Alain de Botton’s pastoral atheism – Eureka Street

Alain de Botton’s pastoral atheism – Eureka Street.

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

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

2 thoughts on “Alain de Botton’s pastoral atheism – Eureka Street

  1. I received a copy of Patrick McCabe’s article this afternoon. For me, this highlights further how the Christian Church has failed to ‘get the message across.’ If athiests argue that religious people are ‘childish, irrational, needy and vulnerable’, then we are being understood as being very shallow. Does our worship create an engagement with our living God? Are we really about transforming lives – guiding people to put off the old self centred ego driven nature for the ‘new and true self’ in Chirst; are we just a friendly group of people or a forgiving, reconciled, missional community [emphasis on UNITY of ALL beleivers of ALL races and backgrounds?
    DeBotton seems to be applying the principles of ‘receptive ecumenism’ where we look to other denominations for what gift the Holy Spirit has revealed in their practice, mission and witness that would be beneficial to our own.


  2. Keith, a little bit of introspection all round is not a harmful thing and, when shared, leads to some creative and imaginative results. Mind you, opponents on both sides would like to keep the caricatures alive for practice shooting! Often we oblige! I agree, however, that the receptive ecumenism principle can and should be broadly applied.


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