Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Journal Entry #1 (Smith, 1-46)
As a brilliant, well-written reading guide to Charles Taylor's magnum opus, A Secular Age, James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular ultimately provides us with a detailed synopsis of the development of mainstream society. It breaks down the dense nature of A Secular Age, introducing us to the key concepts within its pages. Through How (Not) To Be Secular, a larger portion of the human population is encouraged to read Taylor's groundbreaking account of secularization in the western world. In the opening pages of his worthy work of literature, Smith discusses the problems plaguing common culture, which are attributable to the secular age in which we currently find ourselves in. It is extremely difficult to determine a strong sense of individual identity because we have a multitude of options in order to express our faith (from traditional Christianity to modern Atheism). Due to the emergence of a wide variety of options, the process of fragilization has continued to influence the lives of every single individual. The level of commitment by a human being into one particular faith is called into question (if humanity doesn't come to a consensus on objective truth, the individual begins to doubt his/her beliefs, personal convictions and values). Furthermore, the process of secularization has not only made religious belief into one option among many others, it has also shifted our focus from a sense of the sacred to an earthly domain. As obstacles to unbelief were broken down over an extended period of time, disenchantment completely changed the landscape of the social order. By integrating aspects of Taylor's ideas into his own book, Smith is able to effectively explain how the evolution of a secular age took place (similarly to Taylor, Smith isn't quick to contest countless issues; he allows his theories and thoughts to be organized in a logical manner). In my personal opinion, these selections accurately and effectively expanded upon the idea of the secular age in which we live. As a devout member of the Catholic faith, I find Smith's analysis of Taylor's book to be fascinating because it allows me more closely identify with members of the faith community (who continue to develop the Christian doctrine even today) and it clearly explains his ideas. At this particular point in time, this book has greatly increased my interest level in Taylor's work. It doesn't coerce the reader into accepting a particular worldview, but urges him/her along in a journey of self-discovery. Similarly to the field of philosophy, this book wants to resolve numerous issues within our world.