Among writers, the late Christopher Hitchens kept getting better and better. Both in his thinking and his prose. He died without, as the saying goes, "his best writing being behind him." His blockbuster "God Is Not Great" was published in 2009. On Amazon.com today, it remains in the 2000 category. Last time I checked it was at 2,423.
Hitchens, no slouch when it came to mining trends, picked up on our disenchantment with traditional religion. In 1969, I chucked Roman Catholicism. However, deeply embedded in my memory bank was that feeling of being very special when I made my First Communion. The white dress, veil, stockings, gloves, prayer book, and candle couldn't be beat for being the platform for the most compelling performance art of my life. Since then, I think I have been chasing that kind of theatrical staging and props.
Buddhism offers some of the best. Most recently I wound up at the New Haven Zen Center and the Shambhala temple, also in New Haven. The philosophy lacks a traditional "god." Instead we are the Buddha. That threw me off my guard about religion. And I threw myself into traveling the path of loving kindness, as American Buddhist nun Pema Chordon calls it in her brisk-seller "The Wisdom of No Escape." Although the book was published in 2001, it remains in the 25,000 category on Amazon.com. At last check it was at 25,089.
After a year of seeking enlightenment I have concluded that the Buddha isn't great either. I encountered much of the same imposition of the party line and smugness that I experienced in traditional religions. Hopefully, my search for a replacement for the Catholicism of my youth is over. What I will miss about Buddhism is, again, the performance art. There are the ritual bowing, monk robes, candles, cushions, and terms from a language not English. I felt so special.
A tool I took away from Buddhism is mindfulness or meditating to focus on the now. I advise others engrossed in Buddhism about this option: Unbundle the practice of mindfulness from the rest of it. Daily I get in a lotus position on my sofa and put my attention on breathing in and breathing out.