A smart, intelligent guide to navigating today's culture
How (Not) to Be Secular is what Jamie Smith calls "your hitchhiker's guide to the present" - it is both a reading guide to Charles Taylor's monumental work A Secular Age and philosophical guidance on how we might learn to live in our times.
Charles Taylor's landmark book A Secular Age (2007) provides a monumental, incisive analysis of what it means to live in the post-Christian present - a pluralist world of competing beliefs and growing unbelief. Jamie Smith's book is a compact field guide to Taylor's insightful study of the secular, making that very significant but daunting work accessible to a wide array of readers.
Even more, though, Smith's How (Not) to Be Secular is a practical how-to manual on how to live in our secular age. It ultimately offers us an adventure in self-understanding and maps out a way to get our bearings in today's secular culture, no matter who "we" are - whether believers or skeptics, devout or doubting, self-assured or puzzled and confused. This is a book for any thinking person to chew on.
Charles Taylor's crucial book on our secular age is inaccessible for most people, including the church leaders who desperately need to learn from its insight. Jamie Smith's book is the solution to this problem. As a gateway into Taylor's thought, this volume (if read widely) could have a major impact on the level of theological leadership that our contemporary church is getting. It could also have a great effect on the quality of our communication and preaching. I highly recommend this book.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City
This is a brilliant, beautifully written book on the dilemma of faith in a modern secular age. It introduces the reader to the material in Taylor's dense book, of course, but it does more. It invites the reader on a journey through the experience of the spirit in different centuries, and how our conceptions of mind and person shape belief in ways far more intimate than we usually imagine. How (Not) to Be Secular is a gem.
-T. M. Luhrmann,
Charles Taylor's daunting tome, A Secular Age, has just turned a great deal less intimidating. Combining his usual lucid style, his love for literature, and his passion for the church's future, Jamie Smith offers a faithful guide through the pages of Taylor's monumental work. Along the way, he wisely cautions his co-religionists against facile responses to the 'disenchantment' of modernity, but he also insists that the Christian faith may have much more going for it than many recognize.
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