I was so excited on Friday to discover that Charles Taylor's long-anticipated 1999 Gifford Lectures are out, albeit in greatly revised form. Titled "A Secular Age," this massive book (776 pages + notes), the book aims to move beyond two classic ways of investigating secularization. These are: 1) the fact of the emergence of the state (and other spheres of life: economy, art, &tc) from the direct reference to God and the control of the church and 2) the decline of church-going and general faith commitments on the part of large swaths of peoples (while obviously noting the counter-cases like India or a number of Muslim nations). His book is an investigation of what I think is perhaps a prior and certainly a more fundamental question: a focus on the conditions of belief. He explores the transition from a society where belief in God is unchallenged and indeed unproblematic, to one in which it is understood to be one option among others, and frequently not the easiest to embrace.
I've just started; more later, and I'd love to have conversation about his ideas. I love books that change me, that leave me thinking differently about myself and the world, and this book is sure to be one.