Secular Steeples, by Conrad Ostwalt
More than half a century ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of a coming "postreligious" era. In his 1965 landmark bestseller, The Secular City, theologian Harvey Cox embraced secularization as a healthy and necessary corrective to the excesses of religious zeal. But by the 1990s most scholars of religion were rapidly reaching a different conclusion: that our age is better described as "postsecular."
One need only watch an episode of The Simpsons to get an idea of what they are talking about. Homer and Marge's lovable though frequently loutish family mixes a wild amalgam of irreverence and piety. In one characteristic episode described by Mark Pinsky, "Homer mistakes a waffle stuck to his ceiling for God, and then compounds the error by eating the waffle and mocking Communion by describing the taste as 'sacrelicious'" (The Gospel According to the Simpsons).
This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $4.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.