How to understand the world

How to understand the world December 21, 2023

Image: Crossway

In the afterward, Andrew Wilson notes that writing Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West is the most fun he’s ever had writing a book. I can’t say that it’s the most fun I’ve ever had reading a book, but at the very least it was a lot of fun.

The specific task of Remaking the World is to explain how we got where we are today through the filter of the year 1776. In a sense, this is an expanded version of Carl Trueman’s project in Making the Modern Self. Where Trueman focused in on identity and psychological self-perception, Wilson gives us a broader view encompassing much more of the modern world, including how we are “WEIRDER.” That is, Western/Educated/Industrialized/Rich/Democratic/Ex-Christian/Romantic. You’ll have to read the book to get the whole thrust of each of these–and let’s be clear: you should read the whole book. This is an excellent read and one that is very helpful for navigating our times.

What this book won’t do is give you ammunition for the culture wars. That’s not the goal here. Instead the point of to help us understand how something like a “culture war” is possible in the first place, and that perhaps the sides in it aren’t quite what you and I think. Maybe instead of a fundamental cultural divide separating two irreconcilable worldviews we are just as often different teams playing with the same set of assumptions and rules–often assumptions and rules about which we have never stopped to reflect.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t two fundamentally opposed worldviews–Christians of course stand opposed to the world. But we also live in it, and as such those of us who live in the United States or Britain (or anywhere in the West) are as much WEIRDER as anyone else, and we need to know that before jumping headfirst into the conversations going on in the culture. Remaking the World is a great place to start learning about the world we live in.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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