Repost-A Few Wednesday Thoughts Towards a Theme

Recently, British thinker Alain De Botton floated the idea of building an ‘atheist temple’ in the heart of London.  He recommends combing through religious practices for useful organizing principles in response to the New Atheists.  You can read more about it here, which includes a radio interview/podcast.

Did the Unitarian Universalists get there first, with a mishmash of faith and secular humanism?

Towards a theme: Perhaps you’ve also heard of the Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas:

‘The Rothko Chapel, founded by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A tranquil meditative environment inspired by the mural canvases of Russian born American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the Chapel welcomes over 60,000 visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world.’

There’s even a suite of music by Morton Feldman, entitled ‘Rothko Chapel’


Simon Schama has a four-part series on Rothko available on Youtube.

Here’s Robert Hughes, whom I’d identify as an art critic with roots in the Anglo-American tradition.

“Mark Rothko was obsessed with the idea of an abstract art that would carry the full weight of religious meaning.”

Sadly, Rothko killed himself.  To be fair, that was a tall order to fill.  Hughes’ also discusses the American romantics, brushing up against the wide open wilderness, and raising questions of transcendence in the linked video.

Like me, you may have gotten a whiff of something almost New Age about the chapel.  Here are some people congregating there to do yoga:


Lastly, to beat my favorite horses, I just wanted to contrast the above with the portions of our politics and culture which depend upon traditional religion, and upon resistance to the pursuit of virtue through collectivist political philosophies, which often finds common ground in secular humanism:

Addition:  Big theme, small blog?  Does art always seek its own space?

Related On This Site: Douthat argues that organized religion is on the decline in America, and in its place are rising new-age, self-help, mega-churches, and vague spirituality: Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Divided By God’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & AtheismRepost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Repost: A Debate: Would We Better Off Without Religion?…One of the new atheists and a 68er and socialist, materialist and relentless critic of religion, and especially faith: Via Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue

Nussbaum argues that relgion shouldn’t be a source for the moral laws From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

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