A guidebook for living a life without religion, combining sociological insight and personal inspiration. Over the last 25 years, "no religion" has become the fastest growing religion in the United States. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people have turned away from the traditional faiths of the past and embraced a secular - or nonreligious - life, generating societies vastly less religious than at any other time in human history. Revealing the inspiring beliefs that empower secular culture - alongside real stories of nonreligious men and women, based on extensive in-depth interviews from across the country - Living the Secular Life is an indispensable handbook for millions of secular Americans. Drawing on innovative sociological research, Living the Secular Life illuminates this demographic shift with the moral convictions that govern secular individuals, offering crucial information for religious and nonreligious alike.
Living the Secular Life reveals that, despite opinions to the contrary, nonreligious Americans possess a unique moral code that allows them to effectively navigate the complexities of modern life. Spiritual self-reliance, clear-eyed pragmatism, and an abiding faith in the Golden Rule to adjudicate moral decisions, such common principles - among others - are shared across secular society. Living the Secular Life demonstrates these principles in action and points to their usage throughout daily life.
©2014 Phil Zuckerman (P)2014 Recorded Books
Ranking a non-fiction book like Living the Secular Life among all books I have read is difficult - I went to this book specifically for its content. Considering it for its content, it is excellent. Those of us who are purely secular have a difficult time living in a world where people can treat you less patriotic, less loving as parents, less moral as members of a community. Some of the information in this book helps to make it clear that this does not have to be true. The issue of ranking a book, though, can be that we all are drawn to media (books, newsprint, magazines, online information) that solidifies our positions. I'm no different and after selecting books like this, unless they go way off course [squirrel :-)] I often come out of reading them, enjoying the information gained because of that.
Although I don't have books I want to compare to it, I have read several Chris Hitchens' books and am interested in readings by people who have had religious convictions then lost them. Books I have read (from Audible) and liked include: What do you do with a Chocolate Jesus, Hope After Faith and The Selfish Gene.
It was easy to listen to the book with out distraction. I appreciate a voice that is not associated with a specific part of the country (or a different country.) This is, of course my bias. I want to hear the content not the reader.
l'enfer c'est les autres
This book is mostly a series of anecdotes based on first person accounts from persons who consider themselves secular and why they embrace that world view. There's nothing inherently wrong with using anecdotes for telling a consistent story and this book does a good job while doing it. I found all the characters profiled interesting and worth learning from.
There are two ways I try to understand my place in the world and the world view that I have. One is by looking at fact based non-fiction books and the other is by reading fiction. To me, the anecdotal ultimately reads like fiction because the plural of anecdote is not data, and it can only provide understanding through empathy but not knowledge.
The characters talked about in this book all seem to refute the generalizations theist often assert such as "I've never met a non angry atheist" (Rick Warren actual quote), "without god anything is possible" (Bill O'Reilly and Dostoevsky), "you must be angry at god", or "it's impossible to be an atheist" and so on.
For those who learn best by way of fiction or anecdotes this book will be a good and entertaining listen, as for me, give me data, which leads to information, that becomes knowledge and ultimately leads to understanding and wisdom.
p.s. I really think the author is wrong in equating secular beliefs with no belief in an after life. He did it in multiple places but I belief that one doesn't necessarily follow from the other.
This is a great work for people who face obstacles leading a Secular life. I'm lucky enough to live amongst a supportive community. For me this work was interesting in that I lack perspective on the challenges faced in other parts of the USA if you are a Secular person.
The author is right on in his explanation of the secular way of life. He analyzes the issue from all angles. Reading this helped me to solidify my own position on religion. Unfortunately, he finds it necessary to use difficult language throughout the book. For example, rather than saying "it is a good question", he might say "it is a sagacious query to be solicited". Completely unnecessary!!
I love how research is used to compare sociological outcomes /differences in societies which are more religious versus more secular, as well as the use of personal stories of individuals who have made a conscious effort to live secularly and how they manage it in our society. The author ended with a great encouragement to be forthright about not hiding our secular views from others, for those of us who have been afraid that we would be antagonizing our religious family and friends.
The reader was pleasant to listen to and did an excellent job. He even tried to pull off some southern accents somewhat successfully.
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