Many of us find ourselves in the odd situation of not believing in religion, but nevertheless being interested in it, moved by it and sympathetic to some of its aims. We may enjoy religious art and architecture, music and community, and even some of the rituals - while being unable to believe in the divine. This book is about those feelings and what we might do about them.
The School of Life is fascinated by the gaps left in modern society by the gradual disappearance of religion. As a secular organisation, we’re interested in the difficulties we face in finding a sense of community, how rituals are dying out and the way in which we sometimes crave the solemn quiet found in religious buildings.
A Replacement for Religion lays out how we might absorb the best lessons of religion, update them for our times and incorporate them into our daily lives: it tries to rescue some of what remains wise and useful from that which (for many of us) no longer seems quite true.
• Introduction: The Death of God
• The Ills of Modernity
• The Priestly Function
Extracts from the Book:
On The Ills of Modernity
“The conditions of modernity are in many ways profoundly better than those under which the vast majority of humanity lived for more or less the whole of history. But, along with its manifest benefits, modernity has brought a special range of troubles into our lives which we would be wise to try to unpick and understand.”
“We know - in theory - about resisting perfectionism, accepting melancholy, embracing an ordinary life, keeping room for the idea of tragedy and looking beyond anthropocentrism. And yet, in practice, any such ideas have a notoriously weak ability to motivate our actual behaviour and emotions. Our knowledge is both embedded within us and yet it is ineffective for us.
“The example of religions opens up a richer sense of what community could be - and in particular, and very concretely, it offers us a set of ideas about how we might go about constructing new kinds of community centers, which would capture the highest hopes for a more collective way of life.”
Hardback book | 191 pages | 181 x 110 mm