GFCF Book: The Great Escape from Nihilism


Available on Amazon, UBC Bookstore, Chapters, Ingram Sparks, Regent Bookstore

Book Description This book is about a journey: out of the confines of nihilism into the heart of meaning. It presses the question: Does nihilism have the last word? The book addresses a contemporary crisis of faith, a crisis of identity, and a sense of lostness in late modernity. Our companions on the journey are a fine, seasoned group of writers, poets, social reformers, scientists, scholars and public intellectuals. Among the notables are Alvin Plantinga, Miralslov Volf, Jürgen Habermas, David Bentley Hart, Michel Foucault, Calvin Schrag, Jim Wallis, Tom McLeish and Jens Zimmermann. Special mention goes to eminent philosopher of modernity Charles Taylor for his deep, insightful cultural lens. He brings a major contribution to the discernment of our circumstances and our critical choices. 

The Great Escape from Nihilism is about a courageous and somewhat dangerous journey, but ultimately it is a path towards hopeful alternatives to the forces that weigh down our spirits, and the tensions that divide us. We must decide whether the quest to escape outweighs the risks. After mapping the contours of nihilism and the immanent frame in Part 1, the story proceeds with diagnosis and then prognosis. The ten substantial conversations that follow in Part 2 are modeled on real, ongoing discussions and lively debates over several years on university campuses across Canada, the United States and Europe. It is also a kind of philosophical history of the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum. Despite how practical they are, there is more to life than science, technology, business and algorithms. Our journey involves the quest for the Holy Grail of human flourishing, the deeper life, the thick self.

Please join with me in congratulating Gord Carkner on the occasion of the publication of his book “The Great Escape from Nihilism: rediscovering our passion in late modernity”. The book tracks our UBC Graduate and Faculty Christian Forum narrative and the rich contributions of the international scholarship that we have enjoyed over the past 28 years. The book describes the commitment to dialogue and critical enquiry that characterizes the GFCF’s ministry. Through the complex cultural “lens” of our premier Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor and the writings of some of the most influential philosophers, scientists, historians, sociologists, cultural specialists and theologians of our time, Dr. Carkner provides wise and persuasive suggestions of ways forward in navigating the landscape of late modernity. The transcendent turn to agape love is the most challenging concept he exposits. This project is a rare and provocative contribution of high integrity.”

 ~Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus Geography, UBC

~Dr. Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus, UBC Geography

As a graduate student from the Middle East, this book has helped me to understand Western culture better. I highly recommend it.

Mary Kostandy, PhD student in Education at UBC, from Cairo, Egypt

Keywords  Nihilism, Secular Age, Search for Meaning, Scientism, Radical Individualism, Ideology of the Aesthetic, Recovery of the Good, Agape Love, Incarnational Humanism, Communal Responsibility, the Common Good, Late Modernity