Category Archives: Tradition

“I’m interested in the emotions underneath these rituals, not the specifics”

Atheist-Christmas-007As a complement to my earlier post, here’s a quote from Alain de Botton’s Dec 23 article for The Guardian, in which he describes how secular thinkers might take advantage of aspects of Christmas:

“We live in a crowded but lonely world. The public spaces in which we typically encounter others – commuter trains, jostling pavements – conspire to project a demeaning picture of our identities, which undermines our capacity to hold on to the idea that every person is necessarily the centre of a complex and precious individuality. It can be hard to stay hopeful about human nature after a walk down Oxford Street. Locked away in our private cocoons, our chief way of imagining what other people are like has become the media, and as a consequence we naturally expect all strangers will be murderers, swindlers and paedophiles…

“The secular world often sees in [Christmas] rituals such as communal singing or eating a loss of diversity, quality and spontaneity. Religion seems bossy. But at its finest this ritual-based bossiness enables fragile but important aspects of life to be identified and shared.”

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