Thursday, September 27, 2007

This is on the top of my pile of books to read

Re-Enchantment of the World


We live in a strange time.

We live in a strange time, in which religious belief seems to be flourishing, church attendance is high, evangelical preachers are household names and traditionalist congregations are more populous than ever. And yet one has only to turn on the television, go to a movie theater, look at a newsstand or read about, say, sex-education courses in the public schools to feel that our society is almost militantly at odds with revealed religion and biblical teaching.

Meanwhile, tracts on atheism ride the best-seller lists alongside books of soft spiritual uplift from mega-church pastors. What age are we living in, exactly?

A secular one, says Charles Taylor, the distinguished Canadian philosopher and political theorist (and winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize). But his answer is complicated and in no way meant to suggest that religious sentiment is fated to disappear anytime soon. Far from it. A Secular Age tries to explain the modern world to itself in all its contradictions. These include, within a secular culture, the persistence of profound religious conviction and fervent religious observance.

In previous works such as The Sources of the Self (1989) and The Ethics of Authenticity (1991) Mr. Taylor had described the genesis of a distinctively modern self-consciousness as well as offering a broadly "communitarian" reflection on the strengths and limits of liberal society. A Secular Age is the culmination of Mr. Taylor's intellectual project, a project aimed, ultimately, at defining what it means to be modern.

Read the rest here.

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