8/5/2021—Tuesday’s column in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star about
Tahmima Anam’s novel, The Startup Wife, shared the novel’s joke about people without
religious traditions needing an app to come up with rituals for important
events in their lives. You can’t detach rituals from the worldview—story about
the universe—that formed them. So the idea of an areligious use of religious
rituals is silly and ultimately dangerous.
That is fine insofar as it goes. But I was just reading a
story in the New York Review about Malcolm X’s ministry that reminds me that
ritual life and rules for living are part of any rich and satisfying human
flourishing—and where does come from in secular civilization?
In other words, an app for ritual is a joke. But what is the actual alternative?