the process of disenchantment is irreversible

From “Disenchantment—Reenchantment” by Charles Taylor (within The Joy of Secularism: 11 Essays for How We Live Now edited by George Levine): These terms are often used together, the first designating one of the main features of the process we know as secularization, the second a supposed undoing of the first, which can be either desired […]

if the church no longer has “good” magic

How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K. A. Smith: One can see how this entails a kind of disenchantment: “we reject the sacramentals; all the elements of ‘magic’ in the old religion” (p. 79). If the church no longer has “good” magic, “then all magic must be black” (p. 80); all […]

closer in a way to the original day of the crucifixion

Working to capture the first step of Charles Taylor’s argument within A Secular Age, James K.A. Smith summarizes five pre-modern ways of understanding (or of inhabiting life) that served for centuries as powerful obstacles to unbelief: Understanding of the individual person as “porous” and subject to the influence of many powerful outside realities (i.e. as […]

the social bond itself was enchanted

How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K. A. Smith: Not only were things invested with significance in the premodem imaginary, but the social bond itself was enchanted, sacred. “Living in the enchanted, porous world of our ancestors was inherently living socially” (p. 42). The good of a common weal is a […]

to be human is to be essentially open to an outside

How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K. A. Smith: To sense the force of this shift, we need to appreciate how this differs from the “enchanted” premodern imaginary where all kinds of nonhuman things mean — are loaded and charged with meaning — independent of human perception or attribution. In this […]

what if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions

From Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith: What if education … is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires? What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally) grabs […]

choosing its truths over its defects

Charity in reading involves avoiding quick dismissal and cheap disdain, resisting the ego satisfaction of allowing a text only to confirm one’s prejudices, and seeking the good in a text, choosing its truths over its defects. From David Smith summarizing Alan Jacobs in Teaching and Christian Practices (a good book to come back to regularly).

a constellation of practices, rituals, and routines

Education is not primarily a heady project concerned with providing information; rather, education is most fundamentally a matter of formation, a task of shaping and creating a certain kind of people. What makes them a distinctive kind of people is what they love or desire – what they envision as ‘the good life’ of the […]