The School Of Life
The School of Life claims to be an apothecary for mind, but it might also be doing the kind of church we needed all along.
Monocle has just posted a feature on The School of Life, in London. The store, which bills itself as an “apothacary for the mind” is, in some ways, like a church of philosophy and lifestyle (in the good sense of the word). I say “some ways” because it appears a lot better thought out, presented and structured than most church “shopfronts” I’ve ever seen. It’s also – and I’m sure you can see this one coming – intellectually substantial.
There are some rather compelling looking courses on Love, Politics, Work, Family, Play, “sermons” (one off lectures), guided holidays and outings, bibliotherapy consultations (personalised reading programmes), shared meals (with the stated aim of improving conversational confidence), psycotherapy programmes and of course, a shop.
Part of my fascination comes from what the director, Sophie Howarth describes as the task of editing. They are not just putting everything they can get on the shelves or in their programmes, they are not just opening another bookstore or public lecture series, they are selecting products, courses and speakers in a way that directly addresses the problems that plague the self-help (and by extension the church) world and packaging them in a informed, stylish and thoroughly adult package.
Flicking through The School of Life’s blogs showed some of the selections they are putting on their shelves, like David Spero’s photo-book on non-conventional evangelical buildings, entitled Churches. It’s a smart, savvy choice and one that feels more attractive than the average religious bookstore.