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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity and Islam in Europe today, 31 Dec. 2007
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Hardcover)
This is the third in Jenkins' fascinating series looking at global Christianity and it follows "The Next Christendom" and "The New Faces Of Christianity" but this time focusing on Christianity in Europe and the perceived threat of Islam. Reading this book was an enjoyable experience and a welcome antidote to the paranoia often seen in the media and in churches, at least with regard to the future of Christianity. Jenkins shows, using statistics and with a look through the history of Christianity in Europe, that despite the increase in secularisation and the reduction in numbers of believers, Christianity is still overwhelmingly the majority religion in Europe and likely to stay that way. He wonders whether the Islam of those who make their homes in Europe might also become more secular and tolerant and that the Islam that we fear, that of the fundamentalists, might not be as prevalent as we fear.

The second half of the book looks more closely at Islam, discussing terrorism and the French riots, showing how some people are radicalised and giving a history of many of the terrorism events of the last twenty years. He also describes some of the changes taking place in European Islam, particularly with regard to women's rights. The assumption that Islam is a monolithic faith in which there is no variation is patently false and it was encouraging to read of many of the Muslim men and women who are working as a force for good, at least as we would see it. However the overall tone of this part of the book was less positive and left the reader with the sense that Islam is very different from the liberality of most Europeans and not that willing to accommodate in most cases.

Jenkins is always a worthwhile writer to read, with an ability to see the big picture as well as to focus on the details and he is at home in European history and culture. His writing style is excellent, always interesting, well-reasoned and clearly researched, although I was irritated by his insistence in calling the London Underground the London Subway. This book is an important study for anyone living in Europe who wonders about the future of Christianity and how we are to get along with our Muslim neighbours and who perhaps wants to learn a little more about the Islam that is becoming established in Europe.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing Look Beyond the Headlines, 27 April 2008
A. O. P. Akemu "Ona" (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Hardcover)
We are all familiar with tales of the impending take-over of Europe by radical Islamism. The argument goes something like this; The Church in Europe is in serious decline. Moreover birth rates in secular, staid old-stock white Europe have declined rapidly whereas the flood of recent "coloured" immigrants from North Africa and the high birth rates of the new arrivals will conspire to make Europe "Arabised and/or Islamicised" by the end of this century. This argument has become conventional wisdom so much so that we all expect the minarets to displace the medieval cathedrals of old as the symbols of New Europe in the next 50 years, right? Wrong, the truth is much more complex (Thank goodness!).

In this excellent, well-researched and accessible book, God's Continent, Philips Jenkins brilliantly tackles this "Eurabia" argument to reveal the deep flaws therein. He expertly shows that the picture of religion and immigration on the continent is more nuanced than the headlines suggest.
Professor Jenkins, while acknowledging the tensions caused by the flood of Muslim and "other" immigrants, dispels the underlying assumptions of the impending Eurabia argument. These are:
- That immigrant birth rates shall continue to rise well into the future. He points out, using apt examples from Irish and Italian immigrants to the US, that birth rates of immigrant communities cannot remain high. They are often initially higher than those of the host communities, matching rates in their countries of origin. However, after two to three generations in the host nations, the immigrant birth-rates match those of the host communities. Europe's immigrant communities are still in the interregnum between initial high birth rates and that of the mainstream society.

- That Muslims shall not be subsumed into the dominant and more powerful secular tradition. There are powerful secularising trends within Europe with which Islam and other religions have to contend. It is by no means certain that Islam can remain "pure" within this backdrop. Islam has and shall continue to adapt to a secular society, which will moderate it and make it more progressive.

- Discussions of European Muslims tend to merge cultural, ethnic and cultural divisions, i.e. anyone brought up in a Muslim community or whose father is a Muslim, whereas Christians are designed in terms of self-identification or religious practice. The number of actively practising Muslims is far fewer than the statistics suggest.

- The flood of recent arrivals in Europe is by no means only Muslim. Christians from Asia, Africa and Latin America are also pouring into Europe and "bringing with them a vibrant and enthusiastic faith. The death knell of Christianity on the continent need not be sounded yet.

He then addresses the issue of a Godless Europe. Using compelling evidence from the Churches all over Europe, government databases and the United Nations, the author shows that though the formal institutions of Christianity may be in decline that the rise of Charismatic Christianity and "Southern" versions of the faith in Europe belies the all too familiar stories about the decline of the Church. (Take that, Fox News!) He points out that, compared to the more diverse media in the United States, the secular European media are hostile to and have limited understanding of religious diversity. He poses the question, "if the media are so ignorant of...non-Western Christianity, what hope do they have of understanding the more alien faith of Islam?" How true.

The book also explores some of the social tension caused by the compounding of religious, social and ethnic identity. For example he shows that the, the French urban riots of 2005, which were portrayed as a "Muslim" thing in the US media had more to do with issues of race, class and alienations and not driven by apocalyptic Islamic agenda.

The book is well-written. It is packed with enough detail (and a bibliography) for the academic reader yet it is pitched at a level that is better suited to the casual reader. It is authoritative in its breadth and depth. Professor Jenkins dispassionately questions the evidence that we all regard as "true" in every case study examined in the book. If you want to dig deeper than the glib headlines for a more nuanced (and detailed) picture of the state of European religion, God's Continent is an excellent place to start. It is written by a world-renowned authority on Christianity. I highly recommend it, in addition to his other work, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarship on a wide-ranging topic., 15 Dec. 2011
I enjoyed reading this book very much - Philip Jenkins has analysed complex issues and presented it all in an accessible way. His style is engaging and he maintained a balanced view throughout, dispelling seemingly persistent myths along the way. The demographic analyses are always interesting, and bring to mind the work of some serious scholars in this area like Eric Kaufmann (author of Shall The Religious Inherit The Earth?) and evolutionary biologist Michael Blume. I highly recommend this book and have liked it enough to make his book The Next Christendom next on my list.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Eurabia, 28 Aug. 2007
G. J. Weeks (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (Hardcover)
Jenkins is a dissenter from the opinion of many author's that Europe faces such a demographic onslaught from Muslim immigrants that the continent will become Eurabia where Islam dominates and all non-Muslims are mere dhimmis. He thinks the demography will change and immigrant families become smaller. He also thinks that Islam will change and adapt in Europe. He is also an optimist about the future of Christianity. He thinks Christianity is far from a dying influence. It will adapt though numbers will reduce. This is the judgment of a liberal academic. I would not be so rash as to prophesy but I do not share his optimism over the future as regards Islam .
But as to the present facts of religion in Europe, Jenkins paints with a broad brush but I think he is fairly accurate, with the glaring exception of the assessment he gives to John Calvin. He certainly gives a balanced picture of Islamic diversity in Europe and also good reasons why European governments have been extraordinarily tolerant of the kinds of activities and organisations which Islamic governments persecute and ban. This is a book informative on now. As to the future, we shall have to wait and see.
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God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis
God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis by Philip Jenkins (Hardcover - 26 July 2007)
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