Friday, February 09, 2024

Douglas Coupland, Charles Taylor, and Spirituality in Modernity chapter in Bloomsbury Academic

bloomsbury book title

I’m delighted today to sign a contract with Bloomsbury Academic for a chapter on faith in contemporary culture, a dialogue between Douglas Coupland and Charles Taylor. Coupland is an author and artist, famous for writing Generation X. Charles Taylor is a sociologist, famous for big books on secularisation.

The chapter is a co-authored piece, with Tony Watkins. Together, we outline the work of Charles Taylor and in particular his biographies of conversion in modernity. We then bring these into conversation with converting moments in 3 of Coupland’s books – Polaroids from the Dead, Generation X and Generation A. We outline how the characters in Douglas Coupland’s fiction are experiencing transcendent moments, and what that means for contemporary faith.

The chapter began as a sermon at Graceway Baptist Church, way back in the day! I did some work on Douglas Coupland in my PhD, which became a class at Laidlaw College (Christchurch), in which I explored salvation in modernity. Then at Uniting College, I offered an honours course on Charles Taylor. I began to write about Charles Taylor’s conversion biographies in my 2019 book, First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God, when I looked at how art and creativity in alternative.worship communities connect with contemporary culture in public mission.

An online conference in 2021, focused on the work of Douglas Coupland, wonderfully hosted by Mary McCampbell, Diletta De Cristofaro and Andrew Tate, allowed me to bring together Coupland and Taylor. The chapter in this Bloomsbury book offers a spoken conference paper in a written form.

It’s wonderful to be exploring contemporary spirituality and conversion theologies in contemporary literature and to see various strands of thinking over many years come together in written form.

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