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From the author of The Architecture of Happiness, a deeply moving meditation on how we can still benefit, without believing, from the wisdom, the beauty, and the consolatory power that religion has to offer. Alain de Botton was brought up in a committedly atheistic household, and though he was powerfully swayed by his parents' views, he underwent, in his mid-twenties, a crisis of faithlessness. His feelings of doubt about atheism had their origins in listening to Bach's cantatas, were further developed in the presence of certain Bellini Madonnas, and became overwhelming with an introduction to Zen architecture. However, it was not until his father's death -- buried under a Hebrew headstone in a Jewish cemetery because he had intriguingly omitted to make more secular arrangements -- that Alain began to face the full degree of his ambivalence regarding the views of religion that he had dutifully accepted. Why are we presented with the curious choice between either committing to peculiar concepts about immaterial deities or letting go entirely of a host of consoling, subtle and effective rituals and practices for which there is no equivalent in secular society? Why do we bristle at the mention of the word "morality"? Flee from the idea that art should be uplifting, or have an ethical purpose? Why don't we build temples? What mechanisms do we have for expressing gratitude? The challenge that de Botton addresses in his book: how to separate ideas and practices from the religious institutions that have laid claim to them. In Religion for Atheists is an argument to free our soul-related needs from the particular influence of religions, even if it is, paradoxically, the study of religion that will allow us to rediscover and rearticulate those needs. Meeting format: * We meet to discuss the book after having read it beforehand. * A facilitator guides the discussion ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, one person at a time. * Afterwards we may enjoy non-fictional food & drinks at a nearby establishment. * Warning: Participation in a book club is a dangerous activity. You may encounter opinions different from yours. By joining the group you agree to assume all risks.
(You are welcome to join us - no RSVP is required for your first WestGTA meetup and the wait list is not monitored. If you have any questions about the WestGTA meetings, contact Helen.) Talaga, a veteran investigative reporter for the Toronto Star, has crafted an urgent and unshakable portrait of the horrors faced by indigenous teens going to school in Thunder Bay, Ontario, far from their homes and families. Since the early twentieth century, indigenous children living on Native reservations in northwestern Ontario have lacked access to a quality education. A child's best shot at a bright future is to move away from home and attend school in one of the bigger nearby cities, like Thunder Bay. Aside from the premature launch, indigenous teenagers face a myriad of hardships while attending big-city high schools rampant racism, extreme underage alcohol and substance abuse, along with physical and sexual violence. Talaga chronicles seven untimely and largely unsolved deaths that have taken place among Native Thunder Bay students since the new millennium.
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it. Meeting format: * We meet to discuss the book after having read it beforehand. * A facilitator guides the discussion ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, one person at a time. * Afterwards we may enjoy non-fictional food & drinks at a nearby establishment. * Warning: Participation in a book club is a dangerous activity. You may encounter opinions different from yours. By joining the group you agree to assume all risks.