We live in an age when the Western world is dominated by secularist worldviews, secularist big stories. The dominant secularist big stories are those of materialism in both senses of that key word: that physical nature is all there is, and that enjoying material possessions is all that matters. However, for this blog post, the precise characteristics of secularist big stories do not matter; it is enough if two points can be accepted.
The first is that there is no neutrality; every aspect of human life and work is embedded in one or another (or some amalgam) of Big Stories. Fundamentally they are religious, or faith stories. They are often called worldview stories to emphasize that every person – even if they claim to be ‘non-religious’, ‘agnostic’, or ‘atheist’ – understands their life in the terms of such a Story. Crucially, commitment to these Big Stories will have consequences – for good or ill – for the individual, community and wider society.
The second point is that what is common to secularist big stories is the affirmation that we should live as if God does not exist and as if faith is irrelevant to everyday life. That simple understanding of secularism is all that is needed for now.
Clearly many (most?) people today are secularist in that basic sense. The question I want to discuss is ‘Why?’ What are the major influences that have enabled secularism to assume the default position in the lives of so many people? I want to argue that one major influence is the media and, in particular, that of the soaps and blockbuster films.
In the next post we will look at soaps.