what’s left of christianity?

Well, i’m back to posting, people.

An interesting take on the current evolution of religion: Dolan Cummings asks on Culture WarsWhat’s left of Christianity?” In reviewing a few new books on the subject he claims that christianity is not so much going to disappear as we once thought, but is becoming or has already become (in Europe at least) politically irrelevant and thus exclusively personal. As far as i can tell, his assessment is right on.

It is not so much that religion is finished, then, as that it is subject to something analogous with natural selection. It is the survival of the fittest, with fitness defined as the ability to cater to a more personalised conception of spirituality that speaks to people as individuals with their own concerns and desires, and even offers relief from the external regulation and surveillance experienced in other spheres, from education to work.

Indeed, it is a measure of the detachment of religion from political power that religious groups are ‘allowed’ to hold all kinds of eccentric opinions. People can believe whatever they want on religious questions because it doesn’t really matter. When Christianity was at the centre of power and political life, doctrinal disputes had real urgency, political movements rose and fell and wars were fought over the correct interpretation of the one true faith. Today, only constitutional anoraks worry about the political consequences of the established church’s doctrines, and those who do object argue quite rightly for disestablishment rather than seeking to correct this or that point of belief. In any case, it has become something of a running joke that the Church of England doesn’t really believe in anything anyway. Anglicanism, bumbling affably along, seems to embody the fate of religion adapting to survive in relativistic times.


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