How Religion Can Make Friends of Strangers
Churches can create the context in which sociability can be made safe and expressed.
Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life.' He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. Alain's latest book is titled Religion for Atheists and is published in the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, Turkey and Brazil in 2011 and in the UK, US and other territories in 2012.
Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love [titled On Love in the US], was published when he was twenty-three.
One of the things that stop communities from forming is the lack of a host. What does a host do? A host gathers a group of people together and does a very simple job of releasing their sociability, of making sociability safe within, in some ways, a limited context. So, a day a week or in a particular building sociability can be made safe.
Nowadays in the modern city, in the anonymity of the modern republic, we tend to walk around with stern faces and do not talk to strangers. And we don’t talk to them because we think, guided by the media, that they’re all very strange, potentially murderers, pedophiles, crazy people so that we want nothing to do with them.
Churches and communities of the religious persuasion often brings strangers together and say, "Look, beneath the mask of strangeness, there is potentially goodness and sociability." And it creates the context in which sociability can be made safe and expressed.
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