Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What is the future of religion Down Under?

The only thing certain about the future of religion Down Under is that neither Tony "Captain's Call" Abbott nor John "I'm relaxed about that" Key are likely to be made into gods and venerated anytime soon.

But what about the future of religion in Britain and will the prognostications about it have a bearing on our understanding of the future of religion Down Under?

With H/T to Simon Sarmiento (@simonsarmiento) I draw your attention to this Theos Think Tank post on the question "What is the future for religion in Britain?"

The post notes that a seminal book by Grace Davie, Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging is about to be republished/updated with a new title Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox.

It then promises what looks to be a highly interesting series of 1000 word responses to the book, beginning next Monday, published dayly for about a fortnight after that.

I'll be keeping an eye on this. It might give a steer as to the future of religion Down Here. After all, Believing without Belonging is well known as a phenomenon in NZ. In Oz too?


Bryden Black said...

This imminent series of comments shld be very interesting Peter. Not least as one of those chosen is David Goodhew, whose Church Growth in Britain, 1980 to the Present, published by Ashgate in June 2012, is a fascinating and important read.

MichaelA said...

One of the peculiar factors in England is that between one third and one half (depending on which survey you use) of the population still self-identify as "Anglican" or "Church of England", yet only about 2% of the population attend a CofE church even once per month.

Here in Australia there is no way that so many people would identify as Anglican.

Anonymous said...

Peter, although the responses on Theos will be interesting to read, Britain is obviously a different society from New Zealand. Britain is to some extent still re-inventing itself; rejecting old class values (and the Church that was identified with them) and trying to find meaning in what remains. There are then the migrant cultures with perhaps a stronger sense of who they are at least in terms of faith. New Zealand is also fortunate to have migrants (ask your local Catholic parish), but is not saddled with the same historical baggage as Britain.

To some extent, your question on the future of religion Down Under links in with your other recent posts on repentance and luxury. Although there is an apparent tidal wave of secularism, there is, I think, an adequate answer and not a particularly original one: we must do what the gospel says. The Pope, for example, appears to have long embraced Yves Congar's ideas of true and false reform in the Church. True reform is rooted in pastoral concern for ordinary faithful people and is shaped by the periphery, not the centre. It values what the ordinary faithful value rather than avant-garde elites. True reform makes the Church more true to itself and guards against attempts to align the Church with contemporary secular movements.

Congar went in and out of fashion, but has been an influence on John XXIII and Francis. The fruits of true reform are zeal, fidelity and unity : in short the Church starts looking like Christ.
This, I think, is the place to start. The Pope has encouraged Catholics to follow his practice and read the beatitudes and Matthew 25 everyday. Even once a week has an effect. It certainly beats waiting for the tidal wave.


Andrew Reid said...

Yes, MichaelA's analysis is right and also I would say those who previously would identify as nominal Catholics or Anglicans are increasingly identifying as "atheist" or "agnostic".

Another point to make about Oz is the comparatively new denominations (pentecostal, independent, Baptist) have a very strong sense of belonging. Not many nominal pentecostals or Baptists about!