How (not) to be secular: reading Charles Taylor

Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (2014)
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Abstract

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. 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 philosophical guidebook, a kind of 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.

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James K. A. Smith
Calvin University

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