89 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Asking the right questions,
This review is from: Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion (Kindle Edition)
It's refreshing to read a book by an atheist that acknowledges religion isn't a complete waste of time and space and may in fact offer much that enriches human experience and helps us live together nicely (if only we could leave out the ridiculous stories and exploitative hegemonies!).
With deftness, wit, and a wry tone, de Botton explores some of religion's greatest hits, including wisdom, community, kindness, tenderness, perspective, education, architecture, and art. He shows us how effective religion is at what we might call a customer-centric approach to presenting itself and suggests many secular institutions like universities, art galleries, and museums might be much more effective at engaging us with our culture if they borrowed a few tips from the assorted god squads. My favourite is his suggestion that we order human knowledge and learning in easy to grasp thematic ways (stuff about love, loss, marriage etc) rather than the dull, inaccessible academic boffin way (19th century x-ism, early 20th century z-ism etc) we're all so fond of.
What's implied here is that we have a soul (psyche, imagination, heart, whatever) that used to be fed and sustained by religion, a soul that is now starved and in need of sustenance, a soul that needs regular doses of meaning and wisdom so we can make it through the day, a soul we ignore at our peril, a soul that rewards those who care for it, if only we could remember how to do that.
It's not all plain sailing, and some of de Botton's suggestions ring the "yeah, right" bell. But even when his answers are a big wobbly, the questions are smack on the money and must be asked, pondered, and contemplated. So read on, as I did, and dare to imagine how we as a secular society can better meet our great need for a life filled with soul, perhaps with a little help from religion's vast experience.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 27, 2012 8:18:54 PM PST
Bob B says:
I agree with Peter that this book is an extraordinarily valuable, readable and helpful read. Sprinkled with great humour and underpinned by a very positive view of humanity and our frailties and worth. I have not read any of Alain's other books but I surely will now.
Buy it, read it.
Bob Batey Warners Bay NSW Australia
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2012 3:29:42 AM PDT
I haven't read this book but I have read De Botton's "Status Anxiety" - was a terrific read.
Posted on Jan 10, 2013 9:38:12 PM PST
You might also enjoy Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. I am also an atheist and this is the one book I try to re-read every year as it also deals with sustenance for the "psyche, imagination, heart, whatever".
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