Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl R. Trueman. Crossway. 198 pages. 2022
In 2020, the author published The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, a 434-page book, to wide acclaim. Trueman was encouraged by Ryan T. Anderson (who wrote the Foreword to this book) to write this condensed version of the original book, making it more accessible to a wider audience, but still a bit of a challenge to read. My wife and I read and discussed this important new book – using the helpful study questions at the end of each chapter – which we found to be excellent.
Trueman tells us that for many people, the Western world in which we now live has a profoundly confusing, and often disturbing, quality to it. Things once regarded as obvious and unassailable virtues have in recent years been subject to vigorous criticism and even in some cases come to be seen by many as more akin to vices. He welcomes us to this strange new world and states that we may not like it, but it is where we live, and therefore it is important that we try to understand it. To respond to our times, we must first understand our times. That is Trueman’s goal in this book.
Trueman offers much to take in and ponder in this book. In this brief review, I’ll try to share some of the main takeaways my wife and I had from the book, which we recommend that you read and discuss with others.
Trueman addresses the modern self early in the book. He writes:
“The modern self assumes the authority of inner feelings and sees authenticity as defined by the ability to give social expression to the same. The modern self also assumes that society at large will recognize and affirm this behavior. Such a self is defined by what is called expressive individualism.”
He adds that the modern self is one where authenticity is achieved by acting outwardly in accordance with one’s inward feelings. Continue reading