Paperback review

Published in The Telegraph, 12/01/13

Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton

Starting from the premise that God is dead, Alain de Botton nevertheless insists secular society could do with the disciplines and practices enshrined by religion. He argues religion offers boundaries and insights that today’s corporations, universities and buildings lack. A Catholic Mass, for example, is a web of techniques to “strengthen congregants’ bonds of affection” and the Jewish Day of Atonement is a “psychologically effective mechanism” for the resolution of social conflict. Universities with relationships departments and e-Wailing Walls might help replace religion, but in penetrating, stately prose, de Botton ultimately presents religion as the greatest source of practical advice on how to live our lives.

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