While I don't buy into all of Alain de Botton's version of Religion for Atheists, he makes good points about learning to meet social/emotional needs and building communities.

In Six Reasons We Can't Change The Future Without Progressive Religion Sara Robinson points out how essential progressive religion has been in the US for liberal change. If we don't want to concede moral authority to faith in ghosts we'd better learn to replace the functions of those institutions with a secular foundation.

...all successful religions thrive and endure because they offer their adherents a variety of effective community-building, social activism, and change management tools that, taken together, make religion quite possibly the most powerful social change technology humans have ever developed.

There is simply no other organizational form that encourages people to share their time, energy, and resources so quickly, completely, or enduringly; or aligns so much conviction toward the same goal. (This is why the leaders of corporations, the marketers of sports teams, and the military all study religious cultures, and try to appropriate their tribe-building techniques for their own purposes.)

...religious narratives center people in the long arc of history, telling them where they came from, who they are, what they are capable of, and what kind of future is possible. [emphasis mine]

We need to begin with a moral secular narrative to serve this centering function.

Religion is the native home of the prophetic voice -- the voice that calls people to transformative change.

I hear no prophetic voice calling for transformative change in the current atheist movement. Our unfolding crisis of Climate Destabilization calls for one. The greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced needs a secular prophetic voice to mobilize the world to transform for sustainability.

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Hi friend...
It has been long time that i have been out of this site...
a year ago, exactly the date of today last year, u made a contribution above, titled OUR POLITICAL NEED TO LEARN FROM RELIGION. As of now that idea fascinates me, as a strategy to get non-theists organized regularly. it is ironic that non-theists while are not necessarily anarchists (or are they?) yet shun / dislike hierarchies even of their own yet they need one to get forward to the next level...
its (what) a catch 22 situation...
have a nice day
Wasalaam from Dar es salaam

Nsaijigwa, community organization doesn't have to be hierarchical. There are effective leadership models which emphasize skills in coordinating ideas and efforts among people who are respected as equals, even though one may be designated as leader of a given project or for a given time.

Hierachical power structures are part of Dominator Culture. Partnership Culture is a much better fit for moving forward today. Using religions for comparison, the Catholic Church epitomizes Dominator structure, where the way a Quaker Meeting is run epitomizes a Partnership approach. There's no reason we couldn't run Atheist Community Groups with a revolving leadership Democratic approach.

Anarchists make up a very small fraction of Atheists. For example, here at AN, Anarchist Atheists has 77 members, and their last activity was Nov 5, 2012. By comparison Godless in the Garden has 142 members and their last activity was Friday. Atheist Morality has 414 members and their last activity was May 28th. (Just picking two interest groups at random.)

Thanks Ruth...it enlighten

Thanks for the post, Ruth. I am glad I checked back in with Atheist Nexus after being away for a while..

The subject of community building is one that I would like to learn more about. I have done some reading and observation. I wonder what others' thoughts are on the ideas of personal commitment to a community and the notion of someone being naturally part of a community without their conscious action or participation.

As for personal commitment, our society, at least our urbanized society, offers so many ways that individuals can live around large numbers of other people without being compelled to commit to or participate in their local communities either through formal institutions or informal groups or relations with their neighbors and co workers. I am guilty of this myself. What are ways to create communities (hopefully of more than 10 people) that engage people such that they want to be a part of it and commit to it? Is it actually possible?

Religious communities rely on meme infection, sometimes likened to offering someone a band-aid after you've cut them. Most communities meet our  instinctive need for social bonds and for some kind of validation, sometimes they meet other needs such as practical or aesthetic. Commitments are a mechanism to enhance cohesion, setting the group apart from the rest of the world as well as making it tighter.

I'm wary of participants who need commitment. My late brother was a fundamentalist Xian. He said once that he was drawn to a leader because he demanded tithing. My brother seemed to need someone to take over his life. Most atheists, in my view, are excessively fearful of commitment and cohesion-building rituals. We seem to fear being taken over, as if we imbued groups with powers to control us very easily. Just lighting a few candles can be scary to some. Don't ask them to hold hands, sing, and sway.

Consider the basic structure of AN, it's topic oriented, as if we were here for exchanging information rather than for socializing. It seems our anxiety about social community runs deep.




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