What secular means.

Author:Boczek, Macon
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

Reading Richard John Neuhaus' comments on Christian Smith's "secularization theory" (Public Square, March 2005), I wonder about equating secularization with the "exclusion of religion from our public life" or "agitation for a naked public square."

"Secular" is a positive term, a theological construct actually. It is the human world of being with its own final cause in time, the common good. The word "secular" also alludes to the moral call to homofaber to share in the divine providential ordering of creation. When this happens it is God's own glory that is manifested, His created purposes for the world having been reached. "Secular,' with its traditional theological legitimacy reaching back to Gelasius' theory of the "two swords" of legitimate power and even to Christ's call for justice to Caesar and to God, is a word we need. It helps us to distinguish between the very real sacred and secular horizons of social existence.

"Secularization" is also a positive term. It refers to an historical exigency that, as Peter Berger explained in The Sacred Canopy, began with the de-divinization of nature, which left the concrete word in which we actually live...

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