Q: If we were to replace religion with a secular equivalent, who would be our gurus?
A: We don't need a central structure. We are beyond the age of gurus and inspirational leaders. We are in the age of the Wiki structure. This means that it is up to all of us to look at religion and see what bits we can steal and place into the modern world. We might all contribute to the construction of new temples, not the government, but the concerned, interested individual. The salvation of the individual soul remains a serious problem--even when we dismiss the idea of God. In the 20th century, capitalism has really solved (in the rich West) the material problems of a significant portion of mankind. But the spiritual needs are still in chaos, with religion ceasing to answer the need. This is why I wrote my book, to show that there remains a new way: a way of filling the modern world with so many important lessons from religion, and yet not needing to return to any kind of occult spirituality.Q: Don't you think that, in order to truly appreciate religious music and art, you have to be a believer--or, at least, don't you think that non-believers miss something important in the experience? A: I am interested in the modern claim that we have now found a way to replace religion: with art. You often hear people say, 'Museums are our new churches'. It's a nice idea, but it's not true, and it's principally not true because of the way that museums are laid out and present art. They prevent anyone from having an emotional relationship with the works on display. They encourage an academic interest, but prevent a more didactic and therapeutic kind of contact. I recommend in my book that even if we don't believe, we learn to use art (even secular art) as a resource for comfort, identification, guidance and edification, very much what religions do with art.
“A serious but intellectually wild ride. . . . One has to appreciate his pluck as much as his lucid, enjoyable arguments.” —Miami Herald
“Commonsensical and insightful. . . . The wealth of knowledge and felicity of phrasing that de Botton brings to his task make for a stimulating read.” —Seattle Times
“Quirky, often hilarious. . . . Focusing on just three major faiths—Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism—he makes a convincing case for their ability to create both a sense of community and education that addresses morality and our emotional life.” —Washington Post
“Compelling. . . beautifully and wittily illustrated.” —Los Angeles Times
“A wonderfully dangerous and subversive book.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A new book by Alain de Botton is always a treat. . . . De Botton is literate, articulate, knowledgeable, funny and idiosyncratic.” —Forbes.com
“De Botton writes at his best when he confronts our abiding human frailty. . . . If only all writers wrote with such unabashedly kind intentions.” —Huffington Post
“Provocative and thoughtful. . . . Particularly noteworthy are de Botton’s insights on what education and the arts can borrow from the formats and paradigms of religious delivery.” —The Atlantic
“The eminently quotable de Botton holds forth on the deliberately provocative premise that ancient traditions can solve modern problems. . . . The premise he is testing is a worthy one: The secular world worships consumerism, optimism, and perfection to its doom, and would do well to make room for a little humility, community, and contemplation instead.” —Boston Globe
“[De Botton] demonstrates his usual urbane, intelligent, and witty prose. . . . This book will advance amicable discussion among both believers and disbelievers.” —Library Journal
“Highly original and thought-provoking. . . . De Botton is a lively, engaging writer.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Excellent read, not just for Atheists, I learned a lot more about religion and history!Published 25 days ago by N. Uhl
We can do well without the supernatural, bigoted nonsense from the ancient world. But coming together regularly, in an atmosphere that inspires wonder and transcendence, that... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert K. Mateja
Like another reviewer, I found this book difficult to follow. I also thought that the author may be a latent/lapsed Catholic, as he constantly extolls the virtues of the Catholic... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Louise D. Somes
A call to thought and perhaps to action - in book form. This is a bit ironic, and acknowledged as such, in a book that urges us beyond books to the difficult and lengthy... Read morePublished 2 months ago by jinindy
I am a big fan of Alain and all his books. I have been reading almost all his book. He has good ideas. Nninoss.comPublished 2 months ago by Ninos Youkhana
I love reading Alain de Botton because he goes straight to the essence of the subject and then describes it
in an extremely digestible narrative. Would recommend this book.
As an interfaith hospital spiritual care worker, I read this book to learn more about the spirituality of my atheist patients. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Roxi
deliveredrapidlyingreatshapehavenotreadityethoweverilikeeverythingivereadsofarbydebotton.Published 5 months ago by Ralph