One of the downsides of stepping away from organised religion is the loss of community. For many years I was a member of a wider church in constant dialogue with people with similar beliefs and worldviews. Stepping away left me in a lonely place. Who do you hang with to wax lyrical with some of the continuing philosophical conversations going on inside your head? What other similar communities exist out there which provide a similar space without the religious dogma that I stepped away from?
I tried Facebook groups and that went a bit awry. Twitter is cool but not a replacement for the deeper conversations plus I have scared some people. I know. I saw the unfollows. I prefer face to face discussions anyways, and not dominated by just one train of thinking or belief, or speaker, or panel, but I have been lost as where to go for this. Not every one can make it to Nando’s when you want them to! I soon realised the make up of many of my social groups were in the following categories.
I love the guys at The School of Life but having to pay £20 a week to have those deeper conversations does not quite tie up to my idea of regular deeper thinking. I ventured to a couple of philosophy groups but to be honest they were….well….quite wet and full of Hampstead Heath types.
Funnily enough, today I came across an article in the BBC about an atheist church. Meeting in a deconsecrated building atheists get to discuss some stuff. The irony is not lost on me but even though it is not quite my cup of tea I like the direction this grouping is taking. A meeting of minds with a sense of wonder not limited by dogma or religious mores. As an agnostic am not sure if I would quite enjoy it but I may visit one day. Who knows?
Alain de Botton in his TED Talk, Atheist 2.0 highlights some of the things non believers (in his case atheists) could learn from religion.
I like this way of thinking but I don’t want a church. I just want to meet some people on a regular basis, offline, to talk about life and the wonder of the universe over coffee/ tea/ lemon water. Open minded enough to debate with people of opposing views or opinions, and a bit more cross cultural than some of the philosophy groups I have been exposed too. Is that too much to ask?