Thinking Out Loud

August 4, 2018

Secularization in Europe: Where it Begins

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:05 am

You won’t see a picture like this often: Just 5 minutes earlier this Cathedral in Strasbourg was teeming with tourists, but they shut it down at 11:15 AM every day, evacuating all the guests. Empty churches is the theme of my writing on our concerns for Christianity in Europe.

I’m not a social scientist, though I play one on television.

However, in the informal interviews we had with people in July (and the year before) there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that the secularization taking place in Europe has two very strong nodes; two places where it begins from which the ripple effects spread out throughout each respective country. Furthermore, I’m predicting that in the future, things won’t be much different in Canada and the United States.

One is cities. I know the stereotype. Country people are closer to the land, and it better lends itself to worshiping God in creation. But so many things reinforced the continued devoutness of the people in the smaller communities, as opposed to the secularized society we witnessed in the urban environments. Rural values are more spiritual.

For now.

The second is the young. Even as secularization spreads from the cities to the towns, it spreads as those in their teens advance into their twenties, have their own families for which church attendance is not a part of normal life.

We used to say, “Just wait until they have children.” The theory was that the children would ask questions that would force the parents to provide a structure to help them answer the metaphysical, philosophical, and spiritual questions of life.

Then studies proved that didn’t happen.

I’ve quoted this (source unknown) before:

A faith community that does not impart its sacred writings to its young people is one generation away from extinction.

I would add another today:

A faith community which has lost its children and teens is one generation away from extinction.

…and all the organ concerts and gift shop sales won’t be enough to stop that.

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August 28, 2016

Just Another Day

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:17 am

Sunday SabbathLast night we slept with the windows open, and at various intervals this morning (6:30, 6:50, 7:00, 7:20) I was aware of car doors closing, engines starting and people driving away, many of whom I believe were heading to work.

Sunday has become, in many respects, just another day. I remember the first time I walked into a grocery store on a Sunday, and the first time in a department store. It was a strange feeling; like I shouldn’t be here, and neither should anyone else. The stores were not particularly busy and the argument was made that they wouldn’t do any more business than they might have in six days.

Growing up in Canada, I often heard older people speak of The Lord’s Day Alliance Act. Wikipedia explains:

In 1888, the Lord’s Day Alliance came into existence as the result mainly of Presbyterian and Methodist interests. Leading up to 1906, the Lord’s Day Alliance advocated the national Lord’s Day Bill. They were opposed by Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

The Lord’s Day Act, which since 1906 had prohibited business transactions from taking place on Sundays, was struck down as unconstitutional in the 1985 case R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd. Calgary police officers witnessed several transactions at the Big M Drug Mart, all of which occurred on a Sunday. Big M was charged with a violation of the Lord’s Day Act. A provincial court ruled that the Lord’s Day Act was unconstitutional, but the Crown proceeded to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a unanimous 6-0 decision, the Lord’s Day Act was ruled an infringement of the freedom of conscience and religion defined in section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I remember hearing stories of the major stores in downtown Toronto actually covering up their window displays from Saturday night until Monday morning in what might have been strict adherence to the act or personal convictions.

But today it’s hard to tell the difference between Sunday and any other day. In Canada, I think that’s due to a mixture of religious pluralism (partly because of immigration and partly owing to general secularization) and business owners who lack conviction on the matter. I wonder what they’d think of Chick-fil-A in this country?


Here’s a classic from Evie about “walkin’ to church on a Sunday morning…”

…and from the a classic gospel music-themed song from Neil Diamond

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