"Since this self is material, composed of elements, the product of mother and father, at death, it is annihilated and perishes, and does not exist after death."
That's more or less the 51st of the 62 wrong views
. The materialist ideas about self that are a basic tenet of the secular view were not unknown at the Buddha's time. What is different now is that, as the author points out, this is, more or less, the predominant view.
I'm not particularly convinced that the secular view is any more problematic than any other view that Dharma has been addressed to, except that this is the one we are immersed in and so personally
have a difficult time seeing as a (wrong) view
. Its a closed system in the sense that its logic can only repeat itself (the proverbial nail to the hammer).
My mind initially turns to Mulamadhyamikakarika. I suppose that Nagarjuna does not address the particulars of the secular view, but his analytical method is easily addressed to any tenet system to reveal its conditionality and its emptiness without needing to "update the Dharma."
This is to say, I'm not so sure there is all that much to alter or adapt.
What the author is concerned about is our tendency, as Westerners raised in a secular view, to fall back into the secular view. I don't think this is peculiar to those steeped in the secular view. I think Brahmins who converted to Buddhism struggled with similar issues - the tendency of Vedanta type ideas to pop up in Buddhism provides examples of this struggle.
When I was a teenager I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X and it made a huge impact on me. Here was a Happa writing, "BLACK POWER" across the grip tape of his skateboard. Later, I read some other books on black identity from the sixties - some I recall - The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver. It was Cleaver who identified the struggle of blacks seeking authentic identity at that time in a way that struck me. After realizing that so much of his identity was defined by white culture, white value systems, etc. Cleaver decided to reject it, and basically went punk rock, rejecting everything and trying to destroy everything he associated with that. He observed, though, that after rejecting all this "white" stuff, he had nothing. Without some other ideas to take its place, he slipped back into his old way of thinking. To an extent, the Autobiography of Malcolm X, because he actually had a change of mind, breaking with Elijah Mohamed and the Nation of Islam while he was working with Alex Haley, you see this process of rejecting a set of ideas happen on the page. Haley described how Malcolm wanted to actually go back and revise the parts recounting his experience of becoming a Black Muslim and his views on Elijah Mohamed, but Haley convinced him to leave it. It made for a powerful narrative - we see the transformation chapter by chapter, until he was killed. Like Cleaver, Malcolm was grasping for meaning at the end of his life. He had left a tenet system, but was struggling to find a new one that matched his insights about everything that he gained on the Hajj. Baldwin tells a similar story.
What I'm trying to point out is, as Narwhal touched on above, things are not as simple as the author portrays them. The West is full of diversity, and if I really wanted to push it, I might question - is the author really just talking about a certain Western experience that is upper middle class white? The kind of upper middle class white educated in liberal arts colleges? I don't think Jack Kerouac, for instance, who was raised devout Catholic, struggled with the problems the author describes when he entered the Buddhist path (as dubious as that path was).
Also, she's coming from a Tibetan Buddhist back ground... I'm not so sure that say, someone who has entered a Zen tradition is going to necessarily have the same disconnect with Secularism. Zen is in many respects doctrinally and aesthetically stripped down. The Single Practice Japanese traditions likewise are stripped down.
I don't want to ramble on more, but I think what underlies the East Asian traditions is actually a particular Mahayana logic - the logic of the Ekayana that was specifically addressed to the apparent irreconcilable diversity in the Buddhist communities of the 1 c. BCE to 1 c. CE. Simply stated - the Ekayana takes suchness (not emptiness nor conditioned) as the base and considers everything else some distortion of suchness. This Ekayana logic is, I would argue, more readily adaptable to addressing whatever "distortion" is afflicting at the time. It doesn't take any teaching other than suchness as definitive - everything else is a dependent cure. Rebirth is a cure for the assumption of finitude. Nirvana is a cure for the eternity of rebirth. Ekayana took in East Asia, I think, because the Indian trappings that Buddhism carried were hard to swallow for the Chinese who already had thousands of years of intellectual history when Buddhism arrived - a world view deeply at odds with the Buddhist view, as complete and universal as any Secular View for a modern Westerner. Dharma had to be stripped down to its essentials because that Indian stuff was just too far out to accept, and Ekayana theory provided the framework to do that.
I think Ekayana will be extremely helpful to address the ills of the wrong views prevalent in the modern West.