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By The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two

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First, only a religion that has an authoritative reference point outside the individual is capable of providing a challenge to any status quo. Left to our own devices a combination of sloth and self-interest will always make sacrifice unlikely. Although New Agers are fond of talking of their revelations and therapies as life-changing, in practice mostly what changes is merely attitudes to their circumstances. The anxious repressed merchant banker who takes up yoga or meditation does not cease to be a banker; he may acquire a certain detachment from his work role and become a more contented holistic banker, but he continues in the mainstream.

New Arrivals The final factor in this complicated mosaic is somewhat different: the growing number of incomers in almost all European societies. There have been two stages in this process. The first was closely linked to the need for labor in the expanding economies of post-war Europe—notably in Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Wherever possible, each of these countries looked to its former empire to expand its workforce: Britain to the West Indies and the Indian sub-continent, France to the 8 The attraction of cathedrals and city-center churches is closely related to the growth in pilgrimage across Europe; see Davie, Religion in Modern Europe, 156–62.

The trends are considerably more visible in some parts of Europe than in others. 6 But it is precisely this shift across very different denominations that encourages the notion that something profound is taking place. Lutheran nations, however—despite their reputation for being the most secular countries in Europe—still stick to a more traditional pattern as far as confirmation is concerned, though the manner in which they do this is changing. 7 In making this choice, confirmation becomes an “experience” in addition to a rite of passage, implying a better fit with other aspects of youth culture.

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AFTER SECULARIZATION by The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two


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