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Met a guy last night, a guy with a novel idea.
I was working my restaurant gig, taking care of a great group of folks that had rented out a private dining space called The Wine Cellar at the Lincoln Park venue where I wait on tables and serve as private events captain. Anyway, at the end of the party, the evening’s host—her partner Dr. Bill came up to me, and as is often the case, he asked what it is that I really do for a living.
I smiled and shared my typically vague response, less than eager to jump toward things of religion and so forth. That I do some nonprofit work, some writing, various entrepreneurial experiments. My new friend Dr. Bill latched onto the writing part and pressed for more details with what appeared to be genuine interest. So I shared that I have a new book coming out that seeks to generate greater dialogue between those of faith and those without. The attention in his eyes focused as he perched himself up waiting, clearly looking for more. So standing behind the bar, I put the bottle of falanghina back on ice and spoke briefly of tearing down the religious walls that separate us and of building bridges that unite.
I think he was trying to discern whether I was of the “those of faith” camp or of the “those without.”
But then his eyes both widened and suddenly brightened as he told me he’d invented a new religion several years—maybe even a couple decades—back.
He called it The Religion of Nice. And he asked me to imagine a world where church and religion were all devoted toward simply helping one another, toward advancing humanity and making the world a better place. I help you. You help me. We’re all there for one another. Religion devoted toward being nice…
Wouldn’t that be great? He asked me. The Religion of Nice!
Yes, I certainly agreed. It absolutely sounded very nice indeed. Dr. Bill then explained that his religion included no gods. Faith in gods only gets in the way, he told me, and he didn’t believe any of it anyway. Humans are at their nicest when their gods are out of the picture. And since The Religion of Nice is all about being nice, well… Don’t you agree? he asked.
Yes, I certainly agreed once more. From there conversation briefly turned to my nonprofit work and what we do at The Clergy Project. Dr. Bill’s partner came over and asked how a bartender locked away in a Lincoln Park wine cellar would end up also leading an international group of former ministers. So I shared a little of my story. And then we returned to that nice little religion that Dr. Bill had started. We exchanged contact info, and then we finished that bottle of falanghina.
This morning’s exhaustive five-minute Google search was unsuccessful in finding any trace of The Religion of Nice, but I like the idea nonetheless. A religion void of all the god-stuff that simply focuses on doing good and helping one another out.
In fact, it sure sounds a whole lot like secular humanism, a group-effort that strives for the big-picture betterment of a thriving humanity—one driven by reason rather than god-stuff. And as we already know rather well, I’ve thrown my lot in with secular humanism for a while now. Hopefully we all have.
Secular Humanism: The Religion of Nice. I like the sound of that.
In other news: I’ve been a little off the grid lately, buried away with several projects. My new Pitchstone book The Rise and Fall of Faith was finally sent off to the printers on Monday, and I hear I should have a print copy in hand in about a month. Amazon will likely release your preorders shortly thereafter. I’ve also been consumed with preparations for a new business venture that I’m currently entering into. Nothing real glamorous about it, but I’m excited for the new opportunities it looks poised to bring. All this said, I might be finding a new season of stability in my schedule where I can blog a little more often once again. So if all goes well, you’ll be seeing a bit more of this ugly mug. I’m looking forward to it and hope you will too.