This unit will provide students with language to understand more critically both our Western secular world and themselves, in order that they are able to engage critically with the concepts of immanence and secularity. Apart from its intrinsic philosophical interest, the unit aims to give access to an important intellectual underpinning for pastoral care and for missiology in this secular age. Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (2007) is a seminal work that gives a philosophical/history-of-ideas account of the development and spread of exclusive humanism as a viable alternative to Christianity to whole societies. Parts 4 and 5 of this book provide a mental map of our secular world with its longings, projects and searches for significance within an “immanent frame.” This immanent frame is the focus of this course, along with critical consideration of the discourse on the work that emerged after its publication, for example, by thinkers such as Hunter (2011), Harrison (2010), and Milbank (varia).

Unit code: DP9162C (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Expound Parts 4 and 5 of A Secular Age in a careful, critical and comprehensive manner;


Situate A Secular Age in relation to its purpose and philosophical and historical context, with due regard to the history of secularisation narratives;


Critically explain and evaluate theories, terminology and arguments encountered in A Secular Age;


Appraise Taylor’s account of the current situation and relate it to examples from current Australian society;


Develop a topic of research in a critical, rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner, in accord with the appropriate disciplinary methodologies and conventions.


Pedagogy will depend on the mode. Semester weekly mode will be lectures, tutorials, and seminars. Intensive mode will be seminars and guided reading; learners will accordingly engage with lecture input, directed reading activities and seminars to achieve the learning outcomes.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Cayley, David with Charles Taylor. The Malaise of Modernity. Podcasts part 1–5.
  • Chau, Carolyn A. Solidarity with the World: Charles Taylor and Hans Urs von Balthasar on Faith, Modernity, and Catholic Mission. Theopolitical Visions 19. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2016.
  • Colorado, Carlos D., and Justin D. Klassen, eds. Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age: Essays on Religion and Theology in the Work of Charles Taylor. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2014
  • Hansen, Collin. Our Secular Age: Ten Years of Reading and Applying Charles Taylor. Deerfield: The Gospel Coalition, 2017.
  • Joustra, Robert, and Alissa Wilkinson. How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith and Politics at the End of the World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.
  • McEvoy, James. Leaving Christendom for Good: Church-World Dialogue in a Secular Age. Lanham: Lexington Books. 2016.
  • Smith, James K. A. How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2014. (Recommended for purchase)
  • Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. (Recommended for purchase)
  • Warner, Michael, Jonathan Van Antwerpen, and Craig Calhoun, eds. Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.
  • Zemmin, Florian, Colin Jager, and Guido Vanheeswijck, eds. Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor’s Master Narrative. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Option 2: 6000-word essay 90% End of Semester 1,000-word skeleton argument 10% Week 13


7000 100.0

Option 1: 4,000-word essay 50% End of semester 1,000-word skeleton argument 10% Week 13 2 x 1000-word tutorial papers/summative reflections critically expounding and evaluating a theory or argument from a chapter of Taylor. Each paper is to draw on a different chapter. 40% Weeks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12


7000 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 6 Aug, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-08 13:26:55 +1100