I’ve not read Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists, but I find this review fascinating, as I have observed this “pull” for meaningful ritual amongst many of my “post faith” friends.
Some are able to articulate along the lines suggested in the review – that community, rites of passage and symbolising meaning are sufficient reasons within themselves to engage in what might otherwise be viewed as religious practices.
Some progressive Christians (including myself) would recognise a “God factor” in this pull – the creative Spirit that is beyond institutionalised dogma and at large in and through the cosmos. De Botton is scorned by the more strident representatives of the “new atheism” – but to me there is the possibility that he’s strayed across to the no-man’s land where the missiles fly in from both polarities but where dialogue can take place. His TED talk on Atheism 2.0 invites response, for amongst some of the typical straw men, there are points of common meaning that can be teased out and explored to mutual benefit.
I would love to see a dialogue open between the likes of Alain de Botton and, say, recent vistor to Perth, Diarmuid O’Murchu