If the thickness of a book tells the reader anything, then one only has to look at Charles Taylor’s 900-page work, A Secular Age, to know they are in for a journey of serious academic reading. Taylor aims to sketch out a historical timeline of the secular while also framing our current reality in secularism. Taylor, a Roman Catholic, and world-renown philosopher is the emeritus professor of philosophy at McGill University, has written numerous books, and is also the winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize, awarded for advancement and research of spiritual matters.
Taylor’s thesis in this mammoth work centers around his understanding that while we live in a new/ distinct time in history, the longing for transcendences is not dead. In reviewing Taylor’s work, John Patrick Diggins writes, “Taylor’s quarrel is with secularism – the idea that as modernity, science, and democracy has advanced, concern with God and spirituality has retreated to the margins of life…Taylor seeks to prove that God is still very much present in the world if only we look at the right places and allow the mind to open itself to moral inquiry and aesthetic sensibility rather than traditional theology as the gateway to religion.” In a much shorter work, James K. A. Smith helps the larger society read and understand Taylor in his book, How (Not) To Be Secular.
Smith is a Canadian-American philosopher who is currently a Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College. Smith, who in his own right is a respected philosopher and multiple titled author, summarizes Taylor’s understanding of the secular age by stating, “Secularism does not equate to unbelief. It equates to the contestability of belief,”  simply put we no longer live in a world with a default belief system. Taylor argues that most secularists “believe” or want people to think that modernity has “subtracted” out God because we have been enlightened instead of the replacement of God with self. Taylor writes, “The subtraction story gives too little place to the cultural changes wrought by Western modernity, how it has developed new understandings of the self, its place in society, in space and in time. It fails to see how innovative we have been; its tendency is to see modernity as the liberating of a continuing core of belief and desire from an overlay of metaphysical/religious illusion which distorted and inhibited it.” God is here (in society and the world), but we all live with God and each other differently now. Smith again is helpful in his work, as he sums up Taylor’s idea’s he writes, “the question isn’t whether we inhabit the immanent frame (secular age), but how.” This is the question I want to close with as it relates to leadership.
Yes, we all live in a secular age, a time in which individualism is high, but the data continues to show that the next generations are seeking for more. In an era of unprecedented diversity, globalization, and complexity amid the postmodern worldview, Millennials and Gen Z (together known as the emerging generation) desire leaders who can help them locate themselves in the world while maximizing their influence. They are looking for leaders who are relational and can show them how to live or be in this rapidly changing world. Leaders who not only provide space to search out their spiritual questions but leaders who can help relieve their anxieties about the future while teaching them how to capitalize on the present. Above all, the emerging generation is looking for leaders who know how to be present in a distracted world. Ravi Zacharias says we need leaders who can know how to live in today in light of eternity. This type of leadership is what I am studying and proposing as (Re)Vision leadership. Leadership that sees/understands our need for the transcendent incorporates the personal and includes the “other” (community).
 Smith, James K. A., 2014. How (Not) to Be Secular : Reading Charles Taylor. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans. http://search.ebscohost.com.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1058474&scope=site.
 “How Not To Be Secular”, James K A Smith, Wheaton College, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QPY6VLuEPQ&t=3700s
 Taylor, C. (2007). A Secular Age. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
 Smith, James K. A. How (Not) to Be Secular : Reading Charles Taylor. Eerdmans, 93.
 Barna Research, The Connected Generation: How Christian Leaders Around the World Can Strengthen Faith and Well-Being Among 18-35-Year-Olds (Ventura, CA: Barna Group, 2019), 124.
 Ravi Zacharias, “What Does A Person Look Like Who Learns To Live One Day At A Time With A Backdrop Of Eternity,” in Catalyst Conference 2019 (Atlanta, Georgia: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries., 2019).