By Berit Kjos
“Religion for Everyone!” The message in this strange article (featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal) fits right into the UN vision of global solidarity. The author, Alain de Botton, presents a radical plan for social unity that meets the demands of the global agenda. By blending useful practices from the world’s religious traditions, it would mold minds, transform communities and establish new rules and rituals for all. There would be no room for Biblical Christianity.
For two weeks back in 1996, I watched the formation of that agenda. Attending the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Turkey as an officially registered, amateur reporter (I felt more like a spy), I spent one day exploring two massive warehouses near Istanbul’s piers. Each displayed models of planned communities. There were no churches to be seen, but each model “community” featured a large central gathering place for fellowship and collective enlightenment.
Ponder these quotes from the above article, “Religion for Everyone,” then compare them to the UN agenda:
“One of the losses that modern society feels most keenly is the loss of a sense of community. We tend to imagine that there once existed a degree of neighborliness that has been replaced by ruthless anonymity….
“In attempting to understand what has eroded our sense of community, historians have assigned an important role to the privatization of religious belief that occurred in Europe and the U.S. in the 19th century. They have suggested that we began to disregard our neighbors at around the same time that we ceased to honor our gods as a community.
“….can secular society ever recover that spirit without returning to the theological principles that were entwined with it? I, for one, believe that it is possible to reclaim our sense of community… without having to build upon a religious foundation….
“It should inspire visitors to suspend their customary frightened egoism in favor of a joyful immersion in a collective spirit—an unlikely scenario in the majority of modern so-called ‘community centers’….
“To foster a sense of communal intimacy and to ensure that profound and dignified personal bonds can be forged, a tightly choreographed agenda of activities may be more effective than simply leaving a group to mingle aimlessly on its own….
“In a world beset by fundamentalists of both the believing and the secular variety, it must be possible to balance a rejection of religious faith with a selective reverence for religious rituals and concepts….
“…religious communities…use specific types of food and drink to represent abstract concepts, telling Christians, for example, that bread stands for the sacred body of Christ…and teaching Zen Buddhists that their cups of slowly brewing tea are tokens of the transitory nature of happiness in a floating world….
“Taking their seats at an Agape Restaurant, guests would find in front of them guidebooks…. No one would be left alone to find their way to an interesting conversation with another…. The Book of Agape would direct diners to speak to one another for prescribed lengths of time on predefined topics…”
A deeper look at the 1996 UN Conference on Human Settlements. Click here to continue reading and for footnote material.