Reading Secular Wholeness online

Here are the chapters of the book, each in PDF and HTML form. This presentation has two purposes:

  • To let prospective readers sample the book in as much detail as they want, satisfying themselves that they do (or don't) want to own a printed copy.
  • To give present readers a way to link to the text from messages in email.

(Contrary to the thinking of major publishers, I believe putting full text online is safe and productive -- here's why, if you are interested.)

Chapter In which we... HTML PDF
Intro ...summarize the problem, lay out the plan, and thank our helpers.
1 ...explore and acknowledge the benefits of religious practice, detailing the values we want to reproduce in a secular way.
2 ...look for the freedom in being a "mere accident" (and the downsides of the alternative), find the joy of a dancing universe, and stand in awe of the "canon" of nature.
3 that better connections to other people help us live longer and better, and explore some of the ways of weaving them.
4 ...look at the documented benefits of a meditation practice, learn how to start one, and speculate about the uses of, and substitutes for, prayer.
5 ...define "ritual" and find it everywhere in life, sometimes being a help and support, and sometimes not.
6 ...learn that, although the mystic experience is undoubtedly real and powerful, little is known about its prevalence or about how to attain it. We struggle to decide if it is worth pursuing.
7 ...speculate that heroes are not taught but discovered in an idiosyncratic, unpredictable process, and what that means for us and our children.
8 some traditional ethical frameworks and show how to construct our own personal one.
9 ...acknowledge that death is omnipresent and inevitable, and look at the many positive steps we can only take when empowered by that awareness.
10 ...look at what social psychology knows about happiness and examine some strategies for being happier that are based in that research.
11 ...look beyond happiness to contentment and equanimity, and the classical strategies for reaching those states.
12 ...summarize what a "secular life practice" might consist of.
Notes sources, and introduce a lot of tangential points. In HTML, note numbers link to this file automatically. In PDF, you have to download it so that Acrobat can find it when you click on a note number.
Refs ...list all the sources from which we drew. For the latest internet sources, see the online version.