A recent David Brooks op-ed discussed Charles Taylor’s book A Secular Age. I think my key takeaway was the quote that people are “incapable of being indifferent to the transcendent”. People are rejecting organised religions since they are too educated and too well-informed to be able to accept the questionable parts that come with them. But that doesn’t mean that they are content with a daily life that has no spiritual aspects.
One of my favorite books of recent years, as I’ve mentioned before, is Alain De Botton‘s Religion for Atheists. De Botton highlights a number of ways for today’s secular, hurried and discerning person to regain some of the aspects that religion would have given them had they been born a hundred years ago. Some of my favorites include treating museums as churches that open our minds to new influences, and filling our calendar with regular times for ritual, the way the church year makes introspection structured and regular by designating specific days for it.
According to Brooks, Taylor says people are moving toward a galloping spiritual pluralism. Everyone wants to have their own religion in our age of individualism. De Botton’s structured approach could help them get there. A podcast that looks at spirituality in a similar vein is APM’s On Being. In it, Krista Tippett explores all today’s differing facets of spirituality, and all the ways people have of finding their own God, and their own connection with a higher sense of being. It offers many interesting takes on where faith pops up in our secular world. For me, the most interesting ones are the ones where religion, technology and philosophy intersects, such as this episode on string theory and this one on exoplanets.
With the growth of meditation in Silicon Valley, and Tim Ferriss offering his version of meditating, we’re seeing more and more examples of people being able to marry spirituality with science and knowledge. Seems like there is still hope that we can all achieve spiritual fulfillment even in this secular age.