Even though I am not a believer myself I have a tremendous respect for religions and religious people. For example, I absolutely love the spiritually themed On Being radio show.
I have noticed an upsurge in interest on the theme of the “positives” of religion, beyond those of faith and avoiding hell.
David Sloan Wilson, for example, has long argued that religion plays an important role in social organising and other eusocial matters. His book Darwin’s Cathedral was a fascinating exploration of this topic.
I recently heard an interview with Alan De Botton on the On Being radio show. He has an organisation called “school for atheists”. The idea is to take the very best of religion and make it available to the non-religious. I like this idea. I used to complain to my wife that I wished there were a secular church, somewhere I could go on a Sunday morning to sing hymns speak to like-minded people and enjoy all the benefits of a community of faith – but without the faith. My father, who was a lifelong atheist, used to regularly attend church because he loved the hymns and he loved the people who went to church, Even though he did not believe in the articles of faith or in god.
Like father like son I suppose?
Maybe this is why I don’t like the militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. They fervour is as repulsive to me as the zeal of the religious bigot. There is something frothy and unseemly about Mr Dawkins anti religious diatribes.
Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no time for religious bigotry in any form. But if you do give any year to religious folks, you will be very surprised to find that the vast majority have very well thought out positions that are consistent with having a considered life and, I suppose, faith.
There is also something refreshing about the sincerity that I so often see in the writings and speaking from religious people. They make no apology for believing what they believe. There is a quality of knowing what you’re getting. Okay this all sounds deeply patronising and in some ways obviously ludicrous. Perhaps I should modify what I’m saying to apply not to “religious people”, but to the religious people that I tend to encounter on my travels both across the Internet and in real life.
This post actually started out as an entirely different post. I was going to write about The Orthosphere, but that was sidelined by my long-winded pean for for the faithful.
What is the The Orthosphere?
Who We Are and What We Believe
Ortho: Right, correct, straight. As in orthodoxy (right teaching), orthogonal (literally, right-sided; thus, right angled; so, perpendicular, independent) and orthognomon (right knowledge, right indicator (as of a carpenter’s square or a sundial)).
Sphere: A domain, especially of influence. Thus,
Orthosphere: A domain of Christian orthodoxy independent of conventional conservatism.
We are Christians: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. We believe our religion is true, and we take the Bible and the Church Fathers as our guides to the faith. We do not innovate religiously, for that is folly.
We affirm our respective traditions where they disagree with the other branches of Christianity, but we do so respectfully, for we have much in common (catholic or mere Christianity) and our enterprise has as much to do with society as with religion.
Socio-politically, we can be called “traditionalist conservatives” or “Christian reactionaries.” Since we agree that Modernity—the fundamental principle of contemporary Western Civilization—is radically defective, we are branded “far-right.” In truth, we affirm what was regarded as self-evident by the vast majority of mankind until well into the Twentieth Century: Religion is true, authority is valid and good, man and woman differ in essential ways, and so on. If affirming reality puts us at the rightmost end of the political spectrum, as the world construes politics, then so be it.
We recognize that the societies of the West are radically disordered, and it is our desire that they move toward a more proper order, one which acknowledges Christianity. Although we are Christians, our primary concern here is not with how individual souls are to be saved from the wrath of God, but rather with how society ought to be ordered. Therefore both Christians and friendly non-Christians are welcome at the Orthosphere.
I cannot sign up to the belief in the Bible or many of the other things that members of this sphere believe, but I do follow this blog because I do believe that there is something valuable to learn from these traditionalists. I am a classic Western liberal who has spent his life fighting for, and arguing in support of, the Western Enlightenment and all that it entails. I am a Democrat, I believe in women’s rights, I believe in gay rights, I question all authority, I am a sceptic and doubter to the point of disbelief in God. That said, I’m open to learning and challenging myself by listening to and reading what the authors here The Orthosphere has to offer.
More: The Orthosphere