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The Return of the Religious Counterculture Family?

An excerpt from Mary Eberstadt's How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization, publishing in April with a review at PJ Lifestyle coming shortly thereafter.

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March 17, 2013 - 9:00 am

Official Description:

In this magisterial work, leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt delivers a powerful new theory about the decline of religion in the Western world. The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshalling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows that the reverse has also been true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.

Drawing on sociology, history, demography, theology, literature, and many other sources, Eberstadt shows that family decline and religious decline have gone hand in hand in the Western world in a way that has not been understood before—that they are, as she puts it in a striking new image summarizing the book’s thesis, “the double helix of society, each dependent on the strength of the other for successful reproduction.”

In stunning and sobering final chapters, Eberstadt then lays out the enormous ramifications of the mutual demise of family and faith in the West. While it is fashionable in some circles to applaud the decline both of religion and the nuclear family, there are, as Eberstadt reveals, enormous social, economic, civic, and other costs attendant on both declines. Her conclusion considers this tantalizing question: whether the economic and demographic crisis now roiling Europe and spreading to America will have the inadvertent result of reviving the family as the most viable alternative to the failed welfare state—fallout that could also lay the groundwork for a religious revival as well.

How the West Really Lost God is both a startlingly original account of how secularization happens and a sweeping brief about why everyone should care. A book written for agnostics as well as believers, atheists as well as “none of the above,” it will permanently change the way every reader understands the two institutions that have hitherto undergirded Western civilization as we know it—family and faith—and the real nature of the relationship between those two pillars of history.

A relevant excerpt from the introduction:

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A book recommendation often with excerpt(s), usually attempting to fit the daily theme. Family and Relationships on Monday, Practical and Technology on Tuesday, Laughter on Wednesday, Culture on Thursday, Intellect on Friday, Health and Fitness on Saturday, and Religion and Ethics on Sunday. Image courtesy shutterstock / robert_s

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Probably not. The decline in the family is primarily economic. Men simply can't find jobs and earn enough to be equal to women. In enough numbers to make the family the norm anyways. What we're seeing, and what really worries me, is that birth rates are declining and population shrinking overall to reflect this. If technological disruption removes even more jobs, we won't see a resurgence of the family, but a graying and then dying-off of the population to match the lower amount of people needed in a new economy.

This won't be top down. You could almost believe in a Gaea consciousness-people are unconsciously doing this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshalling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows that the reverse has also been true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.

Color me skeptical. E.g., who's to say that the decline of the French family in Bourbon France wasn't precipitated by the so-called Age of Reason and Rousseau's willingness to remove mankind from the "tyranny" of religion?

The proposition here is whether consequences have ideas. Cause and effect are notoriously difficult to prove.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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