Thursday, 19 March 2009

Learning from religion

Over at This Humanist, Clare has just shared some thoughts on what religious communities do better (at the moment) than humanist communities.

Clare's general approach to humanism and to religion is pretty close to my own, and I agree with her here too. Among the other things in the post, she says, "Religious life creates community."

It's true that community can come from non-religious life too. There's a little community hall near the farm I grew up on - it used to be a schoolhouse - and I remember gathering there every year with several dozen neighbours to celebrate Halloween and Christmas. (I know, Christmas is nominally a religious holiday - but at least for me in that community, it was not about religion but about the celebration.)

But it's also true in my experience that, as an organized worldview, humanism does not do community as well as religions do. My guess is that it's down to experience: we haven't been organized as long as they have, and haven't worked out all the details needed to build a vibrant and nurturing community for all our members.

And so, like Clare, I think it would be sensible of us to see how our human neighbours have solved the problems we still grapple with.


  1. Thank you for the lovely mention!

  2. I agree. In fact I think that the most important thing humanism can do is create a community for non-religious people, where they can get many things that are currently almost exclusively the domain of religion, yet only through an accident of history and human biases.

    And I agree that humanism doesn't do it as well as religion. I hope it's a matter of experience.


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