Quote For The Day

“The fact is that Waking Up lends a different picture of Harris (at least to me): an intelligent and sensitive person who is willing to undergo the discomfort involved in proposing alternatives to the religions he’s spent years degrading. His new book, whether discussing the poverty of spiritual language, the neurophysiology of consciousness, psychedelic experience, or the quandaries of the self, at the very least acknowledges the potency and importance of the religious impulse—though Harris might name it differently—that fundamental and common instinct to seek not just an answer to life, but a way to live that answer,” – Trevor Quirk, TNR.

Quirk doesn’t care for the new atheists and, until reading this book, was repelled by Sam’s public persona. But I’ve known Sam for a while now and always knew he was different from the others in his camp. His book is a place where the atheist, the spiritual and the religious can meet and argue. Join me in this month’s Book Club discussion of Waking Up. Get it here. We’ll be debating it in October. One reader’s on board:

What a timely choice for the next book! I’ve had a somewhat searching summer and finally gave myself the permission to identify as an atheist. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve taken a stand on the issue of God’s existence, but for all my life I’ve had a mental block against the word atheist. Atheism, on its face, seemed to lack the rich language necessary to sort out a complex world. In its fight against irrationality, it had forgotten how to make us feel (with notable exceptions). This gap felt real to me, but allowing myself the possibility of atheism applying to me opened me up a bunch of writers and thinkers.

Naturally, at one point or the other, I found myself reading Sam Harris. I definitely don’t agree with everything he writes, but it’s undeniable that he writes well and demands from you your attention. Waking Up seems to fit exactly into this gap that I mentioned. I had pre-ordered it when Sam Harris announced the project. Very excited to read the book and see what fellow Dishheads thinks.

Send those thoughts to bookclub@andrewsullivan.com.