A lot of times in our culture there’s this de facto humanist swagger that says, “Oh yeah, religion. We used to do that shit.” But my advice would be, to anyone who wanted it: reconfigure your understanding of “religion,” and make it exactly that which will give you that airport state of mind more often. And then go into the existing traditions and cull through them to make it that. Or to try to find the authentic elements of those traditions that are really about that. ‘Cause that’s really what they’re about.
— George Saunders. Listen to the whole thing to find out what he means by “that airport state of mind,” but basically he means that heightened state of awareness and love for the people closest to you that you feel when you’re saying goodbye to them at the airport.
It’s an old, old story by now, isn’t it? — the idea that you can carefully remove everything you don’t like about “religion” — like picking the anchovies off your pizza, and who ordered anchovies, who does that, some idiot — and keep all the stuff that makes you feel good. No obligations, no beliefs you’re not sure you can sign on to, just “mindfulness” and a full, full heart. As Jake says in The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”