I’m normally a fairly quick reader. But it took me about two weeks before I went to Adelaide to read my way through Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor’s magnum opus – A Secular Age. It’s a whopping 880 odd pages, but it repays careful and considered reading. It’s a very important book indeed – with the potential to completely reframe how sociologists see secularity and secularisation, how we understand the long term contributions of Latin Christianity to our contemporary culture and ideas, and indeed how we think about politics in the West. I’ll have to set aside the pleasure of writing a review until after the election’s done and dusted, but I was forwarded an email today (thanks Michael!) pointing to a dedicated blog about the book and the issues it raises hosted by the Social Science Research Council.
I think that’s a great initiative, and Taylor himself has been blogging there. I’d suggest a look at the introductory post to get some idea of the context (and for links to reviews) and a read of Robert Bellah’s post. The comments threads can be a tad academic, but one of the beauties of Taylor’s work is how accessibly and clearly he writes – perhaps something of an irony for a scholar who cut his teeth on a groundbreaking reintrepretation of Hegel. The blog is well worth a look both as an example of good practice in the dissemination and discussion of academic work, and also for anyone concerned with the very crucial issues around the intersection of history, religion, culture and politics. That’s all of us, right?