After reading more than 80 books in 2019, there’s a part of me that is getting a little squirmy knowing that it’s two weeks into January and I haven’t completed a single book yet this year. But there’s a good reason for that. (It’s not that I haven’t been reading…)
I’ve had Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age on my radar (and my Kindle) for a couple years now. Several of the popular-level books I’ve read in recent years have drawn on him heavily, leading me to believe I should really dig in and give him a shot myself. I’ve tried starting the book twice before, both times giving up about half-way through the introduction.
A Secular Age is not for the faint of heart. It’s nearly 900 pages long, with a vocabulary that makes me thankful for the Kindle’s built-in dictionary and Wikipedia lookups. I feel like I’ve worked hard reading it and I just passed the 50% mark. But it’s been worth the time and effort.
Taylor observes that between the years 1500 and 2000 we as a Western society have moved from a culture in which it was almost impossible to not believe in God and see a strong overlap between the physical and spiritual realms, to a culture in which it’s not abnormal to have an entirely secular perspective on the universe and dismiss the spiritual altogether. A Secular Age is his attempt at telling the story of how we got there, and it has provided some fascinating insights.
So, maybe I’ll only finish one book in January. But I’m OK with that. The goal is learning, not just consumption.