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Conservative religious figures routinely warn against the dangers of secularization, just as proponents of the modern secular state decry the theocratic tendencies of religion. Both sides assume that the sacred and the secular are diametrically opposed. Gabriel Vahanian rightly calls such misbegotten assumptions into question. The problem lies elsewhere. In the light of the biblical dialectic of holiness and the secular, Praise of the Secular deftly "vindicates" the secular, weaving together philosophy, history, and theology in fine Derridean, yet reinforced, deconstructionist fashion. Vahanian argues that religion, far from being opposed to the secular, finds its fulfillment in the secular world. Armed with a compelling interpretation of Christ's incarnation, he claims that "we have not grasped John's notion of the word become flesh, even of God as wording, until or unless we realize it must so expand as to demand the worlding of that very word, extending it into secular relevance." In other words the holy, if not the sacred, demands its own secularization. In this poetically written and profoundly life-affirming work, Vahanian reinvigorates the secular against the claims of fundamentalism, which makes the relative absolute, and against the ideology of a kind of atheism ("secularism" is his term), which makes the absolute relative.
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