For many of us, the word "religious" immediately evokes thoughts of brainwashing, violence and eye-rubbingly tiresome conversations. Why not be done with it? David Dark argues that it's not that simple. The ease with which we put the label on others without applying it to ourselves is an evasion, a way of avoiding awareness of our own messy allegiances. Dark writes: "If what we believe is what we see is what we do is who we are, there's no getting away from religion." Both incisive and entertaining, Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious combines Dark's keen powers of cultural observation with candor and wit. With equal parts memoir and analysis, Dark persuasively argues that the fact of religion is the fact of relationship. It's the shape our love takes, the lived witness of everything we're up to for better or worse, because witness knows no division. Looking hard at our weird religious background (Dark maintains we all have one) can bring the actual content of our everyday existence-the good, the bad and the glaringly inconsistent-to fuller consciousness. By doing so, we can more practically envision an undivided life and reclaim the idea of being "religious."
"In an age with 'religion' is often viewed as a dirty word, author and theologian David Dark wants to reclain the term. Through storytelling and accessible prose, Dark deconstructs negative connotations of religion as well as common assumptions about a divide between the secular and sacred."
"Dark has given us a book that is beautiful and timely, one that initiates a vital public conversation about the nature of religion and its benefits. I suspect many of those who identify as 'spiritual but not religious' would discover a winsome conversation partner, even if they do not agree with the way he defines all his terms. Because of its conversational nature, Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious begs to be read and discussed in churches, coffee shops, homes, and libraries across North America. . . . Dark has given us a compelling and meaningful understanding of how religion can lead to a more connected life of flourishing. And I'm not ashamedindeed, I'm delightedto wave that banner in the public square."
"[Dark] writes with humor and wit about our 'weird' religious backgrounds and our need to develop a 'language of love' based on sharing the things that are most important to us. Saying to someone 'I think you might like this' becomes a way of letting them know they have been seen, that we share common interests, and that we welcome their participation in something we hold sacred. Religion so handled is presented as a potent means of overcoming our isolation and building and sustaining community."
"Dark suggests that religion is the way people see themselveswho they are and what they do. Religion shapes people's thoughts and lives. Religion gets passed down from generation-to-generation through thoughts and stories. Dark shares personal stories from his own life to study our ideas of what religion is. He will open readers' minds to perhaps a new way of thinking about religion."
"Having just finished David Dark's new book, I want to buy stock in Religion Unlimited, meaning that David helps us see why pronouncing religion dead or dying is terribly short-sighted. The writing is muscular yet graceful, and the content is wise and insightful. You couldn't ask more from a book . . . and you couldn't ask for a more important subject."
"With candor and humor, (Dark) synthesizes a broad range of cultural voices alongside his own 'attention collection' of personal influences to create an argument against the thought that we can escape religion. . . . Through references to science fiction novels, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, and Daniel Berrigan, Dark sheds light on how thoughts are handed down to us, what we judge to be essential, and the ways in which we can begin to unlearn all that we have unwittingly inherited. Dark's argument couched in a memoir is a persuasive, well-grounded case for religion's place in modern society."
"While not a novel or sectarian position, it is refreshing that this approach comes from an avowed Christian. Anyone who wishes to get beyond the acrimony between believers and secularists will appreciate Dark's narrative, even if they wonder whether religion differentiates good from bad."
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