Sage Classes

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Monday July 1, 2019 -- Thursday August 15, 2019
(Except Thursday classes which will end on Thursday August 22)

Monday 1:15-3:15 p.m.

JUDAS by Amos Oz

The figure of Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, has been explored and exploited many times during the last 2,000 years. Amos Oz wrote in 2016 a scintillating novel set in modern Jerusalem that blends a tender coming-of-age story with a thought-provoking study of betrayal. It integrates an exploration of the antique renegade apostle's motivation with a captivating story of "error, desire and unrequited love" in Oz's native Jerusalem during the winter of 1959. The looming question: are traitors always bad? Amos Oz is Israel's best-known novelist, perpetually mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for literature. Oz died this spring, and Judas is his final novel. Oz has the narrative craftsmanship to make his spellbinding tale of proposed accommodation with Arabs a bass line to the counterpoint view of the New Testament's muddled story of Judas. Some might say that Oz has written a masterpiece of world literature. There will be many issues to discuss.

Life and Legends of the Indian Tribes of the Southwest Before 1680

There is always a trace of mystery shrouding the lives of the Southwest peoples called the "Spirits of the Sacred Landscape." After the Great Being created all animals and people from mud balls, the people climbed into the upper world at Acoma Pueblo. Coyote found the people struggling, so he taught them how to live above ground in the light. Formed into tribes and Indian nations, the Southwest Indians created cultures and honored traditions that still guide them today. From the Anasazi to the Navajos, they were, and are, as varied as the country they occupied. Some traded with other tribes in South America where they acquired turquoise, and with the Pacific tribes for shells. Some cremated their dead; others buried them. Recent archeological research suggests they practiced cannibalism. Many Southwest cultures were matrilineal. By putting her husband's clothes on the doorstep, the wife divorces her husband and sends him home to his mother. Let's explore the interesting Indian nations of the vibrant American Southwest. If you were the Indian when the neighborhood kids played cowboys and Indians, this is the course for you.

Tuesday 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Hot Topics

This is an open-ended class. Presentations can utilize any qualified source (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, etc.) covering the recent political or social scene and historical events with current relevancy. Issues can be local, national or international. Controversial topics are welcome as they engender discussion. Join us if you enjoy lively, stimulating discussions.

Politically Charged Murders

This class will look at major murders / assassinations that shocked the world and impacted history. Some examples are Gregor Rasputin, John and Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Sacco and Vanzetti , Franz Ferdinand and a variety of others. Who are the killers, what were their motives, and what were the results of their actions?

Tuesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Maps: The Stories They Tell -- Power and Secrets, Dreams and Nightmares

How have maps been used to represent, reflect, distort, project or shape geographic, geopolitical, economic and/or cultural reality? How do they reveal our understanding or misunderstanding of the world? What do they tell us about the motivations of the map makers? How do they provide insights into the imagination of people and nations, into their intentions and aspirations? From the earliest efforts at depicting the world and its parts to present-day geo-mapping from space, maps provide a fascinating window into human history, with all its accomplishments, predations, folly and foibles. This class will look at maps from the exotic and phantasmagorical to the purely functional to learn their backstories, meaning and implications/significance. Topics can fall into many categories, including: depictions of the "known" world and terra incognita; maps used and created by adventurers, explorers and colonizers; maps created to illustrate or justify economic, political and imperial ambitions; treasure maps; maps in the search for or access to natural resources; maps weaponized in ethnic and religious struggles; military maps; etc.; etc.

Lesser Known Presidents

Many U. S. Presidents seem to have been relegated to the back pages of history. We know very little about them, and when they are discussed or written about, it is usually in derisive terms. Why? Do they deserve the obscure or negative role history has assigned them? This study group will take a fresh look at these men and their administrations and try to answer that question. Some examples are James Polk, John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, Warren Harding, and, of course, Millard Fillmore.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.


Millennium Dome Raid, The Collar Bomb Bank Robbery, $6 Billion in U.S. Tax Stolen in Iraq, The French Bank Vault Tunnelers, Great Train Robbery, Vastberga Helicopter Robbery, Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels Of England, Antwerp Diamond Heist, Ferdinand Marcos, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Bernie Madoff, etc. etc. etc. The list of those who committed the heists, and their stories are something to learn about and share. This class will look for the similarities in the stories, as well as the "clever" intentions of their perpetrators.


We grew up with the funny papers, cartoons in the movies, and magazines like New Yorker, comic books and editorial cartoons in the newspapers. Come and share some of your favorite cartoons, comic strips, and graphic novels. What is it about cartoons that tickles our fancy? What role do political cartoons play? How have cartoon movies, TV shows and novels affected us?

Wednesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy

One of Thomas Hardy's most powerful novels opens with a scene of shocking heartlessness. In a fit of drunken rage, Michael Henchard, an out-of-work laborer, sells his wife and baby daughter to a passing sailor. When the horror of what he has done dawns on him the next day, he determines to set his life on a different path, and through years of hard work and ambition rises to become the rich and respectable mayor of his town. Secret guilt continues to haunt this proud and brooding man, however, and when his wife and grown daughter return to Casterbridge, Henchard is set on the path to a dramatic confrontation with his own deeply flawed nature. Hardy's keen insight into the course of wayward lives and his instinctive feel for the beauty of the rural landscape come together in this unforgettable portrait of a tragic hero. PENGUIN CLASSICS, ISBN #:13: 978 0141439785

Fashion, Styles, Speech and Etiquette

Fashion, speech and etiquette have evolved over time. Who or what influenced the changes? How did our speech patterns evolve, and who determined what was proper? How and why did fashion change? Let's look at togas, codpieces, stove hats, bustles, wigs, merkins, and hoop skirts. Etiquette helps human beings to behave in a socially acceptable way, but what about outrageous or comical etiquette? Why was sniffing snuff socially appropriate? What about spittoons? How did the wedding etiquette evolve? Let's enjoy ourselves this summer!!

Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Kennedy Center Honorees

The first Kennedy Center Honors were presented in 1978. The first honorees were Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers and Arthur Rubinstein. In its subsequent 40 years the Kennedy Center Honors has redefined America's perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists. The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor -- the quintessential reward for a lifetime's endeavor. The roster of recipients charts the international standard of excellence set by America's artists. Honorees have come from all areas of performing arts and represent an amazing diversity of artists and genres. Pick you favorite honoree and tell us about their life and their art. You can find a list of honorees at

Food In History

How food and the search for it have influenced historical development. The idea came from a book of the same title written by Reay Tannahill. You can use this book to pick your topic for research and presentation, or you can pick another topic not included in this volume. For example: food before the Agricultural Revolution, and subsequent conversion of grain into flour during the Neolithic Period. Topics should address questions of historical development. (Sugar, coffee, and tea can be included; no spices, please, as that topic has already been covered.)

Thursday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

A Golden Civilization by George Kinder

Following a startup grassroots movement initiated by author George Kinder in his new book A Golden Civilization, this class will work together to identify shared core values that describe the world we want to live in, obstacles to those values, and actions available to each of us to move toward that vision. We will explore topics such as Democracy, Media, Corruption, Environment, Economics, War and Violence through the lens of our ideal civilization, void of partisan opinions. Presentations will focus on significant issues, leading the class in discussion focused on "golden civilization" objectives. ISBN#13: 978-1732792708

Thursday 12:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Movies based on the Plays of Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams is recognized as one of the greatest playwrights in American history. He was brilliant and prolific, breathing life and passion into such memorable characters as Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski in his critically acclaimed A Streetcar Named Desire. He was awarded four Drama Critic Circle Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. He was simultaneously praised and denounced for openly addressing taboo topics in a straightforward, realistic way. In this class we will view and discuss not only the films of his better known plays : A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but also some that we may be less familiar with. We will view and discuss one movie a week. The films are available on Netflix. Since many of the films are adaptations of his plays, participants in the class will be strongly encouraged to read the actual plays, which we will also discuss. There are many collected works available on Amazon or at the public library.


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