Author(s): James K. A. Smith
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.
"Review of Metaphysics" I highly recommend Smith's book, a short and clear introduction to Taylor's "A Secular Age." Having slogged through Taylor's book, I think that Smith's book communicates well, "contra" MacIntyre, Taylor's analysis and extraordinary skill. . . . Illuminating and insightful. Tim Keller--Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City"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."T. M. Luhrmann--Stanford University"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."Hans Boersma--Regent College"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."
James K. A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College, where he holds the Gary and Henrietta 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?, The Devil Reads Derrida, Desiring the Kingdom, and, most recently, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.