"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, January 26, 2007

The end of Western Christendom

This book (sorry I can't get a bigger picture) made a bit of a splash 5 years ago, and then it sank beneath our wisdom like a stone. Not surprisingly, because it would seem to complete the effort Kierkegaard began 150 years earlier. He proclaim the end of 'Christendom.' Jenkins proclaims the end of "Western Christianity." And he's very likely right; and the current controversy in the Anglican Communion is very likely proof of his thesis.

I pulled this off my shelf tonight, quite by accident. I'm going to be reading it over the next several days and, as I have a chance, I'll post on it. For now, the Atlantic article and the OUP summary will have to do. But it's worthwhile to realize Christianity was, for its first two millenia, a Western dominated concern (we don't even give much shift to the Russian and Greek Orthodoxies, much less to the Copts), and that is clearly shifting. One reason we don't see it is our cultural myopia, as Jenkins points out. The other is, the "Southern Christianity" he identifies is much more mystical, conservative, spiritual, and morally rigorous (i.e., "traditional") than the brand favored by Western Christians (such as you and me). We don't see it coming because we don't want to see it coming.

But I think Jenkins is right. Coming it is. God is about to do a new thing, and it may not be centered on us this time.

Kyrie Eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.


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