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Emmanuel Todd: death of Protestantism explains Western decline

Emmanuel Todd at home in Paris. Credit: Getty

January 10, 2024 - 1:00pm

Western decline can be attributed to the “vaporisation” of Protestantism, according to the leading French historian and public intellectual Emmanuel Todd. Speaking to French centre-right magazine Le Point last week, Todd highlighted the “values of work and social discipline” inherent to the Christian branch, which he appraised as central to the rise of the “Anglo-American world”. 

Todd, whose 1976 book The Final Fall predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and who last year notably claimed that a third world war has already begun, was promoting his new book, titled La Défaite de l’Occident (The Defeat of the West), which is published in France today. He told Le Point that “the vaporisation of Protestantism in the United States, in England and throughout the Protestant world has caused the disappearance of what constituted the strength and specificity of the West.” 

The historian added that we have passed the “active stage” and the “zombie stage”, and are now approaching “stage zero”, whereby religious belief loses all influence within the Western world. He cited the passage of laws relating to same-sex marriage as the “ultimate indicator” of the transition from the “zombie” to “zero” stage. 

Within this theory, the “zombie stage” incorporates much of the US rise to prominence during the first half of the 20th century — what Todd calls “Great America, from [Theodore] Roosevelt to Eisenhower”. This was “an America that retained all the positive values ​​of Protestantism, its educational effectiveness, its relationship to work, its capacity for integrating the individual into the community”. Ultimately, the historian suggested, “the Protestant matrix has disappeared at the height of American power”, not least because of the Catholic faith of incumbent President Joe Biden.

In Todd’s view, this religious and cultural decline is paired with Anglo-American economic defeat. “Globalisation has made not the West in general but specifically the United States unable to produce the weapons necessary for Ukraine,” he told the magazine. “The Americans sent the Ukrainians into disaster during the summer offensive with insufficient equipment.”

Todd has previously been described as an “anti-American” thinker, particularly following the publication of his 2001 book After the Empire, which focused on the United States’ waning status as a global superpower. When challenged on this by Le Point, he argued that America “is falling into nihilism and the deification of nothing”. He defined this nihilism as “the desire for destruction, but also of the negation of reality. There are no longer any traces of religion, but the human being is still there.” This mindset has been the catalyst, in Todd’s opinion, for American escalation of foreign wars, with the Gaza conflict being the most recent example. 

Criticised in the Le Point interview for an alleged sympathy towards Moscow’s present leadership, including referring to Russia’s “authoritarian democracy”, Todd reiterated that he does not think that Putin has won total victory in Ukraine, but found parallels between the country’s cultural history and Western Protestantism. “What is common to Protestantism and Communism is the obsession with education,” he said. “Communism established in Eastern Europe developed new middle classes. And it was these middle classes who then decreed that they were liberal democracy in action and that the Russians were monsters.”

Todd sees another declining world power as a precursor to America’s fall. “England is even less powerful than France. The English don’t really have nuclear weapons. They are not even capable of making themselves hated in Africa, like us,” he told the magazine. “The English ruling classes were a model for the American ruling classes. The current warmongering madness of the English has certainly had a very bad influence on the Americans.” 


is UnHerd’s Deputy Editor, Newsroom.

RobLownie

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Graham Stull
Graham Stull
5 months ago

This man seems to blend the perfectly, blindingly obvious with his own personal bias and some idiotic off-the-cuff throwaways. The perfect cocktail of “Le Surpenseur”.
That religion is fading is an obvious statement. That America is losing influence equally so.
The thing about arming the Ukrainian offensive is a ‘Current Thing’ idiocy.
That communism and protestantism bear any meaningful similarities is absurd. Equally so the idea that Biden or his catholic faith would have any impact on anything other than local ice cream sellers and little girls unfortunate enough to be within sniffing range.
But goodness the French sure have some penchant for throwing up midwit philosophers who pontificate their way from mistress to Parisian cafe.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

In which regard, it should be noted that the UK (and Commonwealth forces), joined by the US (after much cajoling) rescued French civilisation not once, but twice during the 20th century.
All philosophical musings by self-styled “penseurs” need to be viewed in this light, to which they themselves appear to be blind.
Does that mean there isn’t anything worth taking note of in his writings? Of course not; but no more than can be gathered by reading the Comments section of Unherd.

D Glover
D Glover
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I agree. There are things I distrust about Biden (IRA sympathies; advanced senility) but catholicism is the least of them.
As for ‘England’ not having nuclear weapons, that’s just nonsense. The UK has such weapons, but they aren’t any use to us in the predicament that we’re in.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

The point that Todd makes is sound. They are not ours. We cannot fire them without American permission.

D Glover
D Glover
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Well, this source says we can.
https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/no-america-doesnt-control-britains-nuclear-weapons/
I’d be grateful for your source.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

You have just given it, if you look hard enough.

William Brand
William Brand
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Surely you must have removed the PAL that prevents launch without Biden pushing the button! I thought a sub captain could launch if he discovered his country was Radioactive.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Perhaps not but what’s being utilised, at £1m+ each, are the missiles required to bring down incoming ordnance from Houti rebels to at least try to keep valuable shipping lanes open.
Are the French doing the same? Or just “thinking about it”?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A million pounds a shot, against 10-a-penny drones. In took 20 years to lose to the Taliban, and here we go again against the Houthis. The solution to this is a ceasefire in Gaza.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

There was a ceasefire in Gaza before 7 October, which has been pointed out a million times against 10-a-penny calls for another one.

Stuart Rose
Stuart Rose
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thanks for repeating simple truths that too many people forget or choose to forget.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

The missiles might be expensive, but the warships are more so.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

No ceasefire with the Palestinians has ever led to a constructive peace process, nor ever will as long as the sponsors of Israel’s enemies remain the genocidal ayatollahs of Iran. There is no peace without victory. And victory for democracy in the Middle East will only come when Iran has been defeated and dismembered as a state sponsor of Islamic terror.

Stuart Rose
Stuart Rose
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

The conflict with the Houthis could have been halted on day one if the U.S. and British were serious powers.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

The Bidens are Catholics in the way that a bordello owner in Brazil is, perhaps, Catholic.
In his defence, one could say that the current pontiff, whom I view as almost an anti-Pope, takes a similar view of both government and moral incontinence.
At any rate, things like Marxism, post modernism, socialism, and welfare states – as well as imperial militarism – were hardly invented by Americans, nor by practicing Catholics.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

An “anti-Pope”? That is a harsh call. Francis actually seems like a nice chap to me (by the standards of Catholic clerics anyway).

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Francis is many things, but the narrative I have heard coming out of Rome is that there is a difference between the public image (‘like a nice chap’) and the man himself. Still wouldn’t call him anti-pope yet, but I am not happy about the company he keeps.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

What company is he keeping that offends you so?

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

For example: https://unherd.com/2022/08/the-hypocrisy-of-pope-francis/ and that doesn’t mention Father Marko Rupnik.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
5 months ago

Biden considers himself Catholic, but it seems to make very little impact on his actions. One way of making sense of Francis is to understand the Peronism of his native Argentina, which is, I suppose, a novel way of being all things to all men.

G M
G M
5 months ago

The current Pope is acting like a South American dictator.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago
Reply to  G M

The current Pope has made himself irrelevant. Stateside, there are stories of Catholic priests mocking him for his liberal pronouncements.

William Brand
William Brand
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Your little Arsenal is the only thing standing between you and Russia America will not do anything under the Democrats

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

I agree with the first paragraph. Biden seems a “sensible” Catholic (by which I mean that he seems to accept that not everyone is Catholic).

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

As a life-long Catholic, I’ve long been aware that communism is just a smokescreen for creeping Protestantism.

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago

Yeah sure, Karl Marx,Trotsky and Co were Protestants

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Quote of the week:the French sure have some penchant for throwing up midwit philosophers who pontificate their way from mistress to Parisian cafe.”
I have heard it proposed that the French education system has ‘philosophy’ as part of their mainstream curriculum. This was supposed to make them wise, but, instead, opens their brains to a strange madness where reality is replaced by complex ideology.
Would identity-politics have invaded western universities if it had not been incubated by Parisian ‘philosophers’.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

“from mistress to Parisian cafe . . .” you say this like it is a bad thing. (More 5 à 7, less ex cathedra?)

Robbie K
Robbie K
5 months ago

Warmongering madness of the English?
What a peculiar fellow, what’s he on about? Reminds me of the French soldier in Monty Python – I fart in your general direction

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

That is how the world sees us, yes. Wherever did they all get that idea?

Robbie K
Robbie K
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

I really don’t know.
He also said current.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

As well he might.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago

He has missed the mark here. Close….but no 180! Secularism has indeed proved a desert for our souls, one letting all sorts of irrational credos like DEI and Net Zero to flourish. But he would so better to analyse the astonishing forced feminization of our society and its culture under the Progressive Order. The point about Catholicism v Protestanism is best made in relation to the EU. The Catholic Church lumbered into corruption and ruin because its belief system was centred on a special priesthood (who alone could communicate with God/Latin) who sat far above and bossed us, the proles. Sound familiar??? It was Catholics who erected the EU on this regulate/diktat top down model. Protestantism offered the English and Dutch the Bible in their own language and thus was (with our jewel of common law) a great force for independent action, liberty and democracy – not just the Waspy work ethic. The Peoples’s Brexit sits in this great tradition of rebellion against Diktaty Priestly Overlords (though our scummy progressive politicians do not even understand this).

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I think I agree with most of what you say, but not sure about Catholics imposing the eu upon us. I find it an extremely secular entity, but I could be missing something.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Many of the founding fathers were Catholics. My point is that these idealists had the overarching Catholic Hierarchial/Governance Model – a rather authoritarian top down trans national governing – think Holy Roman Empire – embedded in their thinking. The French and Germans had both failed disastrously to create stable non aggressive nation states. Nationalism was poison to them. So naturally the old ways of the old faith provided the core intellectual framework of the New European movement.

Roger Sponge
Roger Sponge
5 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Popes John Paul Ii and Benedict XVI were critical of the EU, saying it ignored Christianity’s role in the foundation of Europe. It takes much digging to find “the old ways of the old faith”

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Roger Sponge

So dig…

Juan Manuel Pérez Porrúa
Juan Manuel Pérez Porrúa
5 months ago

I wouldn’t exactly call the “vaporization” of Protestantism to be a bad thing. Whenever a heresy or heresies such as the ones propounded and spread by the myriad of Protestant sects “vaporize” (themselves? I wonder. I am hardly the first one to notice the tendency inherent in Protestantism to break up into sects) that is in itself a good thing.

What has not been a positive development, on the other hand, has been that Protestantism has not been replaced with Christianity (Catholicism), but with other false religions like Mohammedanism or by ideologies that retain some of the elements of Protestantism, but leave out others (this pick-and-choose approach to orthodoxy and heterodoxy is also quite characteristic of Protestantism) — one could give as an example Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was born in and was raised in the Protestant city of Genf.

Finally, I have to say I find Mr. Todd’s embrace of the questionable Weberian thesis on the relationship between “Protestantism” (let’s not forget the differences between the different Protesant sects, namely Calvinism, Lutheranism, the sect to which Weber himself belonged, and Anglicanism, which differ in their social effects) amusing. Especially since the period that he cites as “Great America” (which was overall a period of economic prosperity in the United States) is precisely a period where Liberal Protestantism was quite dominant and there was a great degree of “secularization” of American society.

Anyway, I just think people should pay less attention to pundits such as Mr. Todd — another one of the many deleterious social effects of Protestantism.

Balmes, Jaime Luciano. European Civilization: Protestantism and Catholicity Compared. J. Murphy & Company, 1850.
Belloc, Hilaire. The great heresies. Catholic Book Club, 1950.
Sardá y Salvany, Félix. “El liberalismo es pecado: cuestiones candentes.” (1891).
Donoso Cortés, Juan. “Ensayo sobre el catolicismo, el liberalismo y el socialismo.” (1851).

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago

I would say Wokeism has replaced Christianity in the West. Unfortunately, it possesses all the prejudice and vindictiveness of seventeenth-century New England Puritanism but worse, because it has none of the charity or forgiveness.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
5 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The Calvinists divided the world into the pure Elect (whose virtue saves them,) and the Damned & Postmasters who literally can just go to Hell . Sound and look familiar? You bet it does.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
5 months ago

In the last 50 years the impact of Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, has been towards the same goals, which is to support equality of rights and opportunity, while opposing corruption, centralization of power, and immorality. I cannot imagine why JMPP would want to divide the Christian world into good and bad, especially since he brings no argument but invective against ‘heretic’ Protestants. Sad to see.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
5 months ago

In all of human history, the Christian Reformation turbocharged change to the present day World.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
5 months ago

Interesting, and a lot of sense in what Todd has to say.
He’s right about the Protestant work ethic and right that Protestantism has little or no influence now.
However there are other’s who have a work ethic without being Protestants.
I would point to Japan, a diligent people whose people have a great work ethic and a sense of communal duty.
Pretty much everything works in Japan, from keeping their towns and cities clean, to their railways and the general service that is available.
We could do well to emulate Japan in the UK, but perhaps not their Govt spending !

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
5 months ago

I would agree with you were it not that Japan, finding itself in a position of decidedly not “working” organised delegations to European countries (and the USA) to figure out what we were doing right and then implemented this at home over the heads of conservatives. I don’t know what it is called but it was during the Meiji period. Prior to that it was an internally warring, feudal society.

Bernard Davis
Bernard Davis
5 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

The Japanese in the mid 19th Century perceived the fate that awaited them at the hands of predatory Western powers if they did not radically reorganise for defence against those powers. They saw what was being done to an inward-looking, industrially weak China by British imperialism, and had no intention of suffering the same humiliation. Japan’s rapid transformation from feudalism to industrial capitalism, borrowing from the West itself much of what they needed for that transformation, was indeed astonishing. Unfortunately, they borrowed the bad along with the good, and fell into the trap of assuming that they too had to conquer and gain an overseas empire if they were to prosper. That is understandable; after all that was the prevailing idea in Europe right up until the end of the Second World War (and even later, in the case of the French).

D Walsh
D Walsh
5 months ago

You can’t emulate Japan with your demographics, it would be foolish to try

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
5 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

If it weren’t for immigration, the demographics of western Europe would be very similar indeed to Japan’s.
Mass immigration is only a solution to demographic decline the way debt is a solution to a falling income.
One way or the other, sooner or later you’re picking up the tab.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago

The Poles also tend to have a good work ethic as well…and they’re Catholic. My daughter lives in a building in NY completely staffed by Polish workers. Whenever I am looking for a housecleaner or workman, I go to the Polish woman who man’s the desk in the lobby and she finds me a Polish worker. It’s always a sure thing.

So maybe, it’s not religion so much but national character? When I was young- about 50 years ago, I remember reading an article about work attitudes. I specifically recall two photos side-by-side, one showing British workers in a factory rather idly hanging about and the other depicted German factory workers who were clean and diligently at work. The crux of the article was about the differences in work productivity & cultures…Germans used to be known as meticulous and hardworking but not sure if that is true today?

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

The religion of England and of the ruling class in the USA (from Teddy R to Eisenhower) is/was Anglicanism – otherwise known as Episcopalianism in America. In the words of the creed it is a “catholic and apostolic church”. Our bishops don’t obey the Pope of Rome but we are not Protestant in the normal sense.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

The Belfast Anglican and former editor of the Irish Times, Douglas Gageby, found the ecclesiastical theories of Church of England High Churchers very amusing and bemusing. He used ask what they would say if they had a gun put to their head on the Protestant (which means Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian in the main) Shankhill Road in Belfast at three in the morning and were asked if they were Catholic or Protestant.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

USA Protestants refer to Episcopalians as ‘Catholic-lite’. Ornate Episcopalian churches even reflect Catholicism, whereas churches of other Protestant sects – Congregationalism, Methodism, Baptist – tend to be ‘white’ and devoid of ornamentation.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
5 months ago

Mr Todd’s talks about ““the vaporisation of Protestantism in the United States, in England and throughout the Protestant world”. This is highly misleading. Where does Mr Todd locate the Protestant world? For example, there are more Anglicans in Africa than all of the rest of the world put together and Protestant churches in the Far East have experienced huge growth in recent years. For example, Korea, there are now 8.5 million Protestants.
Dr. Todd needs to either broaden his horizons or narrow the sweep of his statements.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
5 months ago

“Woke” was a mutant strain of Protestantism but now it has eaten its own intellectual forbears.
As evidence: the most woke countries are (ex-) Protestant. Ireland might be pointed out as an exception but as the economist David McWilliams pointed out 20 years ago, Catholic Ireland has turned economically protestant.

Chris Whybrow
Chris Whybrow
5 months ago

“England has no nuclear weapons.” Well, I guess that might technically be true if they’re still located in Scotland.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Whybrow

That assertion by Prof. Todd is indeed a bit odd. He says “The English don’t really have nuclear weapons”. Maybe he is resurrecting that old chestnut of Tony Benn’s, who challenged people to come aup with a credible scenario in which the UK would use its nuclear weaponry without the approval of the Americans. Or maybe Prof. Todd can imagine M. Marcon or Madame Le Pen pushing the button, but he can’t imagine Mr Sunak or Mr. starmer doing so.
Either way, it is a bit unfair to say we don’t really have a deterrent just because we don’t use it.

Emre S
Emre S
5 months ago

Mostly agree with all this except wouldn’t call 20th century America a zombie era – probably more like a dying or geriatric era where religion is nominally there but doesn’t do much other than slowly receding.
Because we actually do have zombie Protestantism which is dead yet moving, cursing everything it touches, it’s called Wokeism.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

I read it several times, but his claim that Protestantism has died in America (paraphrasing) not least because of the Catholic faith of Joe Biden makes no sense. Is he saying that the Catholic faith—and specifically Joe Biden—has a role in the demise of the Protestant faith? Seems to me that after the child sexual abuse scandal, Catholicism took a big hit. I would say that both religions have suffered greatly, except Evangelicalism. For example, Latinos are flocking to these churches, and they are already a powerful constituency in politics.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Much of church-going has to do with the desire for community. Family and tradition are still very important to Latinos who are in fact invigorating many churches in the USA.

Tom More
Tom More
5 months ago

As a Catholic , its odd to consider Biden a Catholic. The US constitution is ironically predicated upon the principles of Catholic natural law theory as it was the only workable model. I don’t find Protestantism defensible or serious, so as Notre Dame’s Gregory wrote in “The Unintended Reformation”, its demise was inevitable.
And it was amusing to catch Stark on Triggernometry describing the self righteous and condemnatory WOKE as the sons and daughters of Methodists.
But more seriously, the slide into incoherence since Descartes’ disastrous forgetting of reality as the source of his experience of consciousness, Rousseau’s naive insouciance , and Hume’s self refuting fork which he ironically ignored in his absurd criticism of metaphysics, has left us literally stupid.
The robust realism of Aristotle and Aquinas, with Final Causality as the only coherent possible ground for our innate sense of truth, meaning and purpose, is the only way back to sanity. Literally.
Former materialist and atheist Ed Feser, in trying to laugh off theism and those absurd medieval types, actually discovered what they wrote and thought. Sanity.
He’s very much worth a listen.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Feser

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

I am amazed that anyone in a Western country takes all this “religion” stuff seriously any more. Of course I support the right of people to freely practise their religion, but the idea that religion should be an integral part of our societal identity seems bizarre.

Emre S
Emre S
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I think this idea of yours is the very idea that’s being test across the Western world at the moment. A previous iteration of this happened a 100 years with the Soviets where American progressives (who saw themselves as intellectuals at the time) had the hardest time accepting what really happened. Of course past performance is not guarantee of the future, and we’ll see the events unfold.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Emre S

Both of my parents were quite religious. My father was at one point a Lay Preacher, and my mother (being German) was devout Lutheran throughout her life. I was therefore exposed to “church-going” in my childhood. I was however sure from a very early age that Christianity held nothing whatsoever for me. That has not changed one bit in the intervening period.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

This is probably the point of the original essay. It is perhaps bizarre to assume religion as part of societal identity as it was until perhaps 1914 (and it was fading long before then). But what do you replace it with? The thesis seems to be that trying to put in something neutral instead doesn’t work.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

I don’t think there is any point in trying to “put in” anything. Just let things land where they fall.

G M
G M
5 months ago

Without Christian morals and religion then nothing is right or wrong because there are no real stable standards of morality.
Everything can be right (like more than 2 genders) even if not based in reality.
Reality is what you think it is.

G M
G M
5 months ago

“not least because of the Catholic faith of incumbent President Joe Biden.”

Biden is not actually Catholic though he calls himself that.

But the current Pope is not really Catholic either.

David Yetter
David Yetter
5 months ago

Of course, there is another take: things start to go wrong not with the Reformation, not with the decline of Protestantism, but (to quote the Orthodox Christian bioethicist, Tristram H. Englhardt, Jr.), “If I recall correctly, it was just after the Third Mass of Christmas in the year 800.”
Remember, from an Orthodox Christian point of view, as St. Justin of Celije said, “Protestantism is not the negation of Papism, but its universalization. Instead of one infallible man in Rome, it creates a host of infallible men in London, Berlin, Geneva….”
In places like the US and UK that seem to be rapidly secularizing, Orthodox Christianity is also growing. The little chapel in Kansas with a borrowed priest that I serve as a subdeacon (a glorified life-time altar boy if you ask a Greek, a minor clergyman if you ask a Russian), has either as new converts received within the past year or as catecheumens, people leaving the Latin church, three different Protestant denomination, Islam, Satanism, and being a “none” (in the sense of vaguely unsure whether agnostic or atheist is a better descriptor). The Orthodox community I worshiped with in York when my daughter and son-in-law had jobs at the University of York and I visited them has similar tales to tell.
Western Christianity having become thin and unsatisfying does not inevitably mean the de-Christianisation of the West.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago

That will be the same protestantism that allowed people to be burnt for supposed witchcraft
“In the aftermath of the initial Reformation settlement of 1560, Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act 1563, one of a series of laws underpinning Biblical laws[3] and similar to that passed in England a year earlier, which made the practice of witchcraft itself, and consulting with witches, capital crimes.[4]
Witch trials in early modern Scotland – Wikipedia

Chipoko
Chipoko
5 months ago

“Western decline can be attributed to the “vaporisation” of Protestantism.”
To the contrary! Western decline may be traced back to the birth of Protestantism following Martin Luther’s dispute with the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. With its emphasis on the individual (ultimately finding expression in the formalisation of ‘human rights’ philosophy and policy in the 20th Century), in contrast to the corporate perspectives of the Catholic Church (which invented the ‘nuclear family’ that in turn facilitated the evolution of the capitalist system), Protestant focus on the individual and not the controlling centre paved the way for the French Revolution and ultimately the Woke Era of today. It is Protestant-driven ideas that have ultimately culminated in the inversion of the law in western democracies whereby the rights of individuals and minority groups now trump those of the majority. It is this inversion and all its associated perversions that have eroded Western democratic institutions and culture and led to the ‘vaporisation of Protestantism and Western Christianity generally.
Protestantism has ‘vapourised’ itself – and Western civilisation en route.
[Read Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland for a detailed understanding of this thesis]

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
5 months ago

We can see that, because of the greater emphasis on the individual’s relationship to God compared to the Catholic approach, Protestant areas of Europe were the first to adopt the Enlightenment and promote science and technology.
This enabled the individualism necessary for the Scientific revolution etc.
However, that does not make Protestantism the main driver, more that it was an enabler.
Simply rebuilding Protestantism will not rebuild the Enlightenment.
The dismantling of the West has two important components:
The replacement of individual responsibility with identity responsibility. (eg ‘white privilege’, ‘patriarchy’)The abandonment of the assumption that there is a knowable social reality with one which assumes racism/sexism as its starting point.Protestantism does not automatically oppose these.