Intriguing isn’t a word often associated with holiday decorations, but that’s the best way I can describe the Tree of Knowledge, created by Freethought Society founder Margaret Downey. Chester County commissioners have denied the society’s request to include it in a multi-cultural display alongside a Christmas tree, a menorah and other multicultural staples.
The tree’s current home is indoors at the Ethical Society near Rittenhouse Square.
At 9 feet tall, the Tree of Knowledge looks something like a Christmas tree, but it’s festooned with laminated jackets of books. It was impossible to resist walking around the tree to spot many books I'd loved and others I haven't read but should. Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” had a nice spot in the front. The tree included other evolution-themed books written by Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. There were also books by Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Victor Stenger, Daniel Dennett and the much-missed Christopher Hitchens, who died last week at the age of 62.
The books are all supposed to be nontheist. A good fraction were science books. As a bookish child I would have been tranfixed and delighted by a tree like this.