God is dead, claimed Nietzsche. But were spirituality and belief buried alongside him? Not for Jérémie McEwen who, in a new essay with a very personal tone, explores these questions from a philosophical point of view and beyond any dogma, addressing those who are sensitive to them without daring to put them on the table.

Since the Quiet Revolution and Refus global, Quebec has tended to sweep under the rug everything that has to do, directly or indirectly, with religion and spirituality. But for philosopher Jérémie McEwen, there is a way to lift it without suffocating in the dust of dogmatism or hardened atheism. Because, in his eyes, many are those who, often in all discretion for fear of the judgment of others, question their beliefs, a possible divine, the nature of a vital breath or any other elusive spiritual concept, mixing the whole on a secular melting pot, outside established institutional beacons (read: the great monotheistic religions).

“Critics of religion don’t fall, of course, there are even a lot of them in the book, but you can’t pretend they put an end to the question. I think it’s the step too far that we have taken, particularly in Quebec, thinking that we could close it, when it animates many people. Since the release of the essay, I have noticed that this resonates with those who want a non-dogmatic, philosophical and free religious reflection ”, underlines the essayist, who had signed Philosophy of hip-hop in 2019. But unlike to this opus, he had to operate a laying bare and be daring to launch headlong into the spiritual subject, forced to no longer “hide behind the philosophy of others” by assuming his positions.

In some forty brief chapters, I Don’t Know How to Believe tackles head-on the innumerable facets of the spiritual prism, from the unfathomable idea of ​​God to the question of suicide, from secular prayer to inevitable death, from the threads of fidelity to incursions into the province’s places of worship… McEwen recounts the reflections like the beads of a rosary, but especially not in the form of a manual of imposed views or a long, boring philosophical sermon. On the benches of his cogitations, he invites Kant, Saint Augustine and Bergson as well as Bérurier Noir, Hulk Hogan and Michael Jackson, wrapped in a mosaic narrative mode; sometimes pouring into the field report, sometimes into the classic essay, sometimes into poetry, sometimes into personal testimony based on edifying pivotal memories.

Anecdote among others, he evokes this stranger who, once in full service, left the church ranting “Crisse de caves!” to the faithful; and how disappointed the priest’s reaction was. Just as he meditates on our attraction to places of worship during our tourist stays.

One even wonders, just as when he verbalized his spiritual concerns for the first time with a friend during a trip to Barcelona, ​​if the writing of the work was not in itself an operation of pruning and intellectual enlightenment. Asked about this, the author confesses to having been torn between his beliefs and the sirens of atheism slumbering in him.

During his ruminations, we note a recurring nodal point: grace, capable of generating a feeling of attachment to something beyond us. “This word, which is at the heart of the work of Saint Augustine, expresses well what I call moments of eternity, where everything makes sense, where one has the impression of being touched by something ‘eternal ; like the birth of a first child or the contemplation of a starry sky on an unforgettable evening. I like the concept, because it’s a complete decentering of the self, where you disappear in front of the immensity of things, and it’s a bit like the definition of spirituality”, explains Jérémie McEwen.

Addressed to those who wonder about their beliefs outside established religions without managing to chisel them precisely – and god knows that the essayist has come across some –, I don’t know how to believe encourages you to take the subject head on. body, without dogma or taboo. “And why don’t we start a national dialogue around what is a belief without institutional attachment? “, proposes the philosopher.