Secular and Religious Life

Religion for Athiests: a Non-belivers Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton.

De Botton describes himself as an atheist, but sounds like a person who wants/needs religion. He asserts that religious organizations meet many universal needs (for community, education, love) better than does “secular society”. Because I work at a college, I was especially interested in his critique of higher education. He suggests that academic departments be restructured to address major life issues – love, friendship, fear, etc. Of course this presupposes that the purpose of college is to make “better” people – more fulfilled, more responsible and more ethical. I watch the battle between liberal education and career training rage daily. Reading Religion for Atheists would be a good idea for people on both sides of that complicated divide.

De Botton suggestions cover lots more territory – art museums, community, the psychology of pessimism, nurturance and family life. His critique of optimism struck a chord with me, reminding me of another book I liked (Bright-sided by Barbara Ehrenreich). That’s a subject for another post.

I recommend this book.

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