Bread and Roses

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Bread and Roses – Nontheism and the Human Sprit 
By Muriel Seltman
Matador – £7.99

For those in search of something other than that which has been both spiritually and inexorably rammed down our collective throats for literally thousands of years, this altogether brave, frank and more than considered book by Muriel Seltman, could just be the read for you.

Initially drawn to its title, Bread and Roses (which, as the authoress explains: ‘’is a tribute to the women strikers at a textile mill in Massachusetts in 1912 who had a banner which read: ‘Give us bread, but give us roses.’’’), I have to confess that upon closer inspection, the eighty-four year old self-confessed Marxist-Humanist-Nontheist-Quaker, valiantly sheds much needed light on the altogether tiresome and thorny issue of religion.

She doesn’t beat about the bush either; for in the book’s Prologue, she writes: ‘’[…] it must be stressed that religious institutions should always be distinguished from the essence of the belief systems which such institutions embody and from the individual people who seek their source of meaning and ultimate happiness in such religions. Religious institutions have consistently played a major role in the maintenance of social control.’’

The last line (‘’Religious institutions have consistently played a major role in the maintenance of social control’’) ultimately warrants the purchase of this book – but there’s more: ‘’They achieved this by ‘hijacking’ the spiritual dimension and exploiting the yearnings of oppressed humanity. Moreover, monstrous crimes have been committed in the name of religion by religious authorities.’’

This isn’t the inflamed warblings of a crazed or wronged individual, but rather, what sounds like a rather sprightly, and highly intelligent elderly lady. Who, by the time this book was published, may well have been a little older than her mere 84 years.

Some may consider Bread and Roses to be highly controversial. I’d say it makes for one of the most profoundly informative and refreshing books to have hit the market, in a very long time.

David Marx.

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