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Posts tagged "Seculosity"


Enchanting a Disenchanted World

In his book, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor narrated the long process of disenchantment in the Western world, where the rationality of the scientific worldview comes to dominate how people live from day to day. In the absence of official religion, Taylor contends that people have made themselves and their authenticity the new means of […]

The Seculosity Group Discussion Guide Is Here!

Three items of interest to report on the #Seculosity front:

1. In response to numerous requests, we’ve put together a Group Discussion Guide that takes you through the book, chapter by chapter. You can download it free on our Resources page or on the Fortress Press website. Spread the word! (Many thanks to Bryan J and Kendall G for their help).

2. The Almighty Amazon Algorithm, in its infinite wisdom, has just discounted the book by over 50%! Which means you can now get (hardcover) copies for $13.00. No idea how long this will last–or how it’s even possible–so get while the gettin’s good. Just be sure to drop a short review on that site when you can, as it makes a world of difference. And to forgo the Bezos-sphere, indiebound has you covered.

3. Philadelphia metro area take note: Next week I’ll speaking about the book at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wenonah, New Jersey! Weds August 28th at 6:30-8:30pm. The event is free, but if you plan on coming, please register here. Would love to see you.

Another Week Ends: Divine Accidents, Sunday Scaries, Workism, Artificial Obligations, Drama-Free Romance, and StoryMakers

1. So you’re trying to sleep, and it’s well after bedtime, but you’re tossing and turning and unable to get comfy, and you notice you’re replaying the same scenario in your head: some vision of tomorrow, of what might happen, how a hope could be dashed. If you’ve had this experience, you’re far from alone […]

Get Out While You Can: A Defense of Escapism

Escapism has a bad name nowadays. It’s usually equated with those who play video games for far too long, get lost in fiction books, or never come back from their Hawaii vacation. Escapists are the ignorant who bury their head in the sand in the hopes that they won’t be devoured. In Christian circles, they are the hermetic […]

Taking a Walk? Godspeed!

Solvitur ambulando, or “It is solved by walking,” in Latin — a Roman quip probably effused on one of the many roads that leads to (or from) the travertine city. Note the passive voice, which permits the speaker to omit any specific notion of what is actually solved by walking. But perhaps that’s the point […]

Another Week Ends: The Space Race (and Grace), Professional Christian Burnout, Screen Addictions and Abstinence, Truth and Martyrdom, the Holies of Hollywood, and the Modern Leper

1. Appropriately timed for tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of the moon landing, our first link this week is “First Men and Original Sins,” from the latest issue of Image (ht EKR). British sci-fi novelist Adam Roberts asks to what extent a religious impulse was involved in the space race as well as in the subsequent rise […]

Another Week Ends: Decision Fatigue, Millennial Astrologists, an Inmate from Greenwich, the Phantom of Winnipeg, and the American Dream Value Menu

1. Headlining this week is a story from Vanity Fair about Chip Skowron, a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, CT who was indicted for insider trading and found himself facing prison time. What comes next is a story of grace if I’ve ever seen one, and one that continues to bear fruit (ht CB).  Like […]

Seculosity and St. Paul

David Zahl didn’t put me up to this, I swear. But if the Apostle Paul were alive today, I dare say he would have written Seculosity. Let me explain. The secular world in which we live now wouldn’t have been imaginable to the Apostle Paul. In the first century, everything one did was connected to […]

If I Can Just Understand the Arrival Fallacy, I’ll Be Happy

The latest ‘gimme’ from the world of social science has, er, arrived. I’m referring to the Arrival Fallacy, “the illusion that once we make it, once we attain our goal or reach our destination, we will reach lasting happiness.” Earlier this week The NY Times devoted a whole column to this familiar dynamic, A.C. Shilton’s […]

Confession of a Dieting Supremacist (*in June)

A short, timely excerpt from Seculosity, which turned two months old over the weekend! Scroll down for info about the final dates in the book tour. This is taken from chapter 7:

When I was in middle school, my grandmother sat me down and told me that unlike my two brothers, I would have to watch what I ate as I got older. I don’t know what tipped her off, whether it was my husky build or awful snacking habits, but she wanted me to know that if I didn’t pay attention to what I ate, I could develop a problem, the one known as–[whispering]–fatness.

She was frank, but she was right. The truth is, I’ve always looked to food for comfort, especially during times of stress. Ben and Jerry’s, not Budweiser, is my preferred method of self-medication.

And so, every June of adulthood, I’ve undertaken a month-long “reduction” in which I cut out desserts and carbs and late-night nibbles. For men my age, the pounds fall off with relatively little effort and old pants soon begin to fit again. Affirmation starts to flow my way in the form of unsolicited comments (which my inner lawyer immediately flips into condemnation, i.e., “had I really gotten so heavy?”). I start to feel a bit better, both physiologically and emotionally. Your body thanks you, as they say. The social rewards can be pretty noticeable, too, even for a guy. No more pizza-neck!

Yet the downsides are not negligible. For thirty days it’s tunnel vision all the way, as I place my needs and plans above those of my wife, kids, and coworkers. I can’t seem to do it any other way. All to avoid the accusation of F-A-T, aka the worst F-word in the English language.

The self-centeredness pales in comparison to the self-righteousness. The moment I step on the scale and it registers less is the moment I reproach both my past self for being lazy and others for their failure to be as disciplined as I am. I become what journalist Joyce Wadler calls a “Dieting Supremacist” or we might call a Food Pharisee, forgetting the many factors that contributed to my weight loss, as well as the inconvenient fact that I gained it all back the last time. Instead I craft a narrative about self-determination and effort and performance. A testimony, if you will.

The swiftness of this change in attitude, and the size of the feelings involved, reveals just how much I lean on my relationship to food (and by extension, body image) for self-esteem and justification. Still, given the choice between being a self-aggrandizing performancist who can fit into his clothes and a self-loathing performancist who can’t, I choose the former. Neither is what we might call spiritually healthy, but the latter at least reinforces need rather than self-sufficiency.

Last leg of the Seculosity Tour kicks off later this month! Those dates, plus a couple Fall add-ons, are:

  • June 19, 2019: Jacksonville, FL (Church of our Savior @ 6pm) – This is a ticketed event, with dinner provided. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 20, 2019: Winter Park, FL (Winter Park Country Club, WP 9 @ 6:30pm)
  • June 21, 2019: Orange County, CA (WeWork 200 Spectrum Center Drive, Suite 200, Irvine CA @ 6:30-9pm) – This is a ticketed event. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 22, 2019: Los Angeles, CA (The Zank’s 1101 Hartzell St, Pacific Palisades CA 90272 @ 3:30-5:30pm) – totally free, but please rsvp to info@mbird.com
  • August 28, 2019: Wenowah, NJ (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church @ TBA)
  • October 13, 2019: Charlotte, NC (Christ Church Charlotte @ TBA)

p.s. If you haven’t posted a review on Amazon yet (even a single line!), gosh it would be appreciated. Thanks!

Another Week Ends: Breakfast of Lutherans, Celebrity Prayer Candles, Junkyard Playgrounds, All the Correct Opinions, and the X-Men Family

1. On this week’s Killing Eve, the morally obscure mastermind Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) refused to eat breakfast, instead pulling from a water pipe and saying, “I can’t stand breakfast. It’s just constant eggs. Why? Who decided?” The woman has a point. Whether yogurt, cereal, waffles, or bacon, our breakfast items of choice reveal greater […]

2019 NYC Conference Book Table

Many thanks to all who attended and helped pull off the 12th annual Mockingbird conference in NYC! For all who couldn’t make it, and also those who could, each year we like to put together a virtual book table, with the various recommended readings and resources written by our speakers and guests. (Last week we […]