“Strange New World” by Carl Trueman

I believe many of our readers are familiar with Carl Trueman’s 2020 publication called The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. It’s a detailed and in-depth look at the reasons why our Western culture is so very politicized, sexually charged, and individualistic. I really enjoyed The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self in many ways. After reading it in 2020 I wished there was a shorter and more readable edition for people who might find it too daunting and difficult to read.

Well, now there is! Earlier this year (2022) a shorter and more concise edition of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self was published. It’s called Strange New World. In the preface of Strange New World Trueman said it “covers the same ground in a briefer and… more accessible format” than Rise and Triumph. And yes, I agree, it covers the same topics as his longer book but in a way that’s shorter and easier to follow.

I’ll give a few excerpts for examples.

“…The list goes on, but the picture is clear: a complex set of factors, from philosophy to technology to pop culture, shape the way we intuitively think about sex. Indeed, they shape the way we think about the world in general and our place within it” (p. 28).

“The modern self is not simply one that sees inner feelings as authoritative; the modern self also largely rejects the idea that human nature has intrinsic moral structure or significance” (p. 51).

“While Marx will allow religion a certain analgesic function for those suffering in this life, both he and Nietzsche see it as something that is at best a crutch, at worst a manipulative confidence trick designed to prevent people from being truly themselves” (p. 69).

“Sex is no longer a matter of behavior, of what we do; it is a matter of who we are. This helps us understand why language such as ‘straight,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘bisexual’ now make sense, even if one is a virgin and has never engaged in sexual activity. It is not the act but the desire, or the orientation of that desire, that defines the person. This changes everything” (p. 88).

I’ll come back to this excellent book at some other point. For now, as with the longer version of it, I very highly recommend Strange New World by Carl Truman.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015