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Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old…

Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions

by Phil Zuckerman

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About the author: quoting from the book's dust jacket, "Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He [has written other books on secularism] and blogs for 'Psychology Today' and the 'Huffington Post.' In 2011 Zuckerman founded an interdisciplinary Department of Secular Studies at Pitzer College, the first in the nation." About the book, Greg M. Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of 'Good Without God,' said of this work, "Phil Zuckerman is without a doubt the leading American sociologist of secularism. And with American secularizing more rapidly and profoundly now than in any previous era in our history, Zuckerman's work has become essential reading for everyday people who want to understand religion--and the nonreligious--in this country. 'Living the Secular Life' represents the next big chapter in a centuries-old story, so if you've ever taken an interest in Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et al., you certainly need to pick this book up and find out where things are headed." This work includes extensive chapter notes, a bibliography and is well indexed.
  uufnn | Aug 16, 2017 |
This has been on my List for a while. Extensive anecdotal "New" answers here, although at times academically presented. Not new to me, but perhaps to many...or...most? Zuckerman covers a lot in showing a different take on the common questions asked. I don't think it will convince the pious - or part-time pious. Nor will it have much impact on the irreligious. But the stories might help those who have difficulty explaining to those who have difficultly understanding.

Assigning this as part of our home-education curriculum. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it provides helpful insights into secular beliefs and value systems. It presents some good viewpoints and arguments. On the other hand, some of the research seems cherry picked and presented without its important context. At times, the author seems condescending to those who are religious and like he's trying too hard to convince the religious that secular living isn't amoral. I think secular living is a topic worth learning more about and worth discussing with others. ( )
  EllsbethB | May 29, 2016 |
My goal for 2016 is to read the same amount as non-fiction as fiction. This book was an excellent start to the year! My one regret is that I didn't pick it up a year ago when a friend first recommended it to me. ( )
  strandbooks | Jan 10, 2016 |
Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies, and presents here an interesting overview of secular living based on his extensive research and study. After a discussion of the rising trend in secularism in our culture (which in itself is interesting), he then, in each of eight chapters, focuses on a different life issue or topic and discusses the secular approach to each. Issues include: morality, community, death & dying, trying times and raising children. "A life lived without religion is not 'nothing', the author says, perhaps to those who are convinced it is or must be. Turns out that we secular people are very diverse in our beliefs but tend as a sociological group to share "certain key traits and values" in common; such as, self-reliance, freedom of thought, intellectual inquiry, cultivating autonomy in children, pursuing the truth, basing morality on the empathetic reciprocity embedded in the Golden Rule*, accepting the inevitability of our eventual death, navigating life with a sober pragmatism grounded in this world (not the next), and still enjoying a sense of deep transcendence now and then amid the inexplicable, inscrutable profundity of being."

I've read a lot in the subject of religion over the years, even took some classes to broaden my perspective (comparative history of, and the sociology of). It has intrigued me, not only because I once was religious, and I could now explore it from the "outside", but because of how it functions in societies, the positive and the negative. But I have never read a book about secularism, which is the life I have pretty much been living for the last 35 years or so.

This book is a kind of manifesto for those of us who live without religion, but it is also meant for those readers who are religious who might wish to understand those who are not. There is no religion-bashing in this book. I found the book well-written, interesting, and inspiring in spots (although I admit to skimming some of the illustrative stories), and I heartily recommend it.

*which predates the Christian Bible. ( )
4 vote avaland | Mar 9, 2015 |
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Over the last twenty-five 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 moral yet nonreligious--or secular--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. Zuckerman is a sociologist who in this groundbreaking book writes clearly, offers unobtrusive statistical support, and provides a persuasive and comprehensive look at the growing contemporary phenomenon of people who choose to live without religion, but with ethics and meaning in their lives.… (more)

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