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A practical manual for living life on YOUR terms,
This review is from: Secular Wholeness: A Skeptic's Paths To A Richer Life (Paperback)
Excellent, methodical, well-organized user-friendly tour through the alternatives (a natural step back) to what religion claims are its territory, benefits and raison d'être.
David Cortesi is a retired computer programmer and author of books for software programmers. He brings the same methodical organization and analytical thinking to religion (and why not?!) You can use this as a manual about how to rewrite the code by which you live. You can also take back aspects of your life you might have donated to someone else's imaginary friend. There are no polemics, no smug edginess; just the facts.
Here is his clear start and premise--which he delivers on. "This book is a long answer to a short question. Here's the question: Can you build a vital, fulfilling life experience using methods and ideas that are purely secular, not based in religious doctrine?" Further on, he offers and invitation you will never hear from the necessary, good--and not wholly sufficient--battering ram of Dawkins et al, "If you are comfortable in a religious belief, understand that this book is about finding secular sources for things that your religious practice ought to be giving you. If you aren't getting them, I respectfully suggest you look deeper into your own faith. But you are certainly welcome to walk along with the rest of us on our quest!" This kind of disarming equanimity will allow people tentatively thinking through their lives an open door without the gale of a pent-up crusade.
At the same time, he is not a cream puff. As he says on page 12, when describing the stark choice religious folks often lay out for others: "you either accept a religious moral code or face the awful prospect of having the whole burden of designing and justifying a moral code dumped on you. And how are you going to select between differing 'opinions about good and evil?' Possibly by--oh, I don't know--thinking?"
Cortesi starts with the Benefits of Religious Practice and notes that each is can be met through secular means. That is the book. He lists the benefits and one-by-one show ways to derive them secularly. His list: existential validity, community, contemplation and tranquility, ritual and pageantry, mythical ecstasy, self-transcendence, ethical structure, and comfort facing death and loss. He addresses each one in about 20 pages with sub-chapters, footnotes and additional resources in recommended readings and web links.
With this tone and method, he calmly dissects any claims to special abilities, meta-mammalian knowledge, and allusions to an enigmatic 'more!' by showing the natural, everyday approach to each need. By doing so, he lays flat the very notion of additional benefits claimed by superstitious communities: He has let the hot air out of the balloon and we remain, feet firmly planted on the ground, enjoying our lives without the hijacking and distractions of other mammals' fantasies and wishful agenda.