Axial Age 

Presented by John Mears and First Unitarian Church of Dallas

Now available for congregations and groups anywhere, this course offered at First Unitarian Church of Dallas is an excellent resource for adult religious education. Through video lectures and supplemental reflection materials, you can bring the wisdom and inspiration of historian John Mears to your community.contributionbutton 

Course Description

During the pivotal era of the last millennium BCE, a remarkable group of seers and thinkers arose in civilization centers across the face of Eurasia.  Their insights on what it means to be human laid the foundations for the great world religions of the modern age and provided present societies with an enduring basis for spiritual questing and intellectual debate. This series explores the historical context that shaped the ideas associated with the Axial Age and suggests the relevance of those ideas for our own troubled present. It also draws on recent treatments of the Axial Age as embodied in such books as Robert Bellah “Religion in Human Evolution” and Karen Armstrong “The Great Transformation.”

John A. Mears is an associate professor at Southern Methodist University. He began his career specializing in the emergence of standing professional armies in early modern Europe, with a complementary interest in comparative revolutionary movements. His growing awareness of global forces transforming the context of human existence in the twentieth century motivated him to make world history a primary area of concern. Mears’ current project, tentatively entitled, To Be Human: A Perspective on Our Common History, is a single interpretation of shared characteristics and the diversity of human experience in world-historical terms.

Course Materials

Session Videos –

    1. Introductory Video with Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter, Senior Minister of First Unitarian Church of Dallas
    2. Session 1   What is the Axial Age?
    3. Session 2   The Social Evolution of Religion in Early Human History
    4. Session 3   The Rise of Zoroastrianism
    5. Session 4   A Hundred Flowers Bloom: The China of Confucius
    6. Session 5   The Naked Philosophers: The India of Gautama the Buddha
    7. Session 6   The Prophetic Movement: The Hebrew World of Isaiah
    8. Session 7   The Lovers of Wisdom: The Greek World of Socrates
    9. Session 8   The Legacy of the Axial Age:   Implications for Today’s World

Each session video includes a brief welcome (1-2 minutes), the class lecture and discussion led by John Mears (~ 1 hour), and a segment with questions for reflection and discussion in your congregation or class (1-2 minutes). Session 8 includes a follow-on piece in which John discusses the series with First Unitarian Church of Dallas Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter and Rev. Beth Dana, Minister of Congregational Life.contributionbutton

How to Get the Materials

Considerable resources went into recording and producing this course. Therefore, we ask that you make a contribution to First Unitarian Church of Dallas for use of the materials, so that we can keep producing resources like this for the wider world. Once we receive notification that you have completed the online form and made a contribution, we will email you a web link and password to access the course materials.