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Sat Mar 10, 2012, 08:35 PM

Atheist Alain de Botton challenges Hitchens’ assertion that ‘religion poisons everything’

National Post Staff
Mar 10, 2012 – 3:37 PM ET
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2012 3:40 PM ET
By Joseph Brean

Alain de Botton, the British pop philosopher whose new book Religion for Atheists has made him the friendly face of modern godlessness, told an audience at the Art Gallery of Ontario Friday that the art was arranged wrong, and would nourish the soul better if it were split into themes like motherhood and courage, rather than “contemporary” and “Canadian” galleries.

“You often hear it said that art galleries are our new churches,” he said. “Perhaps, in some ways, our approach to art is not going as well as it might have done.”

“We need art to bring to light neglected truths, to show what would otherwise be dismissed as clichés,” said Mr. de Botton, in a lunch-hour talk about how the rituals of religion can be scavenged for secular benefit, in everything from weddings and funerals to the contemplation of beauty.

“Works of art are pieces of propaganda. There are ways of propagandizing on nice things.”

http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/03/10/atheist-alain-de-botton-challenges-hitchens-assertion-that-religion-poisons-everything/

13 replies, 1956 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Atheist Alain de Botton challenges Hitchens’ assertion that ‘religion poisons everything’ (Original post)
rug Mar 2012 OP
immoderate Mar 2012 #1
Starboard Tack Mar 2012 #2
immoderate Mar 2012 #7
Starboard Tack Mar 2012 #8
Warren Stupidity Mar 2012 #13
SDjack Mar 2012 #3
Warren Stupidity Mar 2012 #4
intaglio Mar 2012 #5
mr blur Mar 2012 #6
cbayer Mar 2012 #9
rug Mar 2012 #10
Warren Stupidity Mar 2012 #12
Jim__ Mar 2012 #11

Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Mar 10, 2012, 08:41 PM

1. I really can do without this de Botton guy.

The art and music could just have well been about other things. The rituals are what I dislike the most.


--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 10, 2012, 08:48 PM

2. What about the rituals do you dislike?

Do you dislike all ritual, or just religious rituals?

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 11:54 AM

7. Most all ritual and ceremony.

Do you salute the flag every day? Or do you think it's a torture we should reserve for children?

It's poetic beauty aside, how many times must god hear the 23rd Psalm to believe a supplicant?

Can sports be conducted without singing the 'Banner?

I can tolerate ritual somewhat for unique events like weddings, funerals, or dispensing awards.

I understand that there are some that feel differently. I know of atheists that like church rituals. Personally, I am more into jazz than opera.

--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #7)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 01:27 PM

8. Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel too

I think people find comfort and reassurance in the rituals. "If everyone else is taking part then there must be something valid in it". Not conducive to independent thinking, but some rituals verge on hypnotic brainwashing.
Making kids cite the Pledge of Allegiance is really screwed up.

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Response to immoderate (Reply #7)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 03:18 PM

13. I find the crotch scratch and chaw spit ritual of MLB truly enlightening.

It is in those moments that I feel a sense of the divine.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Mar 10, 2012, 08:58 PM

3. When I read it explained by de Botton, I can see that Hitch was correct.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sat Mar 10, 2012, 09:18 PM

4. de Botton is so far up religion's ass he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And as an art curator he sucks.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 08:26 AM

5. Sounds like a rehash of the old "Harry Lime" argument

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

and it remains untrue. What Harry forgot was that the Swiss provided the mercenaries that fought many of these wars.

In Europe and the Middle East religion and the kings supported by religion were the only ones with excess income sufficient to support "art". Look outside this limited sample to India, China and Japan and, although temples supported art because they were wealthy, secular art was at least as important. In the pre-Christian Roman Empire private citizens had masterpiece mosaics and paintings made and most of the architecture was commissioned from non-religious sources.

Basically I'm saying de Botton is talking as "de Bottom" with foul and odorous noise.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 09:18 AM

6. de Botton is fast becoming The Man To Ignore.

Leave him talking to himself in his Atheist Temple.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 01:31 PM

9. I guess it would be inappropriate for me to say something about No True Scotsman here

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Response to cbayer (Reply #9)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 01:38 PM

10. Indeed.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #9)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 03:15 PM

12. heh - well the problem isn't that de Botton is not a true atheist

the problem is that he is infatuated with the facade of religion. And with himself.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 11, 2012, 01:52 PM

11. I wonder if de Botton visited the exhibits before speaking.

When I read his statement, I thought it made some sense. Not that the current arragement was wrong, but that a different arrangement could trigger different responses from viewers. But when I went to the web page for AGO, I'm not sure what exhibits he's referring to. There is a Canadian exhibit, and a contemporary art exhibit. But the Canadian exhibit that I found is an exhibition of Canadian industrial photography. An excerpt:

Songs of Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today includes more than 100 photographs – by such figures as William Notman, Alexander Henderson, Richard Maynard, J.C.M. Hayward, John Vanderpant, E. Haanel Cassidy, George Hunter, Bill Vazan, Ralph Greenhill, Geoffrey James, Edward Burtynsky, Peter MacCallum, Steven Evans, Jesse Boles, and Isabelle Hayeur – most drawn from the AGO’s permanent collection, and many of which have never been shown.

Featuring sites from the west coast to the Maritimes, the exhibition showcases this other landscape tradition in Canadian art and the Canadian photographers who have described, evoked, celebrated, and cast a critical eye on our industrial landscapes for more than 150 years.



And a contemporary art exhibit that features both Canadian and non-Canadian artists and also has a stronger theme than just contemporary art. An excerpt:





Watch This Space: Contemporary Art from the AGO Collection invites visitors to consider how the universal concept of space has inspired artists and how it affects our own lives. Compelling works in a variety of media by both Canadian and international artists explore issues and ideas related to space — be it physical locations, psychological realms or the interstitial places that exist somewhere between the real and the imagined. The installation includes longstanding collection favourites as well as new acquisitions.


I'm not sure these are the exhibits that de Botton is referring to, but if they are, I can see why they might be exhibited separately.

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