Well, I just had a thought and I’d like to run it by everyone. This isn’t a well-developed idea, just something that was running through my mind as I was making that second cup of coffee.
Now, if anyone is actually happy with the Sunday Assemblies and similar concepts, keep on going to them. I know I’ve mocked them, but at some level I just have to admit they are simply not to my taste. Enough people have made similar gripes, so I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. It occurred to me that maybe we should take a page out of the practices of a different religious group.
Christian Scientists make skeptics more than a bit irate due to their position on medicine, and I’m sure that the fact that I’ve borrowed the idea from Christian Scientists will not thrill anyone. First, I would like to mention that I have a few close personal friends who are Christian Scientists and, except for their position on medicine, they’re not any crazier than any other believers. It might also be worth adding here that they don’t actually believe in faith healing. Christian Science was related to the Transcendental Movement. For those of you who are not from the U.S., Transcendentalism was a religious movement that arose in the United States in the nineteenth century. You can see its very American nature in its emphasis on individualism and self-reliance. Originally it grew out of Unitarianism and incorporated elements of Idealism, Romanticism, Swedenborgianism and Hinduism. A variety of American religious and philosophical movements grew out of Transcendentalism.
The aspect of Christian Science that I think could be very useful for atheists, agnostics, skeptics and related groups is the Christian Science Reading Room. If you live in the U.S., you’ve almost certainly walked by one. It is seen as a public service and is both a library and a bookstore.
They were created to provide both a quiet place for reading, study and prayer and a means for the public to come into contact with Christian Science.
I think this idea would be especially amenable for atheism. Were it ever created, I would hope that we could follow our own principles about “free-thought” and not be too terribly narrow in what we included.
Any thoughts on this?