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Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do about It
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Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do about It

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  65 reviews
At the heart of our current moment lies a universal yearning, writes David Zahl, not to be happy or respected so much as enough--what religions call "righteous." To fill the void left by religion, we look to all sorts of everyday activities--from eating and parenting to dating and voting--for the identity, purpose, and meaning once provided on Sunday morning.In our ...more
Hardcover, 211 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Fortress Press
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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  247 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, nonfiction
Compelling, humorous, and well written, Zahl gives a name and shape to the deeply religious nature of modern Americans — and how we’re prone to worshiping almost anything these days (work, the gym, parenting, healthy eating, etc.). Seculosity is a clear-headed reminder of how we energetically transform almost anything into a religion and yet still find ourselves empty and exhausted at the end of the day. Highly recommended!
Daniel van Voorhis
I can’t say enough about this book- Zahl’s work at has long been a favorite- in this book he has sharpened his thoughts, arranged the ideas, and put together THE book on modern secular religion. That he nails that, and provides a wonderful antidote in a Gospel that is good news for those of us at our wits end. I won’t tell you often to buy something- but get this on your shelf post haste- reflective, incisive, and with a wink that reminds us that there is one who has abolished religion ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on the ills of 21st century America that I’ve read - an eloquent, readable, convicting diagnosis of what’s getting us down these days.

David Zahl posits that, contrary to the evidence from church attendance polls, we Americans are just as religious as ever. Human nature fundamentally seeks a source of hope, purpose, and most of all enoughness,, and even as “big R” Religion has seemingly begun to fade, other contenders have stepped in to meet our need for “small r” religion,
Justin Edgar
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Dave wrestles with his heart, my heart, our hearts & the need to be enough. We all search for enoughness, and in our secular age, this means we search for it in what we do, thinking what we do makes up who we are. Our search for enoughness wrangles it’s way through our work, our romance, our parenting, our technology use, our busyness and over-committedness, our leisure pursuits, our food, our politics and even our faith. In every pursuit, we are hoping to be enough. We ...more
George P.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
American organized religion is declining. According to Gallup data, only one percent of U.S. adults claimed no religious affiliation in 1955. By 2017, that percentage had grown to 20. The younger the adult, the likelier the lack of religious affiliation. For adults ages 30–39, the percentage is 28. For those ages 21–29, it’s 33. If you’re looking for evidence of secularization in America, this rise of the Nones is Exhibit A.

And yet, David Zahl claims inhis new book that “the marketplace in
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Maybe it was hard truths I wasn't ready to hear or maybe I would have liked it better as an essay. Either way, I have been procrastinating finishing it because I found it repetitive and boring. Finally finished to tonight, and I don't know that I am any better for it.
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zahl contends that if we define “religion” as the “controlling story” that determines “how we dispose our energies, how we see fit to organize our own lives and, in many cases, the lives of others,” then we Americans are a very religious people indeed. It’s just that we try to find ultimate meaning and the feeling that we are “enough” through our performance in multiple everyday activities — such as being the perfect parent, finding the the ideal romantic soulmate, doing important fulfilling ...more
Michael Schuermann
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Zahl writes against what he labels “seculosities.” That is, various everyday activities that we develop a religious fervor around. It’s an interesting idea, and certainly true, to a point.

But I detect behind all of this a creeping antinomianism that would argue that trying to be good or right in these activities is actually wrong, and that we should instead be gracious and free in them. Again, true, to a point. We want to have “enough,” do well “enough,” and Zahl argues against this mindset. Can
Doug Dale
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
The best book I've read in quite a while. I'm buying copies for friends.

David Zahl captures something I've been trying to process, describe, and communicate for a while but does it with a clarity that I could never quite get to. The idea that we're all in 'church' all the time, whether or not you set foot in a church building. That is, we're in church if you define church as a place where you are given a description of an ideal and instructed on the many ways you must improve yourself to get
Rob Schoonover
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zahl’s suggestion that America is more religious than it has ever been may shock some, but after finishing this book and immediately looking on twitter I’m realizing just how right he is. If you’re looking for words to describe America’s obsession with performance and achievement, this book is a great place to start.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another reframing of Keller's "Functional Saviors" with a new list of illustrations and quotes to explain the continual pull of idols in all lives (including the non-religious).

A must for any teacher/preacher address the universal need of "enoughness."
Victoria Bylin
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I picked up this book because I wanted to round out my 2019 reading challenge with some nonfiction. Mission accomplished--and so much more. This is the best description of our modern culture I've ever read or heard. It's poignant, funny, deeply touching, personal, intellectually satisfying and highly entertaining.

Recommended for everyone struggling to be "enough."
Philip Worrall
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to start and stop this book, but pick it up. Zahl wrote a great piece of contemplative, engaging, and theologically accurate book on the modern world and how Jesus responds to this pervasive and ubiquitous narrative of secluosity. I’m sad to say that Zahl has spoken a timely word for me in midst of my preaching and teaching the Gospel to reconsider and come to grips again with the kind of good news I am preaching. Very appreciative.
Kyle Dupic
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tremendous. Unbelievably readable for anyone out there. And as usual with the Zahls, leaves you feeling lighter and freer then when you first entered.
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love how this book really shows our heart was made and crafted to worship. It truly takes a look at human nature where we chase something/a vision for the “good life” never actually feeling we’ve arrived. We all love to put an us versus them. Whether it’s Democrat’s versus Republicans, vegans versus food chain, those who exercise and run marathons versus those who watch Netflix marathons, and even in the church traditional hymns worshipers versus spontaneous emotional presence worshipers. When ...more
Eric Chappell
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reading
Best book of 2019.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a well-written and spot on commentary about our world today. And, yet, I am not devastated—surprising, I know! There is hope and encouragement for different and better and more.... I highly recommend!
Ethan Smith
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man, I didn’t want this book to end. Zahl says he could have touched on more subjects related to our seculosity, like sports and science, and I wish he had. Maybe we will be fortunate enough to have a sequel.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This wasn't a bad book, but nothing that's really new. The title is more interesting than simply calling it "Modern Idolatry." While I agree with much of the book, there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way (I could be reading too much in to things).

The fact is, human beings have been trying to fill themselves up with anything but God from the beginning. This book points that out but, I think the solutions offered at the end of the book were too simplistic and won't necessarily draw
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“It sounds like a Portlandia sketch, but is empirically true: the religious impulse is easier to rebrand than existing using,” David Zahl asserts in the introduction and then makes the case well in looking at how busyness, romance, parenting, and even food and leisure become the justifying story of our lives. The idea is this: we feel (know) that we are not enough and so we use these things that are necessary and even good in right proportion and seek “not just meaning or hope but enoughness” ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend to anyone. Religion/devotion isn’t on the decline, it’s just migrated to different objects like parenting, romance, sex, money, work, success, food, political and utopian projects (probably what’s behind the resurgence of Marxism) etc. We look to these things to make us feel like we’re enough; for meaning and identity. But we need what only Jesus can bring: salvation and redemption from the force of sin that oppresses people and societies. We need grace, the free gift of ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are tired of the usual fare of books about church decline which project data about dropping church attendance with doom and gloom only to offer solutions in the form of vague hopes and jargony schemes here's an antidote.

Seculosity is a fair, funny, honest, and insightful look at the way religion has not been erased but "rebranded" into the puritanical zeal we chase into our offices, our families, our relationships, our phones, our spare time, and even our dinner plates. It is written in
Patrick Funston
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really incredible book and one I wish I had written. It’s like a more specific, focused, and much easier-to-read distillation of parts of Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age.” The basic thesis is sound: the human need for righteousness, which the author simply defines with the idea of “enoughness,” is and always has been as strong as ever. As participation in capital-R Religion has flagged, the desire for righteousness hasn’t in proportion. Now instead of placing that central human anxiety in the ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
David Zahl's Seculosity is a concise and damning critique of modern culture, packed to the brim with psychological insight and gut-wrenching observations.

The crux of Seculosity is that our "confidence in religious narratives we've inherited has collapsed" and, as a result, we've rebranded our religious impulses in an effort to acquire "enoughness.". Zahl explores various secular religions - like career, busyness, technology, politics, food, parenting, and romance - and how each one speaks to a
Steve Penner
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Why do the Episcopalians have all the good writers? Maybe the implied answer is a little overblown, but just a little. It seems the most interesting books I have read in the past few years have been by Episcopalian priests/pastors or whatever they call themselves. I just learned that Robert Farrar Capon died six years ago. He has been one of the best and no Episcopalian since approaches his content, style and wit. Zahl is not in the same class, but is adequate for the times. His book's thesis is ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it. Got me to think about religion as it is being practiced by Americans today in a whole new way. When contemplating the decline of church attendance today I used to be fond of saying things like “they’re at yoga” or “brunch is the new church.” David Zahl looks at places Americans are putting their time, money, and emotional energy, such as work, parenting, romance, and politics and he focuses on the motivation behind it - the drive to be enough, to prove ourselves worthy. He ...more
Bonnie K.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh. My. Gosh. No, seriously!

I am one of those annoying people who like to share as I read. I find sentences or paragraphs that resonate with me and post them on social media as I go through a book. Long before I reached the end of the introduction I already knew (from the solid yellow highlights) that this was going to be one of those books where, following my regular pattern, I would be posting the entire book, give or take a stray word or two. David's down-to-earth way of putting into words
Jordan J. Andlovec
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been waiting for Dave Zahl to write this book, a singular work I could give to others to help explain both the anxiety of our current state of affairs and the hope that there is something better out there than performancism to give us meaning and purpose.

Seculosity is incredibly observant, fair-minded, and humble in it's attempt to describe why we're the most prosperous and yet the most unhappy we've ever been. He doesnt claim to a lock on this insight or pretend he's immune to it
Edward Gerk
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well written with lots of food for thought. Believe it or not, a good companion book would be "A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism". Why? Because of the vacuum that has been created, society looks to fill the religious void with, wait for it, religion. In the USSR the regime tried to abolish religion and filled it with state-religion...including Lenin and Stalin worship. In North America, we have done it to ourselves, throwing off the "burden" of religion...replacing it ...more

So, I'm the first reviewer to give Seculosity less than 4 stars. It's just a bit short of that for me.

The premise behind Seculosity is a good one: so many of the things that are identified as "secular" (work, family, technology, food, fitness, politics, romance, etc.) are actually treated by people in a "religious" fashion (hence the term "Seculosity").

Essentially, what Zahl is arguing for is that all of these things become a form of idolatry, a religion of "law." Christ, however, offers
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David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife currently reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their two sons where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.
“Listen carefully and you’ll hear that word enough everywhere, especially when it comes to the anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, and division that plague our moment to such tragic proportions. You’ll hear about people scrambling to be successful enough, happy enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, influential enough, desired enough, charitable enough, woke enough, good enough. We believe instinctively that, were we to reach some benchmark in our minds, then value, vindication, and love would be ours—that if we got enough, we would be enough.” 1 likes
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