24. The Religion of Ordinary Life (Parts 6-7): Is Life Beautiful?


WARNING! This session contains ideas about death that may be uncomfortable for some students.

Remind students that we have been looking at the philosophy of Don Cupitt in comparison to some traditional ‘religious’ ideas, such as ‘God’, ‘soul’, ‘eternal life’, biblical commandments, etc. But how does Cupitt think people can really live a good life if there is no ‘God’, no ‘heaven’ and no ‘hell’? If we are born, live our lives and die, isn’t that just a philosophy of despair? Where is the ‘hope’; where is the ‘beauty?’


Show students the stop-motion music video for Chet Faker’s single ‘Talk is Cheap’ at: https://vimeo.com/86285022 

By way of contrast, show ‘Life is Beautiful’ by The Afters (a Christian group) at: www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FM1CBCNU 

Explain that, on The Afters’ website, the lead singer, Josh Havens, says, ‘The only true alchemy in this world occurs when trials turn to gold, the debris and heartbreak of life transformed and polished into shining beauty by a loving, unseen hand. We try to catch a glimpse of this remarkable change in action, yet human eyes fail us. However, once these storms of life pass, we see the afterglow through signs as sure as Noah’s ancient rainbow. A loved one overcomes. Morning breaks after an impossibly long night. Grace thunders through spiritual drought with a mighty downpour of living water. All of this, and more, affirms the fact that yes, life is beautiful.’

Ask the students to respond to such questions as:

  • What do these two short films say about life and death?
  • Is it better to believe in God than not? Why / why not?


Show students Parts 6 and 7 of Cupitt’s ‘The Religion of Ordinary Life’ on ‘The End of the Real World’ and ‘Death’ (see session 22 for the full text). Provide some reading and reflection time and ask students to comment on anything they find puzzling, interesting or contentious.

After some time exchanging views, get some feedback from the groups and encourage an exchange of views and ideas, especially on the idea of comparing belief in God as ‘an unseen hand’ with Cupitt’s ‘Religion of Ordinary Life’.

In particular bring out some of their thinking on such ideas as:

  • What is the best way to live life so that we are best prepared for death?


Play ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, e.g., with the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugrAo8wEPiI [Music starts about 40 seconds into the film.] and point out that the song includes the idea that life would be better without ‘religion’. Ask students to say what they think Lennon was referring to  when singing about ‘religion’. For example, did he mean religion as a whole, or particular forms of ‘religion’, or what?

1.  Happiness Part 1: status anxiety
2.  Happiness Part 2: religion and happiness
3.  Happiness Part 3: what is happiness?
4.  Morality Part 1: what is morality?
5.  Morality Part 2: should we live by ‘moral laws’?
6.  Morality Part 3: where does our sense of morality come from?
7.  Are You Religious?
8.  What Is a Religion and what is a Cult?
9.  What does it Mean to be Religious Today?
10. Religion in Numbers Part 1: how many people on Earth?
11. Religion in Numbers Part 2: how many people are ‘religious’?
12. Religion in Numbers Part 3: how did believers got to where they are?
13. Are All Religions Equal?
14. Transactional Analysis: learning how to feel equal
15. Bloom’s Taxonomy
16. Harry Potter and God
17. Without Fear or Favour Part 1
18. Without Fear or Favour Part 2
19. It’s Not Fair
20. Mind, Memory and Justice
21. Karma, Memory, Freedom and Justice
22. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 1: Religion Without God
23. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 2: God and Morality
24. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 3: Is Life Beautiful?
25. Can Atheists learn anything from Religion?
26. What do Buddhists Believe about God?
27. Is Seeing Believing?
28. Are We Being Hypnotised?
29. Sex and Relationships
30. Truth, Proof and Evidence
31. How should we deal with the range of different opinions in today’s world?
32. Is Religion a Force for Evil or Good?
33. Do Religious Experiences Prove God?
34. What Is Evil?
35. God and Evil
36. Can we verify Religious Experiences?
37. How Spiritual are You?
38. What is Philosphy?
39. The Power of Words
40. Art and Beauty

A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here

© Sea of Faith 2018

Sea of Faith is a Registered Charity no: 1113177