A Book List

Love: Goethe – Sorrows of Young Werther Stendhal – On Love John Armstrong – Conditions of Love Alain de Botton – Essays in Love Roland Barthes – A Lover’s Discourse Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary Erich Fromm – The Art of Loving Plato – The Symposium Theodor Zeldin – An Intimate History of Humanity Sue Johnson – Hold me Tight. … Read more

A new priesthood: Psychotherapists

For centuries in the West, there was a figure in society who fulfilled a function that is likely to sound very odd to modern secular ears. He (there were no shes in the role) didn’t sell you anything or fulfill any material need, he couldn’t fix your ox cart or store your wheat, he was there to take care of … Read more

Why museums of art have failed us – and what they might learn from religions

You often hear it said that ‘museums of art are our new churches’: in other words, in a secularising world, art has replaced religion as a touchstone of our reverence and devotion. It’s an intriguing idea, part of the broader ambition that culture should replace scripture, but in practice art museums often abdicate much of their potential to function as … Read more

On Being Good: the Secular Virtues

Once we’re over about 12 years old, we’re seldom encouraged to be nice. We’re expected to make efforts in all kinds of areas (chiefly around work), but the idea of expending energy thinking about, and then practicing the art of kindness sounds bizarre, even eerie. The notion of trying to be a ‘good person’ conjures up all sorts of negative … Read more