THR Web Features   /   November 2, 2015

Re-enchantment: The Fall Issue Appears

Detail, “Views on paper #1,” by Hinke Schreuders (2014). Image courtesy of artist.

Re-enchantment: What is it? Who wants it? Good questions, and ones that we explore from various angles in our fall issue.

Up until the last two decades or so, believers in the rising tide of secularization, including most Western scholars and intellectuals, regarded “disenchantment” as the inevitable corollary of progress and enlightenment. But facts on the ground, including certain epochal events, defied received ideas and theory. Not only did religions and religious passions reassert themselves around the world (in both inspiring and terrifying ways), but growing doubts about the overly reductive claims of scientific reason opened the door to new understandings of cause and value, and of their possible connections. If the world had been truly disenchanted in the first place, was it now undergoing a kind of re-enchantment? Or were at least some secularists beginning to have second thoughts about the once and final disenchantment of the world?

If the Sea of Faith’s “melancholy, long withdrawing roar” was only a tidal fluctuation, the reverse flow is not bringing back “that old-time religion” so much as exposing the complex interconnections among things we once considered separate and distinct from one another, or even at odds. Some even insist that the world only passed from one form of enchantment to another. Debates about the sacred take subtle and interesting form in our time. The fall issue will touch on some of these questions.

As always, we’ve put some essays and book reviews up in full for you to sample:


For subscribers, we have Charles Mathewes on Peter Sloterdijk, Anna Marazuela Kim on iconoclasm, Matthew Scherer on modernity’s origin stories, and Eugene McCarraher on why we’ve never been disenchanted. In addition, we have essays from John Inazu and Wilfred McClay, along with reviews of new books by David Brooks, Joshua Cohen, Andrew Hartman, and Carlos Fraenkel. If you aren’t a subscriber, it’s an easy problem to fix: click here and subscribe today.