In this new-in-’21 book, research psychologist David DeSteno goes “cherry-picking the world’s religions to find useful practices for living better lives,” Kirkus Reviews adjudges. “[T]he author’s emphasis is…results-oriented,” Matthew Hutson adds, writing in The Wall Street Journal. Religion, he explains, is not just “a source of inherent meaning for the majority of the world who do worship,” it is, or should be, as well, “a rich resource for open-minded unbelievers.”
Religious practices and rituals—think baptism, confirmation, weddings, funerals—“can provide believers and non-believers,” ReformJudaism.org reckons, “with a toolbox for coping with the vicissitudes of human existence.” Don’t “ignore religion, but…make use of it,” Kirkus Reviews’ critic urges, pointing out that “modern society has much to learn” from what Hutson calls “spiritual technologies”; after all, they “work,” he notes, “without magical thinking.”
So it is that DeSteno “advocates ‘religioprospecting’, a practice through which”—Kirkus Reviews again—world religions can be mined “for whatever benefits can be found within them.”
A professor of psychology at Boston’s Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Group, DeSteno has served as editor-in-chief of the American Psychological Association’s journal, Emotion. His work examines the mechanisms of the mind that shape vice and virtue.
How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
By David DeSteno
Simon & Schuster, 2021