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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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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 striving, 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 striving, we are chasing a sense of enoughness. But it remains ever out of reach, and the effort and anxiety are burning us out. Seculosity takes a thoughtful yet entertaining tour of American performancism and its cousins, highlighting both their ingenuity and mercilessness, all while challenging the conventional narrative of religious decline. Zahl unmasks the competing pieties around which so much of our lives revolve, and he does so in a way that's at points playful, personal, and incisive. Ultimately he brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder.


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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 striving, 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 striving, we are chasing a sense of enoughness. But it remains ever out of reach, and the effort and anxiety are burning us out. Seculosity takes a thoughtful yet entertaining tour of American performancism and its cousins, highlighting both their ingenuity and mercilessness, all while challenging the conventional narrative of religious decline. Zahl unmasks the competing pieties around which so much of our lives revolve, and he does so in a way that's at points playful, personal, and incisive. Ultimately he brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    The subtitle brilliantly captures the message of this book. With humor and wisdom, Zahl guides us through the rapidly expanding labyrinth of “religions” that wear the masks of everything from food to exercise. Kitchens become temples and gyms become churches. Rather than becoming less religious, we’ve become more religious, in all the wrong ways. A fantastic read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    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!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    I had high expectations for this one and it rose to the occasion. Zahl shines light on our ability to take any left-hand kingdom "thing" and turn it into a religion all our own. You can really hear Zahl's voice in this, with the same calm tone and a few good-natured puns that you'd hear in his live talks. It's a simple, easy read (I read it in 2 days), while still giving you a lot to discuss and think about. I want a sequel! I see Zahl was also a contributor to Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinn I had high expectations for this one and it rose to the occasion. Zahl shines light on our ability to take any left-hand kingdom "thing" and turn it into a religion all our own. You can really hear Zahl's voice in this, with the same calm tone and a few good-natured puns that you'd hear in his live talks. It's a simple, easy read (I read it in 2 days), while still giving you a lot to discuss and think about. I want a sequel! I see Zahl was also a contributor to Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    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, 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, or “that which we rely on not just for meaning or hope but enoughness” (p. xiv). This "seculosity" - defined as "religiosity that's directed horizontally rather than vertically" (p. xxi) - is at work all over. Whether we turn to work, romance, politics, or parenting to validate our existence, we have all set before ourselves some sort of scorecard for life, hoping that if we can just check enough boxes, we'll have done enough to satisfy that existential longing. Zahl shines a light on a few of the ways seculosity pervades our culture - in busyness, romance, parenting, technology, work, leisure, food, politics, and "Jesusland" (since the church is far from immune from these impulses!). In each chapter, he highlights with good humor but pointed accuracy the ways in which these aspects of our lives - all good in themselves - have morphed into cults offering false promises of peace, perfection, and belonging. Possibly the true success of this book lies in the fact that it reads like a fresh, innovative take on society and why we’re miserable, but truly breaks no new ground. Behind the references to Harambe and Seinfeld, Zahl’s writing shimmers with echoes of Christian thinkers from Augustine to C.S. Lewis. He strips away conventional religious terminology and provides new vocabulary and a framework to help us see ourselves and the spiritual condition of our culture with fresh eyes. He lays bare the ways our 21st century obsessions are merely the newest iteration of the age-old human condition, and then points us back to the cross as the only way out of the hamster wheel of works righteousness. Highly recommend to anyone feeling burned out by life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hiram

    I needed to read this book and so do you. A challenging read and a comforting read at the same time. Looking for “enoughness” outside of Christ is a useless/fruitless endeavor.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniel van Voorhis

    I can’t say enough about this book- Zahl’s work at MBird.com 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 I can’t say enough about this book- Zahl’s work at MBird.com 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 for those who seek.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    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. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    George P.

    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 repla 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 replacement religion is booming.” Those replacements don’t look or feel religious, however — at least not in the capital-R sense of the term, which Zahl describes as “robes and kneeling and the Man Upstairs.” They don’t necessarily look like “folkloric beliefs” or “occult belief systems” either: things like charms, telepathy, or astrology. Instead, replacement religions center around everyday concerns such as — to list the topics of the book’s chapters — busyness, romance, parenting, technology, work, leisure, food, and politics. Zahl calls each of these replacements “seculosity,” a portmanteau of “secular” and “religiosity.” Seculosity is a religious impulse “directed horizontally rather than vertically, at earthly rather than heavenly objects.” Why does Zahl considers these secular concerns religious? And why should we do so too? Those are fair questions, good ones even, because they go straight to the heart of what our culture thinks religion is. We typically think of religion in of capital-R Religion terms, that is, organized religion with its concerns for doctrine, ritual, community, and institutions. Those are the outward manifestations of an inward impulse, which Zahl calls “the justifying story of our life.” According to him, religion is “what we lean on to tell us we’re okay, that our lives matter.” It is “our preferred guilt-management system.” In other words, religion is what “we rely on not just for meaning or hope but enoughness.” This search for enoughness characterizes religious Nones just as much as it does the traditionally religious. It is a universal longing. Take the everyday concern about busyness, for example. Ask people how they’re doing, and they’ll probably reply, “Busy.” I certainly would. Between work, marriage, parenting, and life in general, it feels like every moment of every day is accounted for…and then some. I tell myself to rest, but the moment I start to do so, the nagging suspicion takes hold that a book needs to be read, an article needs to be written, a chore needs to be accomplished, my kids need to be helicoptered over, my wife needs to be date-nighted, the latest blockbuster movie needs to be watched, etc. (Notice, by the way, that even our leisure activities such as dating and movie-watching become have become to-do items.) These nagging suspicions arise from what Zahl calls “performancism.” He writes: “Performancism turns life into a competition to be won (#winning) or a problem to be solved, as opposed to, say, a series of moments to be experienced or an adventure to relish. Performancism invests daily tasks with existential significance and turns even menial activities into measures of enoughness.” And woe betide those who fail at these tasks, because “if you are not doing enough, or doing enough well, you are not enough.” Zahl doesn’t quote Blaise Pascal at this point, but there’s a lot of wisdom in the latter’s statement, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” (Now that I’ve quoted Pascal, however, I’m feeling guilty that I’m not checking off that to-do item either.) Performancism is “one of the hallmarks of all forms of seculosity,” their underlying assumption, affecting how we approach everyday life. It cripples seculosity’s practitioners with anxiety (Am I enough?), shame (Do they think I’m enough?), and guilt (Have I done enough?). “The common denominator [in all forms of seculosity] is the human heart, yours and mine,” Zahl explains, referring to what motivates our behavior. “Which is to say, the problem is sin.” In theological terms, you see, seculosity is just the latest example of a “religion of law.” It is a form of self-justification or works-righteousness. And like all such schemes, it is doomed to failure because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are not enough. We have not done enough. We cannot do enough. The antidote to seculosity is a “religion of grace,” Zahl concludes. “Sin is not something you can be talked out of (‘stop controlling everything!’) or coached through with the right wisdom. It is something from which you need to be saved.” And that salvation depends on the sacrificial love of the One doing the saving. He is enough, and only in Him can you be too. Book Reviewed David Zahl, Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What To Do About It (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2019). P.S. If you liked my review, please click "Helpful" on my Amazon review page. P.P.S. This review is forthcoming in the July-August 2019 print issue of Influence magazine.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    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 wor 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 work, espousing the proper politics, or even just expressing our importance though sheer busyness. It’s this exhausting constant striving to be better that makes Christianity such good news, because it’s a religion of grace, instead of yet another program to push us to just try harder. “Genuine transformation is the fruit of grace, not its precondition. Put in nonreligious terms, people only truly change when they no longer feel they have to in order to be loved. What makes Christianity a religion of grace, ultimately, is its essential revelation: of a God who meets us in both our individual and collective sin with a love that knows no bounds, the kind of love that lays down its life for its enemies.” I think Zahl is right, although I wish he’d go just a little deeper. As per usual, once I type out a review, I find one that is better and think, “that’s what I should have said.” Like this one: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... And here’s another great one: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justin Edgar

    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 leave 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 leave our search anxious, depressed, numb or despairing, and yet here is where our Savior saves us, amidst the riptide of being swept away into being enough. Jesus by his life and death and resurrection swims on by and saves us from having to be enough. Dave intersects this narrative with great personal stories, articles, short stories, movies, tv shows and other sticky things that will give you eyes to see all the ways being enough makes everything religious, everything an attempt to find the transcendent in the immanent frame. Read this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Walters

    Really well observed, excellent observations about the way that we behave in the 21st century, and some fascinating perspectives on faith.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ben Smitthimedhin

    Seculosity is an assessment of the cultural competition surrounding American culture primarily, especially as these forces have been exacerbated by social media. Zahl's book is not an exegesis of these rival liturgies, however. It's more of a general explanation for those who live their lives without realizing that hustle culture is fundamentally changing them into anxious pricks. I think it's fair for me to claim that Seculosity is essentially You Are What You Love with a Lutheran twist. Zahl s Seculosity is an assessment of the cultural competition surrounding American culture primarily, especially as these forces have been exacerbated by social media. Zahl's book is not an exegesis of these rival liturgies, however. It's more of a general explanation for those who live their lives without realizing that hustle culture is fundamentally changing them into anxious pricks. I think it's fair for me to claim that Seculosity is essentially You Are What You Love with a Lutheran twist. Zahl seems to suggest that accepting the Gospel will ultimately prove countercultural enough for the believer to set him free from proving his worth via cultural capitalism. This fits in neatly with Luther's view of law vs. grace (intentionally), here defined as fighting to feel "enough" vs. accepting that Jesus has already made you "enough" by His blood. So stop trying so hard. And though Zahl's prose is fun to read, his ideas are fairly late to the game. The book feels similar to others in the "liturgical revival in evangelicalism" category which picked up in the 2010s. My personal disagreement with Zahl is similar to my own disagreements with Luther; maybe the solution isn't submission but negation, not just acceptance but asceticism. Though then I'd be accused of pushing "law" onto people again.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Herr

    Great book on how the various places we look for our “enoughness” in American culture. Zahl writes that we are very religious in America, but not just about “Capital R Religion”- about things like success, relationships, food, etc. I appreciated his thoughts in the end about how the American church can better reach our neighbors (and fellow-church goers/ourselves) with a message of grace and not performance.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

    In Seculosity David Zahl argues that our secular world has not so much discarded the religious desire for righteousness as transmuted it. We create our own righteousnesses: from parenting to political allegiance to dating, to the grocery stores we shop at. Zahl’s thesis is important and eye-opening. Once you see the contemporary landscape the way Zahl does, you can’t unsee it. Zahl argues that we are made for righteousness, and when we disconnect ourselves from God, our thirst for righteousness, In Seculosity David Zahl argues that our secular world has not so much discarded the religious desire for righteousness as transmuted it. We create our own righteousnesses: from parenting to political allegiance to dating, to the grocery stores we shop at. Zahl’s thesis is important and eye-opening. Once you see the contemporary landscape the way Zahl does, you can’t unsee it. Zahl argues that we are made for righteousness, and when we disconnect ourselves from God, our thirst for righteousness, for “enoughness” doesn’t dampen, it just gets changes location. Our secular world multiplies its demand for our performance faster. Zahl explains, “Performancism is the assumption, usually unspoken, that there is no distinction between what we do and who we are. Your resumé isn’t part of your identity; it is your identity.” Piety isn’t merely the domain of religion, it is where we all live, the question is what piety will we run after? Zahl says, ““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.” Zahl believes that Christ offers the solution to our endless chasing after piety. It is Christ and Christ alone who is righteous and offers us his righteousness. It is all the more disheartening, then, when Christianity succumbs to seculosity. Zahl says, “One of the chief ways Christianity morphs into seculosity occurs under the heading transformation. As exciting a prospect as transformation may be, when it takes center stage in a person's spiritual life, it swallows up grace and turns Christianity into a vehicle of anxiety and exhaustion...Christianity itself starts to resemble a self-improvement scheme on spiritual steroids, only as reliable as the personal growth it may have produced, which we know - from both experience and Scripture - is not always that reliable.” We all thirst for righteousness. Even a secular age, running from its God-haunted dreams, can’t help but pursue righteousness of its own devising. We need our Creator and Savior to satisfy a hunger we cannot. I commend Zahl’s Seculosity to you. I think it will change the way you read the news, talk to your neighbor, and consider the desires of your own heart. For more reviews see www.thebeehive.live.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Doug Dale

    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 the 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 there. He goes into how each of these areas in the title (and more) all promise a salvation, a way to be 'enough', but then lays out a never ending list of things to do to get there. And yes, the Christian Church does this as well. I parts of this book will hit home with anyone who reads it. I would ask my non-Christian friends to read and consider it, but I'd almost more strongly ask my Christian friends to do so. We Christians may use the words that we are "saved by grace" but upon closer examination may find that we are trying to be "good enough" on our own strength both in and outside the Church.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Poteet

    "Seculosity takes a thoughtful yet entertaining tour of American "performancism" and its cousins, highlighting both their ingenuity and mercilessness, all while challenging the conventional narrative of religious decline. Zahl unmasks the competing pieties around which so much of our lives revolve, and he does so in a way that's at points playful, personal, and incisive. Ultimately he brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder." When I first began thi "Seculosity takes a thoughtful yet entertaining tour of American "performancism" and its cousins, highlighting both their ingenuity and mercilessness, all while challenging the conventional narrative of religious decline. Zahl unmasks the competing pieties around which so much of our lives revolve, and he does so in a way that's at points playful, personal, and incisive. Ultimately he brings us to a fresh appreciation for the grace of God in all its countercultural wonder." When I first began this book I thought I was wasting my time in that I was not really gaining anything new. However, as I got to the middle of the book there was thoughtful interaction with areas of life and culture that were insightful. In the end, I found this read delightful, insightful and helpful.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Bylin

    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." 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."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eric Chappell

    Best book of 2019.

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

    Incredible Book- Must read- Just do it. Period. From ME

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    It was hard to read criticisms of the small-r religions that I hold close (am guilty of? is this something to feel guilty of?), especially the chapters on food, politics, and politics in church. Not to spoil, but I'm still wrestling with Zahl's poignant final chapter. He explores this notion that our church should aspire to be a community built resembling the model of Alcoholics Anonymous, in which we enter our sacred spaces all acknowledging that we equally are sinners, and that is it. We share It was hard to read criticisms of the small-r religions that I hold close (am guilty of? is this something to feel guilty of?), especially the chapters on food, politics, and politics in church. Not to spoil, but I'm still wrestling with Zahl's poignant final chapter. He explores this notion that our church should aspire to be a community built resembling the model of Alcoholics Anonymous, in which we enter our sacred spaces all acknowledging that we equally are sinners, and that is it. We share that burden, and we have been freely given the grace that absolves us of this truth. Our existence is the only prerequisite to being "enough." What I'm still wrestling with, though, is that I agree with Zahl on this idea. Church should be grace-filled. And I also still believe that the church can call us to social justice. I believe too that the church did its best work around shared dinner tables, and that food is a human right, and our food system should be built in a way that does not exploit our land, our farmworkers, or our health. I, like Alice Waters (who Zahl references in his chapter on how we worship at the altar of food), believe that "every single choice we make about food matters." How do I reconcile the two? I think a partial answer is in this final chapter in which Zahl describes the "theology" of Alcoholics Anonymous. "God is who you need to save you—without whose intervention you will die—and the rest is just window-dressing. Oddly enough, this emphasis on personal salvation above all else creates a community of mutual service and sacrifice that puts most churches to shame, perhaps because it flows out of shared weakness—persistent shared weakness—rather than any shared strength. Humility is both the beginning and end." What I'm still wondering is, how can the church still call us to be an advocate for the marginalized, bring a terrestrial here-and-now justice built on true beloved community, while still living into the promise that through grace, we are all already enough? Perhaps a good start is the humility to say we don't deserve to be called "enough" and yet still we are. Maybe, counterintuitively, if humility and grace are our animating forces instead of holy action and good "works," the things we desperately want for the world will emerge organically. Swim with the riptide, not rage against it. Maybe Zahl would say I completely missed the point because I'm still set on my own idols (I'm not convinced that I would call them "idols" though), and am searching for a new means of getting there. I suppose that's the mark of a good book that I left feeling sufficiently challenged.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Randi

    I am actually rating this book 3.5 stars. The premise of this book is that as Americans have left organized religion, they have look to every day activities for identity, purpose and meaning. Examples include: parenting, romance, politics, technology, food, and more. This has led to anxiety, strained relationships, and performancism. Some of the analysis in the book was familiar and contained nothing groundbreaking, while other parts of the book gave me a totally new way of looking at things and I am actually rating this book 3.5 stars. The premise of this book is that as Americans have left organized religion, they have look to every day activities for identity, purpose and meaning. Examples include: parenting, romance, politics, technology, food, and more. This has led to anxiety, strained relationships, and performancism. Some of the analysis in the book was familiar and contained nothing groundbreaking, while other parts of the book gave me a totally new way of looking at things and several aha moments. If you enjoy reading analysis of our current culture, then you may enjoy this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Atwood

    A great concept. Simple but engaging writing. It’s a good book for a beginner’s understanding of things we replace religion with. In the end, it’s more observation than prescription- and the message tends toward a “Let Go and Let God” (though not quite that simple). Along with some good quotes, there are good ideas for exposing idolatry. The author also keeps a balance of exposing both conservative and liberal politics/theology. I took more than a page of notes- so it’s worth the read for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob Schoonover

    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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia Holmes

    Interesting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joshua D.

    Maybe the best book I read this year!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bautista

    This book is convicting, yet enjoyable with its funny and relatable commentary on today’s culture. Its message of finding true rest and grace in Jesus alone is both challenging and comforting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Philip Worrall

    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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Dupic

    Tremendous. Unbelievably readable for anyone out there. And as usual with the Zahls, leaves you feeling lighter and freer then when you first entered.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    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 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 the Gospel, the person of Jesus sets us free from this. It sets of free from what we do- career, do ministry 24.7, eating healthy/dieting, parenting the right way, and reminds us that it is about what He did. When we rest in that we do these things to glorify Him and delight in Him ultimately without making it an idol. But also we will never find this rest if we are making God a means to an end- of ultimate self actualization- rather than enjoying the presence & person of God for simply Himself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jordan J. Andlovec

    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 (probabl 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 (probably the best parts the book are when he admits he struggles with all these things as well, it's encouraging). In Luther-esque fashion he breaks down the righteousness (or "enoughness" as he calls it) we seek in all sorts of facets of life, and how they all fail to bring us peace, citing only a robust belief in a gracious God can bring us that. I will be buying plenty of copies of this to give out.

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