Where to begin? Charles Taylor’s book A Secular Age is a “collection of interlocking essays, which shed light on each other, and offer a context of relevance for each other.”
In this post, I’m going to focus on Chapter 13, The Age of Authenticity. I’m choosing to focus on this chapter because this ethic of authenticity is the thing that seems to be the overarching idea that shapes our society today. So, let me start off by defining authenticity. According to the dictionary, authenticity is the quality of being genuine.  It seems to me that the idea of being authentic, and living with integrity is often used interchangeably. So let me define integrity. Integrity is “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished”
The way that Taylor defines authenticity is “each one of us has his/her own way of realizing our humanity, and that it is important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed from the outside.” (475) So, this is the idea that you have to figure out your own truth and live it out without compromise and without being afraid that you’re offending others. So, part of me is on board with this idea, but it doesn’t seem to be very Christian like.
This chapter made me think about the meaning of truth. I think of Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus, “what is truth?” I think of Jesus who said, “I am the way, and the truth…” I think of our culture today that is obsessed with this idea of authenticity and I wonder how we define truth? Biblically, truth is absolute and unchanging. Truth is a person. Truth doesn’t change depending on your context or your situation in life. Truth is universal.
Last week I watched Diane Sawyer interview Bruce Jenner. He is transitioning into a woman. This was his final interview as a man… long story, but that wasn’t necessarily what I had a problem with. The thing that bothered me was that at one point in the interview he said, “I’m just living my truth.” This line was picked up by the media and played over and over again… and quoted over and over again. What does that mean? What does it mean to live your own truth? How can you live authentically when you define what truth is? Doesn’t a universal truth give us a foundation?
I wonder if our self-centered authenticity alienates community and intimate friendships?