On the shelves for only a handful of weeks, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is already receiving at least some of the attention it well deserves. The book has been reviewed in the pages of The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, and two short excerpts were recently published in Commonweal. Taylor’s massive tome—it’s just shy of 880 pages long—was even held aloft and glossed earlier this month by a young denizen of youtube.
Although it won’t be supporting video, The Immanent Frame—a new SSRC blog on secularism, religion, and the public sphere—will provide a venue for sustained dialogue and critical exchange on the work of Charles Taylor and other scholars of “the secular.” And we’re kicking things off with a series of posts on Taylor’s big book.
The series launches this week with a post by Berkeley sociologist Robert Bellah, who calls A Secular Age “one of the most important books to be written in my lifetime.” In the weeks ahead we’ll have additional posts on Taylor’s book—from Akeel Bilgrami, Wendy Brown, Hent de Vries, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Colin Jager, and a number of others.
But The Immanent Frame won’t be limited to discussions of A Secular Age. Later this fall we’ll also have a series of posts responding to Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West. And there will be posts on a variety of other topics—pluralism and the “post-secular”; religion and humanitarianism; international relations theory and political theology; reconciliation and transitional justice; religious freedom and the law; secularism and the future of shari`a.
The blog will draw on, and is closely linked to, the SSRC’s work on religion and the public sphere—and, indeed, Charles Taylor himself is a member of our working group on religion, secularism, and international affairs. We invite readers to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas for blog topics or questions about the SSRC’s work.