As I was traversing a long road home from VA to PA this past Sunday morning, I was flipping through the radio dial and stopped on an NPR station that featured an interview with Alain De Botton who founded a center in London, England called The School of Life, where folks from all walks, could come and learn about life, the universe and everything. One thing to know is that De Botton considers himself someone who has no religious affiliation and yet, he has values and practices that for some, would be part and parcel of their own religious belief system. It sounded like a place I would want to visit and at which I would love to teach.
He has written a book that has an oxymoron for a title: Religion For Atheists. Controversial in its concept, it is based on the idea that one need not have a religious orientation in order to have sound and solid moral values and actions. He espouses the idea that rather than argue against religion and those who hold such beliefs, one could use the best of what spirituality has to offer and:
build a sense of community
- make our relationships last
- overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy
- escape the twenty-four hour media
- go travelling
- get more out of art, architecture and music
- and create new businesses designed to address our emotional needs.
At the core, all religions propose that certain rituals and practices are meant to help us live better lives. De Botton, the son of secular Jewish parents, expresses the beauty of the world without a belief in a God of creation and sustenance. He seemed to be at ease with his status, even in the face of people who object to his contention that there is no higher power, He laughingly shared that this book was raising a ruckus in both camps, since those who view themselves as religious, saw it as near sacrilege and those fellow athiests felt he betrayed their camp but gleaning anything of value from spirituality.
My own take is that there is a life force energy that permeates everything. I don’t think that the God of my understanding gets huffy if people don’t believe. I have no right to tell anyone what to believe, since it is an inside job. I express often that love is my religion and God’s too big to put in a box. What are your thoughts?
http://youtu.be/B4CRkpBGQzU What If God Was One of Us? -Joan Osborne