In my last post, I critiqued the conclusion Alain de Botton draws from the book of Job about man’s insignificance. The creation does not serve to remind man that he is small and inconsequential. It does just the opposite.
However, the book of Job does bring up significant questions.
These 42 chapters, although probably the earliest written in the Bible, poignantly capture four questions common to all men, in all societies, throughout all time. All the great world religions are attempts to answer and deal with these universal questions.
Religion, as old as humanity itself, has always managed throughout all millennia to capture man’s mind afresh.
Alain de Botton’s new book, ‘Religion for Atheists’, seems to reinforce this fact.
As much as man may rail against the idea of God or certain portrayals of God, he has a hard time of ever doing away with, once and for all, the question of God and religion. Even some of the most radical proponents of atheism, Feuerbach and Nietzsche, remained fascinated by these questions until the end of their lives.
A while back I read another one of Alain’s books, ‘The Art of Travel.’ Alain is an excellent writer and in general can poetically elucidate many aspects of life. Yet even this very human book on travel draws on religious and theological sources.
The world has lost its bearings. Not that ideologies are lacking, to give directions: only that they lead nowhere. People are going round in circles in the cage of their planet, because they have forgotten that they can look up to the sky… Because all we want is to live, it has become impossible for us to live. Just look around you!
-Eugene Ionesco, founder of the theater of the absurd, 1972
I recently read Alain de Botton WSJ op-ed article entitled “Religion for Everyone.”
In it he suggests importing the Christian love (agape) feast into secular society to remedy the threatened and waning sense of community apparent in postmodern life.