- David Martin, Lancaster University and London School of Economics, UK
This book offers a mature assessment of themes preoccupying David Martin over some fifty years, complementing his book On Secularization. Deploying secularisation as an omnibus word bringing many dimensions into play, Martin argues that the boundaries of the concept of secularisation must not be redefined simply to cover aberrant cases, as when the focus was more on America as an exception rather than on Europe as an exception to the 'furiously religious' character of the rest of the world.
Particular themes of focus include the dialectic of Christianity and secularization, the relation of Christianity to multiple enlightenments and modes of modernity, the enigmas of East Germany and Eastern Europe, and the rise of the transnational religious voluntary association, including Pentecostalism, as that feeds into vast religious changes in the developing world. Doubts are cast on the idea that religion has ever been privatised and has lately reentered the public realm. The rest of the book deals with the relation of the Christian repertoire to the nexus of religion and politics, including democracy and violence and sharply criticises polemical assertions of a special relation of religion to violence, and explores the contributions of 'cognitive science' to the debate
Contents: Sources; Part 1 Secularization and the Future of Christianity: Introduction: Christianity and the world, the religious and the secular; Secularization and the future of Catholicism and Protestantism; Master narratives and the future of Christianity; Pentecostalism: transnational voluntarism in the global religious economy; Has secularization gone into reverse?; Religious responses to modes of secularism; Science and secularization. Part 2 Case Studies of Secularization: An Eastern European pattern of secularization?; East Germany: the world's most secular society. Part 3 Religion and Politics; Democracy and Violence: The religious and the political; Christianity, violence and democracy; Protestantism and democracy; Multiple ironies and necessary paradoxes: a review of religion, fanaticism and violence; Indexes.
About the Author: Professor David Martin is Honorary Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University ; Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics; and a prolific contributor to public as well as sociological debate about religion. The author of more than 20 books, he has established creative lines of thinking both within the sociology of religion and at the interface between sociology and theology. Early books include Pacifism (Routledge 1965), The Sociology of English Religion (SCM 1967), and The Religious and the Secular (Routledge 1969), but Martin became best known for his magisterial A General Theory of Secularization (Blackwell 1978), which questioned the inevitability of secularization in modern societies. The secularization issue is complex, contingent, and infinitely variable, requiring detailed comparative analysis. Later work, notably Tongues of Fire (Blackwell 1990), elaborates the Latin American case within the "secularization" framework. Forbidden Revolutions (SPCK 1996) continues the commitment to comparative sociology, and Reflections on Sociology and Theology (Oxford University Press 1996) collects a series of essays on the title theme. Most recently (July 2005) Martin has up-dated the secularisation debate in his book On Secularization - towards a revised general theory (Ashgate), and published Christian Language and its Mutations (Ashgate 2002) and
As a teacher, David Martin has initiated at least two generations of scholars into the discipline; organizationally he has promoted the sociology of religion both in Britain , through the British Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Study Group, and internationally as President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion. His distinction can be quantified in numerous invitations to give the most prestigious public lectures in the field and in a variety of academic appointments in both Europe and the United States.
Reviews: 'It is a pleasure to see how David Martin in his new book punctures the certainties about religion and secularization that continue to flow from the mouths of many in the media and even the academy by showing the ironies and paradoxes that everywhere lie beneath such generalizations. Martin remains close to the ground in examining the enormous variety of developments not only within nation-states but within continents in the changing configurations of the sacred and the secular with respect to organized religion, democracy, violence and modernity itself. He gives us a sobering education about the realities beneath the slogans, whatever we might think about the realities he discloses.'
Robert N. Bellah, University of California, Berkeley, USA
'This is required reading. Martin breaks new ground with respect to the place of religion in the modern world. He is critical, however, of unqualified assertions that God is ‘back’. Instead he returns repeatedly to the careful analyses of the secularization process that he established some forty years ago. Such an approach remains as apposite as ever.'
Grace Davie, University of Exeter, UK
'David Martin is the great pioneer of a political sociology of religion. His historical erudition and global perspective, his healthy scepticism regarding premature generalizations and his sharp tongue make this collection of his recent essays a goldmine of insight and a pleasurable reading.'
Hans Joas, Director of the Max Weber Centre, University of Erfurt, and University of Chicago, USA
'This new volume contains a collection of lectures and articles - published and unpublished - with an introductory chapter indicating how they fit together... A great strength of this book is that otherwise inaccessible material is now made available to a wider readership, all of it reshaped and rewritten in such a way as to form a more or less coherent argument throughout.' Church Times
‘[Martin] writes out of tremendous experience in the sociology of religion, and a wide knowledge of many countries. A particular interest of his has been the growth of Pentecostalism, particularly in South America, but The Future of Christianity shows an intimate knowledge of the current religious situation, with all its variety, right across Europe. Anyone who wants to learn about the role of religion in society in many countries will find plenty of interest.’ Times Literary Supplement
'The Future of Christianity is, really truthfully, such an inspiring book. It goes against any simple (model) explanation of social processes. It gives answers but simultaneously produces new questions.' Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe
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