Alain De Botton

March 27th, 2012

Our first stop on our Spring break trip was in Lawrence, Kansas where we paused briefly to hear author Alain de Botton speak on his latest book, Religion for Atheists.

But before I tell you about Alain, I feel that I must tell you about the supernatural force(s) that have been at work in my life of late.

One day several months ago when I was deep in the midst of reading every book written by Frank Schaeffer, I found myself wrestling with an undeniable thirst to find out a bit more about him and his books. A quick internet search led me to Frank’s blog which revealed that Frank was soon to be speaking in my own neck of the woods!  As a result of this happy chance, I was able to drive to Omaha and hear Mr. Schaeffer talk and ask him a few questions and even get his autograph on several books!  At the time I shrugged off this lucky chain of events as mere happenstance and thought nothing more of it. Little was I to know, that stumbling upon world renowned authors who just happen to be traveling through my area was to become an regularly unexplained phenomenon in my life. For just a few months later, I once again googled upon a famous skeptic/author who had plans to be within shootin’ distance of my own little house on the prairie. This time the author was Alain de Botton and as a result I could no longer accept that these seemingly random events were happening to me merely out of chance.  Clearly there had to be some force… some presence… some supernatural entity guiding and directing the traffic of my life.  How else could it be that in only a few months time I was able to stumble across lectures by two world renowned authors on topics specifically related to atheism, skepticism, and mockery of the religious right?  Clearly a power much larger than I is at work in my life steering me deeper and deeper into an unrepentant denial of anything supernatural at all.

But how could this be?

Why would a supernatural force work so valiantly to get me to NOT believe in a supernatural force?

Why would (it?) direct my fingers to make these searches and then propel me to travel and listen to these same speakers that only serve to fan the flames of my die hard skepticism?

Either this force wants me to burn in hell forever…


This force is kind of weirdly into self harm?

Either way! I can’t deny that something out there is guiding me into further believing that nothing out there is guiding me.

And that is how I found out about Alain de Botton.

Who wrote a book called Religion for Atheists. (In case you forgot about that part already).

I have not read this book yet because I have been reading lots of other good books instead.  But I did go hear Alain speak and if the content of his lecture at all matches up with the content of his book, it would appear that de Botton’s chief complaint regarding atheists is that they don’t appreciate the finer things about religion.

(WTF Alain?)

Evidently by “finer things” he means…

Things like art…

And architecture…

And nature…

And music…
And literature

And poetry…

And meditation, community, rituals, blah, blahdee, blah, etc, etc, etc…

Which is fine and good…

Except that I kind of do appreciate art and go see it often…

And architecture… which I love, love, love – (Clinton Museum – Little Rock, Arkansas)

And nature… (love it, but please no more camping).

And music… always.

And literature… used books.  My favorite!

And poetry…

Like the incredible poem I just composed above.

Okay – maybe I could work on this one a bit…

And though I am not to into meditation these days, I like to think I participate in a variety of communities – friends, workmates, family…

And for me – making a good pot of tea and sitting down to enjoy it, is the best ritual I have ever known.

I’m not saying that I can’t improve on appreciating the wonder and beauty of life, but I also don’t think I have a huge blank spot in that area.


I did buy an extra copy of de Botton’s book.

And he even autographed it and everything!

If you would like a chance to get a copy of this book, just leave a comment.

I will say that he is an excellent speaker, very witty and very British.  I really enjoyed him and hope to someday soon enjoy his book.

He also wrote the best seller – How Proust Can Change Your Life, which the CD is currently reading.  He is enjoying that book very much and every once in a while will read a passage aloud to me while chuckling under his breath and insisting that somehow this book with the most horrible title I have ever heard of is highly entertaining.

I am not doing a very good job at making you want to read de Botton’s book am I?

Let me see if I can do better…

Alain de Botton is British.

So, when he talks, he sounds like he knows very, very important things.

He could basically be talking about gluing cheerios onto paper plates and you would think he was a genius.

I am absolutely positive that his books are much the same.


Not about the cheerios and the glue… but about the genius…

Oh dear!

Here’s the deal…

Alain de Botton is known as a modern day philosopher.  He is very witty.  Plus English accent.  Plus he once wrote a book with the name Proust in it and even with that extreme handicap it became a best seller.

So how can you not be at least a little curious about his book?

So leave a comment and make both myself and de Botton feel better about his unfortunate book titles and the fact that I am pushing a book that I haven’t even read.

Here is a clip of him talking.  This is basically the same exact talk that I heard at KU.  Maybe he will do a better job of selling himself than I am.

Alrighty then…


  • Rhonda H.:

    I agree with you. A British accent adds at least 40 points to anyone’s IQ!

  • Jill:

    Is that Prospero’s in the photo? Love that bookstore. Both of the books sound quite interesting.

    • Rechelle:

      Yes it is.

  • nonsensequitter:

    I love this post. I would be very interested to read Alain’s book. I could listen to him talk all day.

  • “I can’t deny that something out there is guiding me into further believing that nothing out there is guiding me.”

    By jove, I think you’ve got it.

  • Goodness yes, I’d love to win a copy of ANYTHING you recommend. BTW, how many boys do you have, 3 or 4? I was trying to figure out which ones were yours in the photo.

  • Marissa:

    definitely worth a read. thanks for sharing.

  • Catherine:

    Alain is Swiss, from a Sephardic Jewish background. He went to boarding school in the UK and then stayed. He is often interviewed on the radio here. He worked as a writer in residence for a while at Heathrow Airport in West London, one of the busiest airports in the world.

    • Rechelle:

      I was wondering about the origin of his name. And now that I know this about him, I am still wondering. What does a writer in residence in an airport do? Very curious.

      • Kait:

        Oh we had one of those at Vancouver International. Only he was blogging. But still, he was HIRED to do the job. He was supposed to live and work there for a year. Given all sorts access, and blog about what a great place the airport was, and why don’t you stop by?
        I have no idea how that went for him because I didn’t bother to follow his blog. :)

  • Clay:

    It will be interesting to see where you will be led eventually. People who reject conventional religion are always evolving and thinking about the issues and it takes them further from the mainstream. Unless they become just as rigidly locked in atheism, which also becomes a belief to be defended. It can become a merry chase when you are free from the isms.

  • Priss:

    You turned me onto Frank Schaeffer’s books, which I now LOVE! So, maybe I’d like this guy. Dubious about atheists benefiting from some parts of religion though.

  • PJCarz:

    That guy! I got his “Proust” title in 1998 as a gift and finally read it after I retired a few years ago. I had forgotten about him. Thanks for the reminder. It’s ok to push something he wrote, despite not having read it because you can bet it will be written so well.

  • PJCarz:

    As a secular person, I can relate to his message. I love Christmas carols, Christmas trees, cathedrals, holiday celebrations, etc, without believing. I even put out a creche those years that we do a tree. These items are right next to solstice candles, lights, and so forth.

    Seems to me his talk was suggesting that we embrace the parts we find inspiration from, and skip the parts we do not. Belief in the Judeo /Christian God is not necessary.

    Works for me, anyhow.

    • km:

      But so many of the “religious” things were co-opted into Christianity. Granted they were often from other old religions and gods etc. Our Irish legends and tales were forcefit into Christianity.
      St Brigid and Brigit the goddess are such a mishmash that you can’t seperate them. Is the Brigids cross a Christian cross as the story goes, or is it Brigit’s circle of fire or crossroads meeting?
      Halloween and All Soul’s Day
      Celtic crosses and sun worship etc etc.
      Yule, Saturnalia and Christmas
      It has always been done. Put everything out. It’s all out there already anyway :)

      • PJCarz:

        Exactly. So let’s enjoy.