China’s future growth and trade policies. The risks to China’s continuing growth are immense, and will be covered in detail.3 Week Class Schedule: Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Tuesday, November 10, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM75.0008/18/202009/06/202012
Travels with Barry: Boston (Where I Grew Up)Where I Want to Go, Join Me! Boston (Where I Grew Up) Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Travels with Barry: The Hague (A Dutch Alternative to Amsterdam)Where I Want to Go, Join Me! The Hague (A Dutch Alternative to Amsterdam) Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Travels with Barry: Tokyo (Modern Excitement with a Hint of the Past)Travels with Barry: Where I Want to Go, Join Me! Tokyo (Modern Excitement with a Hint of the Past) Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Travels with Barry: Liverpool and Manchester (There is More to Urban England than London)Travels with Barry: Where I Want to Go, Join Me! Liverpool and Manchester (There is More to Urban England than London) Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Travels with Barry: Vienna (That Most Perfect City)Travels with Barry: Where I Want to Go, Join Me! Vienna (That Most Perfect City) Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Travels with Barry: A Surprise DestinationTravels with Barry: Where I Want to Go, Join Me! This final destination for the Fall will be a surprise to both you and me! Among all the complexities that the year 2020 has produced, it has prevented us from traveling. Once this “pandemonium” is over and the world reopens, I have made a list of the places to which I want to revisit – notably several favorite cities in various parts of world. I invite you to come along with me on this virtual journey, and see if these destinations are as interesting and exciting as I remember.Recorded Webinar to be released by 5:00 on the designated day. 1 Week to view.25.0008/18/202009/06/202013
Two Extraordinary PaintingsIn these two sessions we will examine two masterpieces: one painting by Rembrandt in the first session and, another by Goya in the second. We will examine their form and craftsmanship and also gauge their significance as works of art. Furthermore, we will take a final glance at them trying to grasp any relevance they may have, if any, to our present historical situation. We will find something amusing in the case of the Rembrandt and something sobering in the case of the Goya.2 Week Class Schedule: Thursday, October 1, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Rembrandt Thursday, October 8 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM | Goya50.0008/20/202009/06/20205
Surrealism in the United States: The Art of Subconscious DesireWhen Surrealism was first introduced to American audiences in the 1930s, art critics didn’t know what to make of it. But advertisers quickly realized that Surrealism’s shocking images - meant to shake people from their bourgeois complacency - could be put to use in the fashion industry. This lecture explores Surrealism’s strange transition from the museum to the marketplace - and back again - as Surrealism became one of the most popular avant-garde art movements in the U.S.25.0008/20/202009/06/20205
A Book Group: Reading Critically Acclaimed Literary WorksThis class will meet once a month to discuss eight literary works. We will meet the fourth Tuesday of each month, from September to May, excluding December. The selections have been made from novels, collections of short stories, and memoirs that have received critical acclaim from peers, reviewers, and the reading public. Led by author and writing instructor Nancy Geyer, the course will differ from a lecture format in that class members will be encouraged to participate in the discussion of the monthly book assignment. It is patterned on the classic formula of book clubs that became popular in the early 20th century and continue to the present day. Emphasis will be placed on characterization, plot, structure, dialogue, style, and atmosphere. The book selections and dates follow: September 22 - JANE EYRE by Charlotte BronteOctober 27 - THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk KiddNovember 24 - THE BEST PEOPLE: A TALE OF TRIALS AND ERRORS by Marc GrossbergDecember - No MeetingJanuary 26 - A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by James AgeeFebruary 23 - MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE: A THERAPIST, HER THERAPIST, AND OUR LIVES REVEALED by Lori GottliebMarch 23 - EDUCATED by Tara WestoverApril 27 - DISPATCHES FROM PLUTO: LOST AND FOUND IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA by Richard GrantMay 25 - THE RAINBOW COMES AND GOES: A MOTHER AND SON ON LIFE, LOVE AND LOSS by Anderson Cooper with Gloria Vanderbilt300.0008/20/202009/07/202018
Revolution and Romanticism: 18th Century European ArtThis course will look at European painting during the age of revolutions, from about 1700-1850. We will look closely at the artistic movements of the Rococo, Neo-Classical and Romanticism in France, Britain, Spain, and Germany. This was a period of extraordinary changes and we will track the effects of sweeping economic, industrial, social, philosophical, religious, and cultural changes on art and artists. We will see not only how these seismic shifts are reflected in works of art but also how art itself could be a driving factor in creating or resisting change. Close examination of works of art by Jacques Louis-David, Francisco Goya, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, Caspar David Friedrich, Theodore Gericault, and Eugene Delacroix will be combined with study of contemporary philosophical, literary, and political texts.4 Week Class Schedule: Monday, October 12, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Monday, October 19, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Monday, October 26, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Monday, November 02, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM100.0008/20/202009/06/20205
Congress and the LobbyChase Untermeyer began his many years of fascination with Congress in the summer of 1967 as an intern in the office of then-freshman congressman George H.W. Bush. Since then, he has dealt with both House and Senate in a variety of jobs and perspectives. He will examine what makes Congress work — or not; the people drawn to serve there, both as members and staff; and the influence exerted by “the lobby”, which covers as wide a scope as the American economy and the many interests of ordinary Americans.25.0008/20/202009/06/202010
The Nine: A Non-lawyer's Look at the Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court and the entire federal judiciary have an immense impact on how the US government and national economy function. As such, the courts should not be the province or interest only of lawyers but of all citizens. Chase Untermeyer — a non-lawyer but someone with considerable experience in Washington — will look at how the Supreme Court operates and some of its most historic decisions.25.0008/20/202009/06/202010
Sacred Sands: How Islam and History Shape the Modern Middle EastChase Untermeyer served as US ambassador to the wealthy and influential nation of Qatar from 2004 to 2007. He will share his insights into how the Middle East has been influenced by the religion that sprang from it in the 7th century and by its contentious relationship with the West that began with the Crusades of the Middle Ages. His lecture will tell how the United States came to be involved in a region from which It cannot seem to extricate itself, as much as presidents of both parties have yearned to do so.25.0008/20/202009/06/202010
The Middle East: A Trouble-free Tour of Trouble SpotsAmbassador Untermeyer will give a valuable introduction and insights into Middle Eastern hot spots, fresh from the morning headlines: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the ambitions and dangers of Iran; the future of Saudi Arabia; the new Turkish “empire”; and the never-ending tragedies of Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Lebanon.25.0008/20/202009/06/202010
Armchair Travels: Museums in Paris "Behind the Scenes" from Impressionism to Contemporary ArtIn these richly illustrated lectures Dr. Anna Tahinci will offer virtual artistic journeys to Paris, its arts scenes and museums and will be sharing her expertise in Art History and Museum Studies. By studying a curated selection of well-known Parisian museums (the Musée d’Orsay, the Orangerie, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée Picasso), “hidden gems” (the two Musées Rodin in Paris and Meudon, the Musée Bourdelle, the Musée Zadkine), and private foundations (the Fondation Cartier and the Fondation Louis Vuitton), we will analyze architecture, painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and photography, and we will trace the history and culture of France in Paris. These lectures will also address the historical, financial, administrative, and political challenges Parisian museums are facing in the 21st century: globalization and export of French art and culture, the necessity of being profitable due to less governmental support, Relational Aesthetics and the requirements for introducing contemporary art in the context of a rich cultural heritage.4 Week Class Schedule: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Tuesday, October 06, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM100.0008/24/202009/07/20205
From "Cradle" to "Hub": The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for Modern and Contemporary Art at MFAHCelebrating the opening of the Nancy and Rich Kinder building for modern and contemporary art at the MFAH, this richly illustrated lecture will present a panoramic overview of the new building and campus redevelopment of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The inaugural installations highlight major collections of modern and contemporary art, presented in depth for the first time (postwar U.S. painting , postwar Latin American art, international photography, prints and drawings, and international decorative arts, craft, and design), and site-specific commissions by seven renowned international artists (El Anatsui, Byung Hoon Choi, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Olafur Eliasson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Cristina Iglesias, and Ai Weiwei) mark key sites on campus.25.0008/24/202009/06/20205
Trump/Pence v. Biden/Harris: Analysis of a Presidential ElectionWith the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Joe Biden has filled the last spot on the national election card. This makes an already classic contest even more interesting as a 55-year-old woman of color joins three old white guys on the national election stage.For some time it has been evident that this was going to be a very unusual election. More people have been registering and voting than we have seen in any decade. That has a lot to do with the fact that 2020 combines the worst public health crisis in 100+ years; an economy more deeply wounded than we have seen since the 1930s; and the nation wrestling with difficult racial justice and economic inequality issues. In this context, will the electorate decide to extend President Trump's tenure for another four years? Or, unseat a one-term incumbent for the first time since 1992? In addition to these substantive issues, we have great uncertainty as to how the election itself will be conducted amid a raging pandemic, and whether the results will be accepted in a deeply polarized nation.Finally, Texas is back in play after nearly 50 years of backing Republicans for president. It all adds up to a fascinating Fall - not just for the usual political junkies who watch Fox News and MSNBC, but also for all Americans as we face an election that will set the course of our nation for decades.Our 10 online lectures starting in mid-September will follow the contest to the conclusion of voting on November 3rd, analyze the results, and try to determine what it all means for a nation entering the 3rd decade of the 21st century.10 Week Class Schedule: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, October 07, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, November 04, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM250.0008/24/202009/08/202010
Israel and PalestineThe slender strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River seems to be the most prized possession of both the modern and ancient worlds. No area has been trod by so many varied footsteps nor watered by so much bloodshed. Students will learn about the many inhabitants of this land, their political and religious histories and the many conflicts, which culminate in today’s Israeli/Palestinian difficulties. We will discuss the political leaders and factions who have shaped Israeli and Palestinian passions, the influence of neighbors such as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey; U.S., Russian and Iranian influence in the area, and the prolonged Israeli political process that still struggles to settle on a new government. Thursday, January 14, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | The Ancient Land: Who Lives Here? Thursday, January 21, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Modern Israel: The Beginning Thursday, January 28, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | The Israeli State Thursday, February 04, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Peace? Thursday, February 11, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Israeli Politics vs. Palestinian Politics Thursday, February 18, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM | Israel and Palestine Today150.0008/24/202009/06/202013
Novellas and the Curious In-BetweenStephen King once called the novella "an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.” Is the novella really such a creature of instability? What, if anything, defines the genre, other than a length determined by what it is not—too long be a short story and too short to be a novel? The novella is a genre of in-betweens, a curious and unstable commodity that hasn’t perhaps found its place today in either literary canons or widespread public interest. In this course, we’ll read some of the best novellas of the 20th and 21st centuries (cheating a bit with "The Turn of the Screw" [1898]). Like the genre itself, these novellas feature a range of curious in-betweens—people/places with mutable identities that have uncanny and/or tragic outcomes. Every week, I’ll provide an author background and any relevant historical/critical context, as well as a series of questions to guide this interactive, discussion-based experience. Participation is encouraged but optional. I will provide you with the James, McCullers, and Chiang texts, but you will need to purchase the Ferrante, Larsen, and Jackson on your own. Please come to the first class having read Ferrante’s "Days of Abandonment."6 Week Class Schedule Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | The Turn of the Screw, James Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, McCullers Wednesday, October 07, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Passing, Larsen Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | Story of Your Life, Chiang Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM | We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Jackson150.0008/24/202009/06/202018
Certain People of the BookThe Bible includes portraits of some people that become more fascinating the deeper one looks at them. In these four sessions, we will take a deep look at three people you think you already know. Surely, you might say, I have heard their stories. And I would remind you of my signature saying, “Nothing changes as fast as ancient history.” We start with a beauty contest winner, move on to a working-class peasant, and wrap up with two sessions on the Bible’s most reluctant prophet.4 Week Class Schedule: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 11:30 PM Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Wednesday, October 07, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PMSession One: Esther The Scroll of Esther presents something entirely new in the Bible: the life of ancient Judeans living outside of Judea and under Persian rule. This is the first encounter with situations unique to minorities, with problems faced by groups who are considered “strangers” far from their homes. At the same time, the most influential characters are both involved in palace intrigue at the very highest level. There is a power play at court, subterfuge, sexual innuendo, disguise and deception, revolt and massacre—hey, is there something in Downton Abbey that wasn’t already in the Book of Esther? Through a PowerPoint presentation, Rabbi Rossel reveals secrets of the Persian court (including some secrets of ancient makeup) and examines the motivations of those who told the story. You thought you knew the story of Esther? You were only told the children’s version. But not now!Session Two: Ruth The Scroll of Ruth also seems simple on the surface, but it turns out that it is an undercover masterpiece. Ruth reimagines the struggles of all womankind to find happiness and harmony in life. This is more difficult when Ruth is the stranger and the Judeans are at home. And this is the time before there were any kings in the Holy Land. Each scene in Ruth illuminates a telling aspect of village life and exposes basic everyday beliefs and practices (most not so very far from our own). Some believe the book is even more the story of Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, and of her powerful relative, Boaz. But far from the glamor of palaces and servants, perfumes and cosmetics, the Scroll of Ruth deals with prejudice and gossip, love and loyalty. It is a novella, for sure, and possibly inserted into the Bible to make a political statement (What? Politics? In the Bible?). Rabbi Rossel retells Ruth in colorful multimedia slides showing the underlying stories of the ambitious Naomi, loving daughter-in-law Ruth, and lustful kinsman Boaz. Session Three: Jonah, a Master of Opposites Now we turn to Jonah-- a man with a problem—actually three problems. He hated authority (even God’s). He grumbled and complained (a lot!). And he had a very high opinion of himself. So, right away, he seems like someone you might know, someone in your family, or someone you just elected to office. Like the fellow himself, the Book of Jonah is filled with mysteries and byways and is not what it is supposed to be. In Bibles, it falls in the midst of “the Twelve,” the minor prophets. But it is nothing like its eleven friends. They all present prophecies, the poetry of the God-lovers. Jonah only presents a story, the story of one prophet who is different from all the rest. In the first go round, we find out just how different and strange this story can be. (Hint: It’s wonderful that the Book of Jonah is so short. You have plenty of time to give it a read to refresh your memory even before the class.) Don’t worry, though, Rabbi Rossel has had a few chances to study it and will gladly refresh your memory in class, too.Session Four: The Many Messages of Jonah By now, we will be asking: “Is Jonah really a prophet?” But in the New Testament, Jesus calls on Jonah’s restoration after three days inside the great fish to prefigure the resurrection of Jesus. In one dialogue, Jesus answers, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Suddenly, we need to look for the sign Jesus saw in this remarkable little book. And it turns out that Jesus saw a lot. Does a message come through Jonah (the way messages come from other prophets) that still applies to us today? But before we get intense and somber, we should know that some scholars study Jonah as a comedy. And, wait! Still others see Jonah as a universal prophet sent to Jew and non-Jew alike. Is there some significance to the fact that the name Jonah means “dove”? Together, we will “wrap up” the Book of Jonah, finding some messages of our own and wrap up the four sessions on some very interesting Bible folk.100.0008/24/202009/06/202019
Oddities in the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Copper ScrollStill the greatest archaeological discovery of modern times, the Dead Sea Scrolls clarify what was going on in Judaea from 300 BCE to the close of the first century CE while posing many mysteries and conundrums that occupy not only scholars but everyone interested in the Holy Land of Judaism, Christianity, and later Islam. In Cave 3, archaeologists found what no one could possibly have imagined. Either it is the most elaborate hoax of history or it is a treasure map of extreme importance. But to open it was no easy task, since the scroll was made of copper. To read it is no easy task, since the scroll is purposely secretive. To know what it is and what it is not is the greatest task of all. But let us examine, with ancient and modern eyes, the meaning of the “Copper Scroll”. In this day and age of staying indoors, you will find this examination of the environs of ancient Jerusalem, ancient Qumran, and the Dead Sea area a breath of fresh air. That is, a breath of 2000 year-old “fresh” air. Come and have a look!25.0008/24/202009/06/202019
Odd Pieces in the Dead Sea ScrollsThe majority of what we found (and we found an enormous trove that equals a library) is copies of biblical books, writings of a sect about their rules and regulations, and maybe an attempt to rewrite pieces of the Bible. But among the rest were some extremely interesting items. A few help us understand what kind of Messiah the Jews were expecting just before (and just after) the time of Jesus. Also, there is a kind of “Proto-Esther,” a book that somewhat resembles Esther (and somewhat does not). There is a fascinating connection with explorations of the middle ages in a fragment that recounts some rules of the community. We call this “the Damascus Document” and the reason it takes on this name is also fascinating. And there is a very adult document called “The Seductress” which is a very long poem. And there is reason to believe that some of us adults might find it very much fun to examine. Rossel will give you a few more oddities along the way and you will be more than usually interesting at your dinner tables for a day or two, at least.25.0008/24/202009/06/202019
Making Sense of Science in the News - 1Join us this Fall to discuss and make sense of scientific concepts that pop up in our news feed on a daily basis. In this age of information, we are constantly bombarded with news stories about scientific topics that are not always easy to understand – and yet these scientific advances directly impact our lives in many ways. No scientific topic has impacted our lives and dominated the media this year more than the current coronavirus pandemic – as we live through the most serious health emergency in over 100 years, we will kick things off by talking about the biology of the coronavirus and some of the strategies currently in the works to fight it, including the frantic race for vaccine development.*Each of Dr. Larios's four lectures are individual and unique as they cover only the most current news in science. Purchase each lecture individually.25.0008/24/202009/06/202021
Making Sense of Science in the News - 2Join us this Fall to discuss and make sense of scientific concepts that pop up in our news feed on a daily basis. In this age of information, we are constantly bombarded with news stories about scientific topics that are not always easy to understand – and yet these scientific advances directly impact our lives in many ways. No scientific topic has impacted our lives and dominated the media this year more than the current coronavirus pandemic – as we live through the most serious health emergency in over 100 years, we will kick things off by talking about the biology of the coronavirus and some of the strategies currently in the works to fight it, including the frantic race for vaccine development.*Each of Dr. Larios's four lectures are individual and unique as they cover only the most current news in science. Each of these lectures should be purchased individually.25.0008/24/202009/06/202021
Making Sense of Science in the News - 3Join us this Fall to discuss and make sense of scientific concepts that pop up in our news feed on a daily basis. In this age of information, we are constantly bombarded with news stories about scientific topics that are not always easy to understand – and yet these scientific advances directly impact our lives in many ways. No scientific topic has impacted our lives and dominated the media this year more than the current coronavirus pandemic – as we live through the most serious health emergency in over 100 years, we will kick things off by talking about the biology of the coronavirus and some of the strategies currently in the works to fight it, including the frantic race for vaccine development.*Each of Dr. Larios's four lectures are individual and unique as they cover only the most current news in science. Each of these lectures should be purchased individually.25.0008/24/202009/06/202021
Making Sense of Science in the News - 4Join us this Fall to discuss and make sense of scientific concepts that pop up in our news feed on a daily basis. In this age of information, we are constantly bombarded with news stories about scientific topics that are not always easy to understand – and yet these scientific advances directly impact our lives in many ways. No scientific topic has impacted our lives and dominated the media this year more than the current coronavirus pandemic – as we live through the most serious health emergency in over 100 years, we will kick things off by talking about the biology of the coronavirus and some of the strategies currently in the works to fight it, including the frantic race for vaccine development.*Each of Dr. Larios's four lectures are individual and unique as they cover only the most current news in science. Each of these lectures should be purchased individually.25.0008/24/202009/06/202021
Fall Bird Migrations around Houston: Get Out Your Binoculars!They’re coming! And most us will miss seeing these beautiful, amazing creatures only because we do not realize this is happening in our parks and neighborhoods!Three to five billion birds migrate in and out of North America every year. They make this astonishing flight in the spring for breeding and then again in the fall to return to their winter homes. Some winter as far south as the tip of South America!We are fortunate that the Houston, Galveston, Lake Jackson region is geographically located in the central flyway that many of these birds use every year. Prime fall migration is August through early November.Why do birds migrate? How do they navigate across such enormous distances, and how dangerous is their journey? What do birds do to prepare for migration? We will explore the dangers faced, perils endured, and the almost unbelievable physiology of birds that migrate. In this presentation we will look into the lives of some unique birds that migrate through our coastal marshes, prairies, and woodlands. Participants will learn where to go in our area to witness this astonishing migration!25.0008/24/202009/06/202021
What is Happiness?Since the dawning of civilization human beings have pondered what it means to be happy. From ancient Greek philosophy to modern positive psychology we are still seeking basic answers This course will look both at the large philosophical questions and the personal questions of what does it mean for me to be happy. As a discussion oriented course, Dr. Winters will introduce topics, give a brief lecture, and then guide the class in discussion and in class exercises. Let’s explore this riddle that we call happiness.6 Week Class Schedule: Wednesday, October  21, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Wednesday,  November 18, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Skipping November 25 Wednesday, December 02, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM200.0008/24/202009/06/202020
Cotton, Slavery, and How Mexico's Far North Became the American SouthwestDuring the first half of the nineteenth century tumultuous transformations remade Texas – and North America. Following the upheavals of the cotton revolution of the early 1800s, American farmers surged beyond American borders as they brought both cotton and slavery into northern Mexico. The result was a series of violent clashes between Americans and Mexicans over the future of slavery and freedom in the territory that led to the Texas Revolution, the rise and collapse of the Republic of Texas, and a war between the United States and Mexico and remade the continent. This is a sweeping story told through the eyes of the people who lived through the struggles that created the foundations of modern Texas.25.0008/24/202009/06/202013
Black AuthorsThe books we will read for this course will provide a brief survey of how the legacy of slavery has devastated the family, as well as demonstrate how the family’s disintegration affects the integrity and coherence of the individual. In an era of Black Lives Matter it is vitally important that we challenge ourselves to listen to what these black authors express through their words, characters, and situations in the hopes that we might become more enlightened. While these novels are not exactly easy to read, each one of them will reward your efforts. • "Colored People" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. • "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker • "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead • "Jazz" by Toni Morrison • "The Known World" by Edward O. JonesThese books will be available at Brazos Bookstore. You can order by phone (713-523-0701) or on line (Brazosbookstore.com). Brazos provides curbside pickup.6 Week Class Schedule: Thursday, October 15, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Thursday, October 22, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Thursday, November 12, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Thursday, October 19, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM150.0008/24/202009/06/202018
Wordsmithing 101: A Master Class in Finding Your Creative VoiceDo you feel the need to tell your particular story or have the desire to look at words and sentences differently? Do you want to make your writing as clear as the planning that goes into it? This workshop is for everyone interested in learning how to plan and write more clearly and creatively. The instruction will be geared to good writing in both fiction and nonfiction. Participants will come away with a plethora of helpful handouts. Some topics covered will include good rules for good writers, having something to say, the six senses, dialogue and dialect, showing vs. telling, editing and revision, peer critiquing, and much more.6 Week Class Schedule: Monday, October 5, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Monday, October 12, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Monday, October 19, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Monday, October 26, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Monday, November 2, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Monday, November 9, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM175.0008/24/202009/06/202023
Interesting Times: A Writing ChallengeAs these interesting times continue into the Fall, we are challenged by more disruption and change; and yet, there is much to capture as you and those around you adapt to new circumstances. This writing class will create a strong link between your bookcase and your keyboard as reading inspires you to explore ideas, emotions, memories, and humor. We will highlight writing tactics that take us back into a real or imaginary past, dissect a special slice of the present or even launch a voyage to the future. Writing prompts, which won’t necessarily be writing assignments, will precede each session. The scope for imagination, as Anne of Green Gables would say, is wide. We will explore fiction, memoir, poetry, essays, whimsy and more—adaptable to your own new idea or current project.8 Week Class Schedule: Friday, September 18, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, September 25, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, October 02, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, October 09, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, October 16, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, October 23, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, October 30, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Friday, November 06, 2020 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM225.0008/24/202009/06/202023
Rethinking Abstraction: Women Artists in Latin AmericaThroughout the twentieth century, Latin American women artists have actively shaped the artistic languages of their time. Yet, they have largely been left out of art historical accounts and exhibitions until very recently. This class will explore the significant contributions of these female innovators to the development of key movements in their respective countries with a specific focus on Geometric Abstraction and Informalism. We will examine the experimental constructivist practices of Lygia Clark and Judith Lauand; the chromatic structures of Fanny Sanín and Carmen Herrera; Elsa Gramcko’s sui generis approach to Informalism; and the female-centered proposals of Feliza Bursztyn and Zilia Sánchez. The class coincides with the special exhibition of the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from October 21, 2020 through January 18, 2021.25.0008/24/202009/06/20205
Jill Carroll Unplugged: Poly LifeTime magazine asks what can monogamous couples learn from polyamorous ones. A New York Times essayist writes that poly families are coming soon to the house next door. Vogue runs a feature piece on what it’s really like to practice polyamory. What is all this??!! What is “poly” and why does it matter? In this session, we will discover what all the current hoopla is about in the popular culture. We will also dig deep into the core beliefs and myths of Western culture about love and family, and how the “poly” experience calls nearly all of them into question.25.0008/24/202009/06/202024
The Murray Report: Winner Winner Chicken DinnerJoin Dr. Richard Murray as he unpacks one of the most consequential elections in American history. Let’s hope we have a declared winner by December!25.0008/24/202009/06/202010
Napoleon and Beethoven: A Declining RelationshipIn 1838, 25 years after Beethoven wrote the Eroica Symphony, two of his students told a story about why he decided not to name it after Napoleon, and the image of Beethoven, the revolutionary hero, was born. The true story of the symphony is actually more complicated, and more interesting. And the true hero of the symphony is not Beethoven or Napoleon, but the opening theme.25.0008/24/202009/06/20205
Maestro on the Podium: Sonic OutputHave you ever wondered exactly what a conductor is doing on the podium or what is going through their head during a performance? One of the few female conductors in the country, Dominique Royem will take us through the language of conducting— demonstrating arm, baton, and hand techniques; explaining what the musicians are looking for from the conductor as they play; and analyzing what is going on in the head of a conductor while conducting a piece. Incorporating both theoretical and practical examples of conducting, the lecture will start with a discussion and demonstration of a simple work, then move to an intermediate work, and culminate with a performance of a highly technical work.25.0008/24/202009/06/20205
U.S. Grand Strategy“Foreign policy," Walter Lippmann wrote famously in 1943, "consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power." One of the ways to create such a balance, at least theoretically, is through grand strategy – very roughly, a set of foreign policy priorities supported by adequate resources. But the very idea of grand strategy is a controversial subject. Does it reflect a long-term vision? Or is grand strategy merely the makeshift product of short-term crises? What has been U.S. grand strategy since World War II – and particularly since the end of the Cold War? What will it be with either Trump or Biden in office? Lecturer Joe Barnes – with forty years’ experience in the study and practice of foreign policy – will explore these and other questions.25.0008/25/202009/06/202010
U.S. Foreign Policy After the ElectionAfter the Election: U.S. Foreign Policy for the Next Four Years The November 3 presidential election will decisively shape U.S. foreign policy for the next four years. The outcome is currently in doubt as we face a host of foreign policy issues, ranging from international cooperation on climate change to the nuclear deal with Iran. Given the importance of the United States in world affairs, the election will have far-reaching consequences for the international balance of power. What initiatives will be emphasized? Who will be the chief advisors? What challenges – from a revanchist Russia to a rising China -- will arise? Join Joe Barnes – a U.S. foreign policy expert at Rice University – as he assesses the future of U.S. engagement in the international arena.25.0008/25/202009/06/202010
Built Houston: How Architecture Defines the Bayou CityAs Houston has grown from a frontier village to a sprawling metropolis, its architecture has reflected local realities and ambitions. The city’s buildings tell the story of two centuries of growth, from tents hastily pitched as homes and businesses in the 1830s to gleaming skyscrapers reared during energy booms of the 20th and 21st centuries. Jim Parsons will give an overview of Bayou City architecture in this Sunday lecture, looking at some of our most notable buildings and how they can help us better understand an ever-changing urban landscape.25.0008/25/202009/06/202013
A Haunting Lecture: The History of Horror FilmsIn 1931, the United States film industry thrilled audiences with two movies, "Dracula" and "Frankenstein." Both films, adapted from gothic novels about supernatural subjects, entertained audiences by frightening them. Each film enjoyed commercial and critical success, marking the beginning of a new genre of film: horror. This 90-minute course surveys 90 years of horror in film. It moves through the decades and uses iconic films to consider the significance of the genre, as entertainment, art, historical marker, and cultural critique. In addition to "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," some of the films mentioned will be: "Creature from the Black Lagoon," "Psycho," "Rosemary’s Baby," "The Shining," and "28 Days Later."25.0008/25/202009/06/20205
Reading the Bible During a PandemicDuring a pandemic, many of us turn to the Bible. The Psalms of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in particular can be a source of comfort and encouragement. After a few general observations on the Book of Psalms, we will read Psalm 91 slowly together. Throughout its history of reading in Judaism and Christianity, Psalm 91 has been associated with plagues and other pandemics. Our task will be to explore the challenges of reading Psalm 91 today, deriving comfort while being mindful that we live in modern times.25.0008/27/202009/06/202019