Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age

Today is the official release of my new book Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age!

Hunting Magic Eels is about finding God in a secular, scientific, and skeptical age. It's a book about reconstructing faith after a long season of doubt and deconstruction.

The guiding idea of the book is that faith is more about attention than belief. Faith is perception, a matter or seeing. Consequently, faith can be wooed, romanced, nurtured and sustained through practices of attention. 

Part 1 of the book--"Attention Blindness"--walks through some of the ideas from Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. Chapter 1 --"The Slow Death of God"--describes how the world, in the West at least, became disenchanted. This is a sad but very diagnostic chapter, helping us see exactly where our attention shifted over the last 500 years, giving us clues about where we made some wrong turns and how we might get ourselves back on track. Chapter 2--"Welcome to the Ache"--surveys the impact of disenchantment upon mental health, how we are struggling in the West without a transcendent ground of identity, purpose, and meaning. Touring the pain and struggles of modernity cultivates a restlessness and thirst for God. We become disenchanted with disenchantment, disillusioned with our doubts, and skeptical about our skepticism. 

Part 2 of the book--"Enchanted Faith"--is the heart of the book. In Part 2 I describe the psychological and perceptual posture we need to cultivate in order to re-enchant our faith. Chapter 3--"Eccentric Experiences"--uses William James' famous chapter on mysticism in The Varieties of Religious Experience to help us "widen the view" about what encountering God might look or feel like. Many assume God only speaks to us in an audible voice or through visions of angels. But few of us have such experiences. So we assume God "isn't there." But James helps us see that God is always there and speaking to us if we are willing to open our eyes and ears.

Chapter 4--"Living in a One-Story Universe" is about recovering sacramental wonder, seeing the world, as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, as "charged with the grandeur of God." Chapter 5--"The Good Catastrophe"--uses J.R.R. Tolkien's famous essay "On Fairy-Stories" to describe how our mental well-being requires "an outward turn," how hope, meaning, worthiness, gratitude, and joy flow out of a posture of gift and grace. 

Part 3 of the book--"Enchanted Christianities"--makes the point that enchantment isn't something we have to invent from scratch. Christianity is full of enchanted traditions. In Part 3 I survey four such traditions--the Liturgical, the Contemplative, the Charismatic, and the Celtic. Touring these traditions I talk about icons, prayer practices, contemplation, the liturgical calendar, spiritual warfare, miracles, beauty, emotion, worship, spiritual disciplines, fasting, nature, friendship, and much more. 

Lastly, in Part 4 of the book--"Discerning the Spirits"--I have two chapters on the topic of spiritual discernment. In these chapters we face what has been called "the myth of disenchantment," the observation that modern people still seem to be very enchanted in a lot of ways, from believing in ghosts to pagan spiritualities. That is to say, what might be happening in the West isn't a decrease in enchantment but a shift of enchantments. If so, then the call to enchantment must also face the prospect of misenchantment. As I describe in the book, how do we keep enchantment clear of the kooky, the self-indulgent and the dangerous? Part 4--the chapters "Enchantment Shifting" and "God's Enchantment"--is devoted to these questions, touring the various enchantments on offer in the world and describing how we can discern the voice of God in a very noisy and crowed spiritual marketplace. 

So that's the book! I hope this brief tour entices you to pick up a copy. The book would make a great read for those who are struggling with faith in this increasingly post-Christian age, or for those wanting to minister to such people. Many of the insights I share in the book come from my personal experiments in sharing Christianity with increasingly skeptical college students and young people. In that regard, you can read the book as a sort of manual on how to do evangelism in a post-Christian world. And for those who aren't struggling with faith, the book will give you tools and insights that can deepen your spiritual journey. 

Lastly, let me ask a favor today.

I've always refused to monetize this blog. You will never have to pay to subscribe, it'll always be free. You will never have to look at an advertisement. And you will never see a link to a Patron account. This blog is a gift. 

And yet, because of this, many of you over the years have asked how you could support me or say Thank You. Today is a day where you can do that. Take a moment today, or whenever you can, to share the Amazon link to Hunting Magic Eels (or the publisher or Indiebound link) on your social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And if you read the book and like it, take a moment to share a rating and sentence or two of review on Amazon or Goodreads. Suggest the book to pastors, friends, Bible classes, and book clubs. Any support and sharing of the book would be warmly appreciated. 

And with the world opening back up, please contact me ( to come talk to your people about how to hunt magic eels and our need to recover an enchanted faith in a skeptical age.

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