Leo R. Boyd
Reality Religion: A Religion for Americans in the 21st Century

Does America (or any other country) need another new religion? Probably not. Leo Boyd thinks so though. In this brief book he tells us what he thinks of current religions (especially Catholicism) and he presents in mostly vague terms what his new religion will encompass.

Unfortunately, I found myself disagreeing with much of what the author presents. He doesn't offer anything particularly new or fresh and some of his ideas aren't much better than those of other religionists.

He observes that people are becoming unsatisfied with the religions they have inherited due to the mythologies incorporated therein that are taught as truths. He goes on to state that those people and their children have essentially thrown out the baby with the bathwater and have become a bunch of immorals, if not criminals. I doubt this is true, but even if it were I wouldn't buy the solution. Boyd is apparently not in favor of "freedom of expression, deregulation, free market, and separation of church and state." (p. 7) I'm not sure if this is really what he believes or if it is only his belief when applied to non-religious or orthodox Catholic individuals. In any event, what he seems to be offering is the same thing that most religions offer: a church which doesn't mind freedom so long as it is a "my church defined" freedom. And it is OK for church and state to not be separate as long as it is my church and not yours.

Boyd isn't completely off the mark on all issues. He correctly recognizes that though many intelligent people

know that our earlier belief systems are fundamentally unsound, they are nostalgic for the sense of community experienced in their earlier faiths. (p. 9)
Rather than build on the existing organizations that could provide such a community (UUism, Humanistic societies, non-religious community organizations, science clubs, etc.) he completely ignores them. An analysis of how his new religion is going to be the same as or different than UUism or Humanism would have been helpful.

The book takes off on a variety of tangents which are usually over-simplified. Some of them seem to tell opposite stories. For instance, he is opposed to dogma yet seeks to institutionalize his own into a church. Individuals are unique yet he wants them all to find a proper fit in his somewhat rigid church. Likewise, he is for a structured church yet freely (and correctly) admits that "meaningful religious growth is self directed." (p. 51) I was confused in the reading (and not just because of the numerous typos). I found myself alternating between nodding my head and shaking my head at every turn.

His view of human evolution is off at least a bit and contains elements of mysticism or some sort of guided or accelerated evolution unique to our species. On a similar note, the general tone is human- and American-centric. He finally admits this on page 79.

In short, although I'm sure Leo is a good man with the best of intentions, I'm not banking on his religion flourishing or even getting of the ground without some serious changes and polishing first.

Leo, who attends the same UU fellowship as my family attended prior to moving out of California, provided me with a copy of his book after finding out that my wife and I were teaching a class on Humanism to Unitarian Universalist youth.

from the publisher:
This modest sized book revives the root concept of religion (the relationships of the individual to self, others and the larger world) and shows that the knowledge possessed by well-informed Americans can be the bedrock of individual and public morality. The book looks at today's confused morality, posits a morality for Americans in the 21st century, and gives guide lines for institutionalizing it.