What If We Got Secularism Wrong?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can get a little obsessive about learning. I get a question in my head and have to get to the bottom of it. Around 2004 I became obsessed with the way in which consumerism was shaping our worldviews, out of that investigation the Trouble With Paris emerged. Then a few years later I became obsessed with the way in which stored media memories affected our contemporary view of identity, and out of that journey The Vertical Self was born.

Lately I have been obsessed with secularism. I realised it is one of those words which we drop all of the time, we think we know what it means. I thought I did. That was until I had a discussion with a Christian religious sociologist, I discovered that most of the secular theory that missional authors refer to, is now out of date. Classic secularisation theories have now been heavily questioned and turned on their heads.

One book above any other, that has caused this rethink is Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. I have been wading through it for months, and I can read a fairly heavy book in a couple of days. I can say that it is the most important book I think I have read in the last five, maybe ten years. It changes everything. It has been encouraging in that it confirms much of what I have been suspecting, but it is also deeply disturbing in that it shows the depth of change that has occurred in our culture and how the average person today processes faith and life in a way that virtually no leader has their head around.

For if we don’t really understand the culture we are in, how on earth can we serve it? If we misdiagnosed our illness, than our attempts at a cure will be misdirected. We cannot be missionaries if we think we are in Africa, when we are actually in the Caribbean.

I don’t have time to download all that I have been learning here, but we are going to put on a night here in Melbourne soon for leaders and their teams to get their heads around these key learnings. I will let you know as the details come together.


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