From Publishers Weekly
Jenkins loves to skewer headlines, to the point that each new book seems to present nothing less than a paradigm shift. The Next Christendom and The New Faces of Christianity announced that Christendom is moving south, its face now less European than African, South American and Asian. Here he looks back at the old Christendom, and finds there a story more complicated than fading Christianity and triumphant militant Islam. Sure enough, many great cathedrals and once-charming village churches are spackling over the cracks on the states nickel. But a host of grassroots-based Catholic religious organizations are flourishing. Ours, Jenkins asserts, is actually a golden age of religious pilgrimage. And it is not only Muslims pouring into Europes borders: African Pentecostals lead thriving congregations across their adopted continent. Poles pack Englands Catholic parishes, and priests from Zaire and CoteIvoire bring new life to age-old churches in French villages. Despite world-transfixing incidents of terror, Jenkins says that Islams dramatic growth in Europe is actually largely a success story of integration and growth in toleration. Conservative and liberal cultural commentators each have their reasons for trumpeting Christianitys demise and militant Islams growth in Europe. Theyre not wholly wrongthe story just needs nuancing. And who but Jenkins could enliven this storyline with an ocean of sociological data poured into a novel-like book thats impossible to put down?
*Starred Review* From the future of Christianity in The Next Christendom
(2002; rev. ed., 2007) and the current growth of Christianity in The New Faces of Christianity
(2006), Jenkins turns to the state of religion on the continent most identified with historic Christianity. Common knowledge has it that European Christianity is sick unto death, and falling church attendance, baptisms, and church weddings bolster that notion. Yet in Europe independent congregations are mushrooming, a sizable proportion of new immigrants are Christian, and the trend of population growth indicates that Christianity will remain the majority faith in Europe for the foreseeable future. Jenkins also inspects Islam in Europe, analyzing the same cultural clashes that Bruce Bawer presented with literate alarm in While Europe Slept
(2006), and he confirms Bawer's observation that Western European political elites have been monumentally insensitive to the complaints of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In addition, Jenkins thoroughly discusses the moderate, peacable Islam most Muslims practice and argues that European Muslims well may settle into amicable coexistence as their incomes and comforts rise. This immensely informative, quintessentially balanced, utterly lucid volume completes Jenkins' Future of Christianity trilogy magnificently. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved