Religion is going out of business. Churches are shutting their doors. Cathedrals are just a destination for tourists. Entire countries are now secular.

As religion fades away, a void is opening in society. Religious leaders are there to help people celebrate momentous occasions and cope with the hardest moments. Religion provided community, a place for reflection and introspection. Religious leaders served as therapists. In religion there is a shared moral framework, commonality of language, and the space to be vulnerable.

Now that more and more people are leaving faith behind what are we to do? How do we handle marriage, life, and death?

People are gravitating towards new forms of community:

  • Crossfiters across the country share a language, and a ritualized practice. They focus on optimizing the body, and do it with an evangelical flare. I think we’ve all been at a party where someone can’t stop spreading the gospel of the burpee.
  • The School of Life is an organization that helps people think about the deeper meaning of their life, work, their relationships. They organize talks and offer counseling for those going through rough patches. Their mission is to help people develop emotional intelligence and understand how to better move through the world.
  • Vipassana is an ancient meditation tool that has had a resurgence in the last half century. These 10 day silent retreats help to provide you with a space for quiet reflection and contemplation. There are centers across the world that host new and old students, helping them to quiet their thoughts and strengthen their mind.

Every day more and more communities are starting, as people search to fill what is missing from their life.Some tackle the great questions of life. Others provide a space to get outside of your mind and focus on your physical self. New tribes are forming every week in the void of religion.

How we gather to celebrate life is a question that no longer has a clear answer. With the rise of smartphones we have never been more connected as a society, but the world can still be a cold, isolated place. The communities (digital or physical) in which we choose to spend our time can help us to grapple with life’s biggest questions, and to find our sense of purpose.

What communities do you belong to?

 

Thanks to Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile of  How We Gather for inspiration on this post.

Sean

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