How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization (Paperback)

How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization By Mary Eberstadt Cover Image
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Description


In this magisterial work, leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt delivers an influential new theory about the decline of religion in the Western world. The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshaling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows the reverse is also true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.

Drawing on sociology, history, demography, theology, literature, and many other sources, Eberstadt shows that family decline and religious decline have gone hand in hand in the Western world in a way that has not been understood before—that they are, as she puts it in a striking new image summarizing the book’s thesis, “the double helix of society, each dependent on the strength of the other for successful reproduction.”

In sobering final chapters, Eberstadt then lays out the enormous ramifications of the mutual demise of family and faith in the West. While it is fashionable in some circles to applaud the decline of both religion and the nuclear family, there are, as Eberstadt reveals, enormous social, economic, civic, and other costs attendant on both declines. Her conclusion considers this compelling question: whether the economic and demographic crisis now roiling Europe and spreading to America will have the unintentional result of reviving the family as the most viable alternative to the failed welfare state—fallout that could also lay the groundwork for a religious revival as well.

How the West Really Lost God is a startlingly original account of how secularization happens and a sweeping brief about why everyone should care. A book written for agnostics as well as believers, atheists as well as “none of the above,” it will permanently change the way every reader understands the two institutions that have hitherto undergirded Western civilization as we know it—family and faith—and the fundamental nature of the relationship between those two pillars of history.

About the Author


Mary Eberstadt holds the Panula Chair at the Catholic Information Center and is a senior fellow with the Faith and Reason Institute. She is the author of several books, including Primal Screams and How the West Really Lost God, and has written widely for newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Praise For…


“An absolutely brilliant and strikingly fresh portrait of the ‘double-helix’ of faith and family, coupled with a potentially game-changing analysis of the why and how of secularization, all written with the sparkle and empathy that characterize the work of one of America’s premier social analysts." —George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.

“You cannot understand the real philosophical problems of the West–which have been mounting for 40 years—without reading Mary Eberstadt’s new book How the West Really Lost God.”—Jonathan V. Last, author of What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster

“How the West Really Lost God” is a clear, compelling and ultimately convincing presentation of the relationship between faith and family. It’s not a call to action. But it doesn’t need to be. The Church has already told Christians what to do. The book just dispels any lingering doubts about the necessity of doing it. —Emily Stimpson, Our Sunday Visitor

“Every Christian leader who’s interested in engaging today’s culture (and who shouldn’t be?) should have this book on his or her desk. Her research and historical perspectives are fascinating, and I’m confident that she’ll give you enormous new information that will help you engage today’s non-believing culture more effectively.” —Phil Cooke, The Christian News Journal

"Her short, elegantly written book repeatedly shows that strong families help to keep the religious practice alive and that too many people see a causal connection running exclusively in the opposite direction."—The Economist

“A short column cannot do justice to the wide and deep reading and all the evidence Eberstadt has marshaled for her argument, so you are urged to read this book. What is certain is that this is one of those books that will forever change the conversation about why Christianity is in decline in the West.” —Crisis Magazine

“In her deeply insightful new book, How the West Really Lost God, Mary Eberstadt suggests that there is a more fundamental cause underlying the cultural loss of religion—a cause that all the previous research has mistaken for just another effect. What if the decline of religion is integrally connected to, and perhaps even a result of, the decline of the natural family?”  —Washington Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9781599474663
ISBN-10: 1599474662
Publisher: Templeton Press
Publication Date: June 9th, 2014
Pages: 268
Language: English