Religion in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium: A Sociological Profile
Applegate, Celia, Journal of Church and State
Religion in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium: A Sociological Profile. By Andrew M. Greeley. New Brunswick, NJ.: Transaction Publishers, 2004. 252pp. np.
For earlier generations of historians, both inside and outside of academia, writing history was a matter of telling big stories, and one of the biggest stories they followed was that of secularization-that is, the story of a gradual decline in religious faith and practice in Europe since, at the latest, the eighteenth century. The secularization story accorded well with the concerns of historians: with the intellectual history of great philosophers and scientists freeing themselves from the domination of theology (Leibniz to Kant to Hegel to Schleiermacher to Nietzsche and so on); with the high politics of statesmen guided more by "reasons of state" (Staatsräson) than by moral compasses; with the rise of independently thinking middle classes, revolutionary working classes, and peasants freed from centuries of serfdom into the new world of cities, nationalist passions, and modern war. Religious history seemed like a side show to all this action, which in the 1960s especially found a fully-loaded paradigm to make sense of it, that of modernization. When non-church historians did try to integrate religious history into the story of modernization, it was to align it with the forces of reaction, the blatantly anti-modern papacy of Pius IX being the case in point for illustrating the travails of a religious establishment on the brink of self-destruction.
Andrew Greeley's useful, bracingly factual survey of religion and religious belief in Europe, more or less of today, certainly makes one wonder how the God whose death Nietzsche announced and whose absence seemed palpable in the killing fields of the twentieth century has made such a comeback. Greeley's book shows, through a rich array of statistical indices, that in Europe Christianity never went away and has, moreover, displayed the kind of adaptive powers that suggest its ability to continue to …
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Publication information: Article title: Religion in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium: A Sociological Profile. Contributors: Applegate, Celia - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 47. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2005. Page number: 880+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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