About the Author
James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, where he also holds the Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. He is the award-winning author of a number of books, including Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, Thinking in Tongues, Desiring the Kingdom, and Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. He also serves as the editor of Comment magazine.
Smith pursues two goals in writing this homage to philosopher Charles Taylor. First, Smith provides a concise summary and commentary of Taylor’s daunting book, A Secular Age. Second, Smith wishes to make Taylor’s insights for our secular present more accessible, help Christians apply those insights, and encourage skeptics to seriously consider the weight of them.
Table of Contents
Introduction—Our Cross-Pressured Present: Inhabiting a Secular Age
1. Reforming Belief: The Secular as Modern Accomplishment
2. The Religious Path to Exclusive Humanism: From Deism to Atheism
3. The Malaise of Immanence: The “Feel” of a Secular Age
4. Contesting the Secularization2 Thesis
5. How (Not) to Live in a Secular Age
Our Cross-Pressured Present: Inhabiting a Secular Age
Smith compares Taylor’s A Secular Age to a relief map of our secular present. Unlike a road atlas that too neatly and flatly outlines the terrain in intellectual and partisan terms, a relief map takes account of the “wilderness” between the roads and the feel of the country/culture we are in. A relief map observes how terrain bleeds over into other regions. As such, our secular age haunts unbelief with yearnings of transcendence, and makes belief hard to maintain in the face of the all-consuming now (what Taylor describes as “the immanent frame”). Smith: “most of us live in this cross-pressured space, where both our agnosticism and our devotion are mutually haunted and haunting.”
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